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MSU Foundation enhances real estate services for donors

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Contact: Amy Cagle

Studio portrait of Jud Skelton
Jud Skelton (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The Mississippi State University Foundation is stepping up efforts to strategically provide more specialized assistance for alumni and friends interested in real estate as a giving avenue. A new giving year renews a focus for this often-overlooked method of giving as two veteran fundraisers, Jud Skelton and Jeff Little, assume more inclusive roles with the real estate services area, consisting of Bulldog Properties and Bulldog Forest.

Real estate assets may offer a perfect solution for a charitable gift to benefit Mississippi State University. These assets could include timber and agricultural land, residential homes, vacation homes or condominiums, and commercial investment or underdeveloped property.  Oil and gas interests also are an option. This type of gift offers benefits to donors, including the designation of support to the general university, colleges, athletics or other campus areas.

Studio portrait of Jeff Little
Jeff Little (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

“Oftentimes donors assume they can only accomplish their charitable goals with cash or stock assets; however, a gift of real estate can be beneficial for the donor and the charity. Jud and Jeff can provide valuable assistance with the complexities of this unique giving method,” said Jack McCarty, executive director of development.

Many individuals already entrust their family land to MSU. In fact, the first gift through the MSU Foundation after its charter nearly six decades ago was a gift of land in Quitman County. The donors retained a life estate in the property while proceeds from the gift became part of MSU’s permanent endowment.

“A significant portion of an individual’s wealth is commonly held in real estate and, today, we help guide these valuable real estate gifts with the knowledge and expertise we offer as we assist donors and their attorneys, tax advisors or financial planners,” said Skelton.

Depending upon the real estate giving method chosen, donors may receive a significant charitable income tax deduction and, in some instances, even an increase in their income. Relief from the day-to-day responsibilities of property ownership as well as estate tax implications may also play a part in the decision-making process.”

In particular, becoming part of MSU’s Bulldog Forest program allows donors to leave a lasting legacy in their family’s name. These legacy forests maintain the intent of the donor over time and serve as living laboratories for MSU students studying in certain academic disciplines and professors engaged in valuable research.

“Donating timberland to MSU’s Bulldog Forest program, whether outright or through a bequest, provides a way for landowners to see their valued land managed and enhanced while benefiting MSU students, faculty and countless others impacted by the university,” said Little.

Approximately 12,500 acres held by the MSU Foundation are currently under management with another 17,000 held and managed by the university. The Bulldog Forest as a whole makes available over 30,000 acres for MSU to conduct research and educate its students. Thousands of additional acres have been committed to the program through donors’ estate plans, Little said.

Properties donated to Bulldog Forest are held in the program at the donor’s election, with funds generated from timber sales, hunting leases, oil and gas leases, conservation programs and easements, and other means being used by the university for donor-specified charitable purposes. Many types of property can be considered for the program; however, the MSU Foundation real estate team must approve each Bulldog Forest tract.

With the need for additional resources to focus on these complex gifts through both the Bulldog Properties and Bulldog Forest programs, Skelton assumes the new role of senior director of development for real estate services. With oversight responsibilities for the Bulldog Properties program, Skelton’s primary focus will be related to the solicitation, acquisition, management and sale of real estate gifts for all areas of the MSU campus, including the various colleges, athletics and general university. Skelton is a Mississippi Delta native and 1998 MSU business administration graduate who earned a master’s degree in business administration from Millsaps College in 2000. He joined the MSU Foundation in 2001 as major-gift fundraiser for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in 2007 expanded his role to include real estate.

Real estate team member Little has been promoted to senior director of development for Bulldog Forest. Little’s primary focus is the solicitation, management and stewardship of the properties within Bulldog Forest. A McComb native, Little earned an MSU bachelor’s degree in English in 1995 and completed a juris doctorate degree in 1999 from the Mississippi College School of Law. He joined MSU as the primary fundraiser for the College of Forest Resources in 2005 and assumed responsibilities for the Bulldog Forest in 2007.

The university’s Real Estate Guide to Giving is available at http://www.msufoundation.com and additional information is available at http://msugiftplanning.org.

For personalized illustrations based on individual circumstances or technical assistance associated with the real estate giving process, contact Skelton at (662) 325-0643 or jud.skelton@foundation.msstate.edu; Little at (662) 325-8151 or jlittle@foundation.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

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