The first decade of the 21st century began with the opening of the Cintas and Gallagher Student centers, and it will end with the unveiling of another set of new and highly anticipated resources. When Phase I of the James E. Hoff, S.J., Academic Quad is completed next August, Xavier University will welcome to campus 170,000 square feet of new and dynamic academic space.
The featured components of the Hoff Academic Quad are the Conaton Learning Commons and new Williams College of Business. Together, these will bring dramatic change to campus and unprecedented learning resources to current and future students. These resources include technological infrastructure, new classrooms, new individual and group learning spaces, and new instructional resources far beyond those available at Xavier today. By combining these resources with greater and more integrated services for students, the University will be in an ideal position to attract, retain and graduate more students than ever before.
“No other college or university in the nation will provide students with a more effective learning environment than the one we’re creating here at Xavier,” says University President Michael J. Graham, S.J.
Much of the credit for this learning environment goes to alumni and friends and their financial support of To See Great Wonders: The Campaign for Xavier. Through September, the campaign has generated more than $185 million toward the goal of $200 million. These funds have enabled Xavier to build the Hoff Academic Quad without compromising the financial integrity of the institution, and to move confidently ahead with plans to replace the aging Alter Hall with a new classroom building and to construct a new residence hall.
These funds have also earned Xavier—and those at the University primarily responsible for philanthropic fundraising—a national award.
Xavier has won a 2009 WealthEngine Award for Educational Fundraising from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, or CASE. This award recognizes superior fundraising programs across the country and is part of CASE’s Circle of Excellence program, which honors exemplary advancement initiatives and activities. Xavier is one of only 40 schools nationwide to receive this award. Other winners include highly regarded institutions such as Columbia, Yale, Michigan, UCLA, Villanova, North Carolina and Johns Hopkins.
In a letter announcing the award, CASE President John Lippincott said this of Xavier: “Your institution has not only demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism and best practice in its fundraising efforts, it has contributed to the betterment of educational advancement worldwide.”
The award is based on the analysis of three years of fundraising data. “This prestigious honor reflects the leadership of our president, the hard work of our staff and the generosity and passion of our alumni and donors, who continue to strongly support Xavier’s 178-year-old mission of developing men and women for others,” says Gary Massa, Xavier’s Vice President for University Relations. “Thanks to all these supporters, our fundraising success will allow Xavier to revolutionize the student learning experience and dramatically enhance the campus environment.”
The ability to significantly enhance the University through fundraising success is a relatively recent phenomenon at Xavier. To wit:
• One third of all funds raised in Xavier history have been raised in the last five years.
• One half of all funds raised in Xavier history have been raised in the last 10 years.
• Contributions to the Annual Fund have doubled in the last 10 years.
• Membership in The 1831 Society (those who donate $1,000 or more each year) has doubled in the last five years.
• Membership in the Father Finn Society (those who have made planned gifts to the University) has also doubled in the last five years.
• Finally, athletic fundraising has grown from $10,000 to more than $1 million annually since 2002.
This success has put the University on solid financial ground and in a position to better weather the economic troubles on Wall Street and Main Street.
“We’re very fortunate and grateful to be in a strong position financially,” says Massa. “That said, our endowment is much smaller than that of many competitor schools, which limits the amount of financial aid and scholarships we can offer prospective students. Schools like Dayton and Miami can offer more student aid than Xavier can, which causes some worthy students to go elsewhere.
“We’re working hard to eliminate this shortfall. Growing the endowment takes time, and it will be the focus of our next campaign. Based on our success over the past decade, I’m confident that we have the staff and focus to get there.”
The responsibility for fundraising at Xavier involves many individuals across campus but is housed in the Division of University Relations, which includes staff to:
• Meet individually with those alumni and friends who have the financial wherewithal to make gifts of $25,000 or more.
• Appeal broadly to those able to make gifts on an annual basis.
• Connect and engage alumni and friends for the purposes of maintaining and/or enhancing their relationship with Xavier.
• Communicate to alumni and friends about institutional efforts, initiatives and opportunities.
• Document all vital interactions and transactions.
The efforts of these staff members, and those across the University, were further recognized and complimented in August, when U.S. News & World Report released its annual college rankings. Once again, Xavier was prominently positioned in several categories listing the top master’s-level universities in the Midwest:
• Overall, Xavier ranks among the top 10 colleges and universities for the 15th consecutive year, placing No. 3 this year.
• Xavier ranks No. 1 for the best graduation rate and No. 1 for the best rate of retention for freshman students for the seventh consecutive year.
• Xavier ranks No. 2 in the category of Up and Coming Schools and No. 6 for Best Undergraduate Teaching.
• Finally, Xavier ranks No. 2 for the highest percentage of alumni to donate annually.
“All these rankings are very gratifying and support the fact that we’re clearly succeeding in serving the needs of our students,” says Massa. “Naturally, the alumni giving percentage is very important to me. It’s also very important to the success of our university and will be for generations to come.”