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By Nayeli Cabrera
The deadline to make donations to the University as part of the challenge grant issued by founder Stewart Morris has concluded, raising a total of $3.3 million.
At a board of trustees meeting last May, Morris said he would match all donations, up to a total of $1 million, made to the University by trustees, former founders, alumni, faculty and staff made between May 15 and Dec. 31. Then, last fall, trustee John Gibson Jr. announced that he would also match all donations up to a total of $1 million, in addition to what Morris would match.
The University community responded by pledging $1.3 million, in addition to the promised donations from both Morris and Gibson, totaling $3.3 million. Some of these donations have already been received by the University, with Morris’ donation to be received soon.
Charles Bacarisse, vice president of advancement, said that donations from faculty and staff increased from 1.5 percent to 50 percent during this time period.
“That’s a wonderful response,” Bacarisse said. “It really speaks about a culture shift on campus.”
He said this was the kind of response that the University and Morris hoped for.
“Obviously faculty and staff give a lot of time, effort and energy to the University, so for them to decide to also give money, it’s really encouraging,” Bacarisse said, adding that he believes part of the reason faculty and staff responded so well was that peers encouraged each other to take part in this project.
Dr. Robert Towery, professor of chemistry, was approached by Bacarisse and asked to help spread the word about the challenge grant.
Towery’s first reaction was that the University community might have a tough time contributing financially to the University due to the economic environment of the time.
He still hoped that faculty, staff and alumni could start with volunteering their time for projects and eventually be inspired to contribute financially.
At the beginning of last semester, Towery spoke to the staff and professors of the College of Science and Math, and the School of Nursing and Allied Health.
He said he believes it is vital for faculty and staff to support the school because it indicates that they believe in the potential and future of the University.
“It is important to realize what a great impact these funds will have on the ambitions of our students and the work of our faculty,” Towery said. “These financial resources support vital academic and athletic programs and help to continue our mission to become one of the best Christian universities in the nation.”
Dr. Randy Wilson, chair of the department of government, sociology and speech communication, shares similar beliefs with regards to the donations made by alumni, faculty and staff.
“They are investing in our students, our university and our culture,” Wilson said. “The success stories of our graduates are one of the many ways that the Morris family and the many donors like them spread their influence around the world.”
Bacarisse said that the financial contributions by faculty and staff also increase the opportunities for the University to receive grants from foundations, since one of the questions on the applications for the request of funds deals with how many trustees, faculty and staff give back to the University.
Furthermore, these statistics help increase the University’s ranking in the U.S. World and News Report.
He added that he hopes that the University community will continue investing in the University’s future.
“Hopefully once someone starts making a gift, they see the value and are excited about it, so they do the same again next year,” Bacarisse said. “That’s the goal, to build on that and create a stronger culture of philanthropy.”