Throughout the country, there has been much discussion on the rising cost of college tuition and fees.
According to the Institute for College Access & Success, , the average debt of graduating seniors in Texas is $26,250, which is below the national average.
The University of Dallas Financial Aid office prides itself on making paying for college accessible, understandable and actionable.
As a result, UD was named first on Time.com’s list of “The 50 Best Private Colleges for Merit Aid.”
Along with this recognition comes a question: does UD have a sustainable enough flux of donations to keep giving incoming students the level of merit aid they require?
President Thomas Keefe said in his annual “Once a Crusader, Always a Crusader” address, that in the next two years the University must raise $40 million to cover both new expenses and pre-existing expenses.
“Most of the buildings around UD were paid for by donors who did not even attend UD,” Sybil Novinski, the UD historian, said. “The people that made this place possible really up until now did not even come here for school. They gave lots of time, money and influence by convincing others to give. That is what a good reputation does. If Eugene Constantin asked someone from Texas Industries to donate they’d ask if he was donating and when he said yes, they asked if it was a lot, and he said yes. Ted Haggerty told his employees that UD is fundraising and they are important so you should give. And people gave. ”
Today, UD’s Office of Advancement plays a key role in addressing the need for funds by contacting alumni and facilitating the donation of many gifts to various avenues of the university.
In the last year, over 4,000 new donors pledged their support, and between 2012 and 2015, the university’s revenue growth rate, 5.7 percent, was larger than its expense growth rate, 4.7 percent.
The Cor Challenge is one of many annual events that generates funds for the University.
Last year alone, 503 donors from 44 states and eight countries gave a total of $80,928.
This far exceeded the goal of $50,000, while also showing a 52 percent increase in participation.
Especially noteworthy is the donations from the Class of 1986, who came together to account for over 35 percent of the Cor donations.
Callie Ewing, who assisted with the Cor Challenge, said even a small amount can prove invaluable.
“The thing about it is I think alumni do not generally understand that the participation rate matters for foundations and grants.” Ewing said. “Corporations look at how many alumni give. It doesn’t matter how much, even if it’s $10.”
Novinski also emphasizes the need for a high participation rate over amount, while also presenting the unique challenge UD faces as a young institution.
“We depend on the alumni to give back in gratitude to the donors who made their initial education possible,” Novinski said. “As a young institution, alumni are not always old enough to give, but we are getting to the point where older alumni have reached financial stature, like the Guptas at the college of business and others. Practically, the participation rate of faculty, students and alumni is just as important as the donations from large corporations. As a young institution where we don’t have as many alumni, our reputation has to grow and that comes with time and distinguished alumni, who have done significant things.”
Sophomore Parker Novey was unequivocal about his gratitude to those who have donated.
“When you consider the fact that our economy went through so much economic turmoil in the ‘60s, ‘70s and now most recently in 2008 and realize our young university is almost entirely reliant on outside donations until 2nd or 3rd generation alumni are able to donate, we should be very grateful that UD is still around,” Novey said. “We should be very thankful for that. They saw something unique and worthwhile about UD. That is a testament to the substance of what we are doing here.”
Finally, Novinski asked students to keep one thought in mind:
“The world didn’t start when you came in. It took a whole lot of work from a whole lot of people to make this great place what it is.”