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The Year in Development

A Record-breaking Success Story

"There just aren't that many schools in this country that can point to an alumni participation rate above 50 percent … It puts us in an elite group and it makes you very enthused about the health of the institution and its promise for the future."

- Paul Sheff

If Paul Sheff felt any trepidation about the challenge he’d undertaken when he arrived on Mount St. James last January, the end of the 1997-98 development year brought results that put any concerns to rest.

“It’s been a remarkable year,” says Sheff, vice president of development and alumni relations. “I’m extremely pleased by the results and I’m excited about what lies ahead. Holy Cross has phenomenally dedicated alumni and that manifests itself in our numbers.”

Sheff has reason to be proud. His staff can boast a record-breaking year in fund raising with overall voluntary support of $19 million. This figure surpasses the 1996-97 total by over $7 million and it shatters the previous giving-year record, 1994, by $4.8 million.

“There’s a real sense of satisfaction among the staff and the volunteers,” says John Hayes ’91, director of the Holy Cross Fund, which, for the second straight year, finished above the watershed $5 million mark. “This is genuinely a team effort that involves the class chairs and correspondents, the gift chairs, and the class agents. It’s a good feeling, that sense of accomplishment, when, at the end of this long journey, you witness this level of giving.”

More than 40 percent of the Fund’s total came from the 12 reunion classes — led by the 25th reunion class, 1973, with a gift of $502,951 and the 50th reunion class, 1948, with a gift of $343,519.

“There just aren’t that many schools in this country that can point to an alumni participation rate above 50 percent,” says Sheff, who came to Holy Cross from Dartmouth, where he was the director of capital giving. “It’s very rare. It puts us in an elite group and it makes you very enthused about the health of the institution and its promise for the future.” For the 1997-98 year, 51.1 percent of Holy Cross graduates participated in giving, an increase over the previous year’s 50.6 percent.

In his first six months in his new position, Sheff has been impressed by the College’s sense of tradition and its surety of mission. “Holy Cross men and women love this school,” he says. “They leave the College sharing in its mission and they have a hunger to give back to the school. This is the motivation behind gifts from the year’s major donors, that desire to give back.”
Sheff is referring to another first in the College’s history — a record of five major donations in the seven-figure range. One of those gifts was a $5-million charitable remainder trust from Cornelius B. Prior ’56. Prior’s gift will establish three endowed professorships in the Humanities. It is the largest single gift ever made to Holy Cross. The other major gifts were made by John P. Glowik Jr. ’73, Anthony M. Marlon, M.D., ’63, Agnes N. Williams, and Michele Bowman.

The President’s Council continued to provide the foundation upon which the College’s financial health is built, yielding more than 75 percent of the year’s total support. And newer groups such as the Parent’s Fund made their presence known with gifts totaling $746,557, a 270 percent increase above the previous year’s results.

It was a year of innovation and new strategies as well. “The Trustee Challenge was a fine idea,” says Sheff, “and it paid off.” The initiative was proposed by Park B. Smith ’54, whose $1.5 million donation last year enabled the College to construct the Park B. and Carol Smith Wellness Center. This year, Smith promised to match any gift from an alumnus/a who had not given in the previous year’s fund, up to $100,000. The Challenge resulted in 1,500 new donors to the Fund.

While Sheff is justifiably happy with the year’s results, he’s not entirely surprised. “I think,” he says, “that the results confirm what I’ve always heard about Holy Cross and now know first-hand. That the alumni/ae are passionate about the school and its mission. This is an institution that knows what it does best — provide a first-rate, Catholic, undergraduate, liberal arts education. This year’s National Chair, Michael F. Collins, M.D. ’77, called all donations an investment in tomorrow’s leaders. And he’s absolutely right.”

“We’re proud of our accomplishments this year,” says Sheff, “and more than that, we’re thankful. These results have simply raised the bar that much higher for next year. And I have every confidence we’re up to the challenge.”

The Development Year at a Glance

Total voluntary support: $19.0 million
Unrestricted annual giving: $5.8 million
Alumni participation: 51.1 percent
25th reunion class of 1973: $502,951
45th reunion class of 1953: $448,793
50th reunion class of 1948: $343,519
Parents’ Fund: $746,557


Fr. Reedy and 1973 Class Chairs

Presenting the Class of 1973 gift to Father Reedy at reunion are, from left, Class Chairs Edward P. Meyers and Gregory C. Flynn, and Gift Chair John J. Murphy.

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