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 Development Year at a Glance
Total voluntary support: $19.0 million
annual giving: $5.8 million
Alumni participation: 51.1 percent
25th reunion class of 1973:
45th reunion class of 1953: $448,793
50th reunion class of
Parents’ Fund: $746,557