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ND achieves ‘Spirit’ campaign goal early

Liz O'Donnell | Friday, September 4, 2009

Two years ahead of schedule, Notre Dame surpassed its $1.5 billion goal of the “Spirit of Notre Dame” campaign this summer.

According to a University press release, the campaign seeks to provide financial support to four main areas of Notre Dame, including the undergraduate educational experience, research and graduate studies, diversity and international studies and Catholic intellectual life.

“We are richly blessed that within less than five years we reached and exceeded the goal of $1.5 billion,” Vice President of University Relations Lou Nanni said. “People have stretched out heroically to give back.”

Currently, the University has raised $1.56 billion and will continue to look to increase this total.

Despite the decline in the economy since the campaign began in July 2004, over 70 percent of the commitments given to the University are already in hand.

“Our Lady was looking over us,” Nanni said. “We had the providence of timing with the campaign where it began just as the last recession was coming to an end, and we got so much of the giving in before the recent devastating recession.”

While the University is pleased at the progress of the campaign, they will continue to raise money for more specific individual targets.

“We have an enormous sense of gratitude, as well as a profound sense there is still work to be done,” Nanni said.

Nanni said there are a number of priorities that are not yet fulfilled, the most important of which is raising more resources for financial aid. He said the recent decline in the economy is a signal of the importance of this.

“Forty-four percent of Notre Dame undergraduate students received aid from the University last year, while this year over 50 percent will receive aid,” he said. “The need of current and incoming students has increased dramatically and we need to raise more money to keep a Notre Dame education accessible to current students and those coming tomorrow.”

Citing the need for the University to remain competitive in the market place for prospective students, Nanni said the money from the campaign will also fund academic initiatives.

“Prospective students are very educated consumers,” Nanni said. “They want to see updated facilities and who has strong programming in different areas where they intend to major.”

Nanni also emphasized the importance of Catholicism in Notre Dame’s mission.

“For the past 15 years, the same cohort of schools have been ranked as the top 20 in the nation and every one of those schools other than Notre Dame are secular institutions,” he said. “We feel we have an important niche in higher education and we are doing everything we can to strengthen and preserve the distinction of a Notre Dame education.”

While the money raised in the campaign will go to an array of projects, the most obvious are the additions to campus.

Duncan Hall, Ryan Hall, the Eck Hall of Law, Geddes Hall and the two new arenas for lacrosse and soccer are some of the most visible areas, Nanni said.

He also said there are a number of non-tangible aspects money from the campaign will go to fund, including the Rooney Center for American Democracy and the Eck Center for Global Health and Infectious Diseases.

“Only one percent of the world’s population has a college degree, so how are we making ourselves relevant to the other 99 percent of the world?” Nanni said. “We are enhancing quality of life through new knowledge.”

While the goal of $1.5 billion has been reached, Nanni emphasized there is still two years to go on the campaign.

“We will do everything we can in the next two years to raise as many resources as possible to enhance academic standing, improve all of our offerings for our students and ultimately have a greater impact on this world,” he said.