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Alumnus donates $20 million to support students of low socioeconomic status

| Friday, September 4, 2015

The University announced Friday the creation of the Fighting Irish Initiative, made possible by a $20 million donation to Notre Dame by 1988 graduate Sean Cullinan and his wife Sue, according to a University press release.

The Fighting Irish Initiative will be a “groundbreaking” program to fund fully the education of students coming from low-income households making less than $50,000 annually, the press release stated. The program will also create a “comprehensive enrichment program” to help students glean the most from their time at the University.

University President Fr. John Jenkins stressed in the press release the importance of making the Notre Dame education available to all students regardless of socioeconomic status.

“We want to ensure that the talented students who are admitted to Notre Dame are able to attend and find a supportive home here,” Jenkins said in the release. “We are tremendously grateful to Sean and Sue for their willingness to fund an initiative that will make a Notre Dame education a reality for those who are in need of financial assistance, and then to make the years they spend here on campus as successful and rewarding as possible.”

The initiative will cover all official costs of Notre Dame, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation but will also cover less obvious expenses such as winter clothing, study abroad expenses and tickets to athletic and dorm events, according to the release. The Cullinans’ donation will also fund the hiring of a full-time staff to lead the program.  

Don Bishop, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment, said a diversity of students provides an asset to the University.

“Notre Dame has established itself among the top 15 national research universities for the quality of its student body,” Bishop said in the statement. “In the past five years we have added more students from the lowest-income households and have strategies in place to continue to find and cultivate even more of these top scholars.

“Adding more support and enhancements in programs to elevate their educational, professional and personal development is an exciting prospect for us as well as our students.”

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