Marian University's $163 Million Campaign Makes History

by Bob Golobish | Feb 05, 2013
Marian University announced today that its Make History fundraising campaign raised $163 million, nearly $100 million more than the campaign’s original goal of $68 million. The Make History campaign, publicly launched in October 2007, produced a total of 19 million-dollar gifts, including seven gifts of $5 million or more. Contributors also established 133 new endowed scholarships during the campaign.  
“While an institution of our size and diversity garnering $163 million will receive much national attention,” said Marian University President Daniel J. Elsener, “what will forever impress and edify me is the profound transformation of our institution and what this transformation will enable us to do to better serve our students in Indianapolis, Indiana, the nation, and beyond.”
The Marian Miracle
Gifts from the Make History campaign have fueled a renaissance, which some people have called “The Marian Miracle,” on the Marian University campus.

Future Students Touring CampusThe most visible evidence is Marian University’s recent construction boom. Among the new campus structures are new athletic facilities for all sports, including St.Vincent Health Field, where the 2012 NAIA national champion Knights play. The university has also built two new residence halls, the Blessed Mother Mary Shrine and Rosary Walk, and the Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences building that will house the new Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, set to open its doors this August, and the School of Nursing. In addition to the new construction, many of the existing facilities have been refurbished, most recently the science laboratories in the university’s Marian Hall. Later this spring, Marian University will break ground on an upgrade of the Mother Theresa Hackelmeier Library and a new student center and learning commons.
In addition to the visible signs of construction, Marian University has made dramatic advancements in its academic offerings. The School of Mathematics and Sciences enrollment has more than doubled. The university’s burgeoning graduate programs in education have done a remarkable job collaborating with Teach For America and the Indianapolis Teaching Fellows. The Marian University Academy for Teaching and Learning Leadership continues to equip outstanding teachers and principals for Indiana schools where the need is greatest. And, future nurses in Marian University’s long-respected School of Nursing will soon train alongside the student doctors in Indiana’s first medical school in more than 100 years. Most recently, Marian University announced a dual-degree engineering program with Purdue University.

The Campaign History
In 2001, when Elsener arrived at Marian University, the school had a history of raising between $1million and $1.5 million per year. Based on this historical data and interviews with community leaders, a consultant determined that the upper limit of a multi-year Marian University campaign would be in the range of $35 million. Thanks to the courage of the Marian University Board of Trustees, the Make History campaign goal was set at an aggressive $68 million.

According to Elsener, the Make History campaign embodied the same courage to venture exhibited by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana, who founded the university. The campaign’s combination of a courageous goal, a compelling vision of building a great Catholic university in a great American city, and the conviction to found the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine brought an unprecedented amount of generous donors to the cause.
In order to fuel its fundraising success, Marian University relied on the belief and driving force of key individuals including outstanding campaign leadership, its visionary Board of Trustees, dedicated alumni, and enthusiastic community leaders such as John and Sarah Lechleiter and Jerry Semler. The combination of goal, vision, and support made it possible for Marian University to smash its original, seemingly preposterous, target by nearly $100 million.

This past October, Marian University celebrated its 75th anniversary with a commemorative gala at the JW Marriott Indianapolis. At the event, Elsener announced the Make History campaign had raised $153 million, but reminded patrons that additional gifts would be included through December 31. That very night, the university received a $25,000 contribution from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and it raised an additional $10 million before the end of 2012.

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