Like much at the heart of Holy Cross, the College’s landmark Become More campaign began in 2013 with deep reflection and contemplation:
“What does it mean to think critically, act ethically and have hearts of compassion today?”
“What does discerning leadership, which marks women and men for and with others, look like in the 21st century?”
“What must we do better to prepare students for their future lives after they have left Mount St. James?”
Seven years later, conclusions point to the power of a Holy Cross liberal arts education — one rooted in a Jesuit, Catholic tradition and centered around the development of mind, body, spirit and community — a transformative experience designed to empower the kinds of leaders today’s world needs.
“The name of this campaign was Become More. And my own feeling is that this is a perfect appellation for who we are, who we are striving to become and what we want to accomplish on Mount St. James in the years ahead,” says College President Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.
“Become More resonates with St. Ignatius’ concept of magis — that we commit our lives to entering more deeply into our relationship with God, that we join with greater authenticity God’s people in community and service, and that we respond to the overwhelming needs of our time with greater intelligence, creativity and hope,” he says. “In a seriously fragmented world, experiences of meaningful community are more important than ever.”
After seven years of record-breaking generosity, the Holy Cross community has demonstrated its shared belief in the value of the College’s mission. This belief translated into widespread commitment — 35,378 donors — which resulted in more than $420 million raised for the College, far surpassing the campaign’s original goal.
The result was a successful campaign centered around Holy Cross’ mission, an endeavor that gave the now 177-year-old College greater momentum and capacity across all areas — from spirituality, academics, access, affordability and the arts to Athletics, recreation and wellness, career exploration and beyond.
More than just a final figure, the sweeping engagement seen from all areas of the Holy Cross community has affirmed that, at its core, this campaign was about people — those who not only value how the College has impacted them, but who also believe in what a Holy Cross graduate can give the world.
“There is a translation of Matthew 8:10 which says: ‘The gift you have been given, give as a gift,'” Fr. Boroughs says. “That sums up the response of our alumni when it comes to the education they have received and the education they want the next generation to have.”
For alumni, maintaining close ties to Holy Cross in a variety of capacities is one of the most profound ways they continue to share their gifts, says Tracy Barlok P19, vice president for advancement: “Our alumni have been present and involved at every stage, ready and willing to support Holy Cross with grace – the engagement of our community is a blessing and is what truly fueled this campaign.
“Three-quarters of our alumni — over 23,000 Crusaders — have not only been extraordinarily generous in their giving, they’ve attended campaign events, reunions, alumni club activities, alumni/parent programs and career networking and affinity programs,” Barlok notes. “They’ve volunteered, interviewed students, helped mentor students or hosted an internship; they’ve communicated with classmates and championed the College’s priorities.”
The campaign’s success, which resulted in everything from new buildings to funded academic and experiential learning programs and much more, is a direct reflection of everyone who shared their affection for Holy Cross, Barlok says, whether they were alumni, parents, donors, students, faculty and staff — or one of the more than 4,000 campaign volunteers.
From left to right: William J. Phelan ’73, P04, P01, P99, trustee; Anne (Schiffmann) Fink ’85, P17, former trustee and Richard H. Patterson ’80, chair of the board of trustees.
Among the many who stepped up to guide alma mater through the boldest campaign in its history were campaign co-chairs Anne (Schiffmann) Fink ’85, P17, former trustee; Richard H. Patterson ’80, chair of the board of trustees; and William J. Phelan ’73, P04, P01, P99, trustee. Together, with Fr. Boroughs, Barlok, the campaign executive committee and cabinet and many others, their efforts resulted in a Holy Cross that has become more in myriad ways.
While the original $400 million goal was ambitious, Holy Cross supporters — a group that included alumni, parents, students, friends, staff and faculty, foundations, corporations and others — rose to the challenge, a fact that was ultimately no surprise to campaign leaders.
“This campaign, its success, is due to every single person participating,” Fink says. “It wasn’t just a small group of leaders. It was the broad engagement and participation that’s really driven by the passion and love for Holy Cross.”
“Our alumni particularly kept giving, kept moving forward steadily, kept committed until our goals were met,” Fr. Boroughs says. “When there were challenges, some of our most committed alums and trustees stepped up more than once to reach across their own projects to support the commitments others were making in different areas. They wanted us to succeed and put their resources where their hearts were.”
Fink notes that pitfalls typically seen in campaigns of this magnitude were no match for the Holy Cross community. “It’s interesting, I remember at the beginning of the campaign being counseled as a group that these are long campaigns and can have spikes and valleys, and sometimes it’s challenging to maintain the energy for such a sustained period of time,” she says. “But as I look back, I don’t recall any valleys because a belief in the mission brought energy, passion, positivity and enthusiasm that I really saw sustained throughout the seven years.”
“The foundation of our campaign was the mission of the College — the education of ‘men and women for others’ in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition, and the dedication to undergraduate liberal arts,” Phelan notes.
The Thomas P. Joyce ’59 Contemplative Center
As the result of the campaign, the campus has experienced a significant physical transformation, adding three state-of-the-art buildings to upper campus over the past several years, as well as a dedicated home for spiritual retreats just 20 minutes away. With the Thomas P. Joyce ’59 Contemplative Center (opened in 2016), the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex (2018), the Joanne Chouinard-Luth Recreation and Wellness Center (2021) and the Prior Center for Performing Arts (2022), Holy Cross has been — and will be — enriched with access to world-class spaces that promote 360-degree development of students and community members.
“The construction of the Become More campaign’s four major buildings was very ambitious,” Patterson says. “We recognize that our students’ passion for spiritual growth and exploration, athletics, wellness and the arts is limitless.”
While Fink says there are many moments from the campaign she’ll never forget, one stands out: the beam signing in front of the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex. “We were perched up on the hill looking down over the campus,” she recalls. “There were all of the students congregated around and more students coming up. It was such an inspiring moment because it just felt like … progress.”
The Joanne Chouinard-Luth Recreation and Wellness Center
Beyond fueling a brick-and-mortar transformation, Become More was designed to impact every aspect of Holy Cross.
“It was really important from the beginning to define this campaign as a ‘comprehensive’ campaign,” Fink says. “Many places have ‘capital’ campaigns, but this was meant to address all of the areas that really define Holy Cross and make the College great. That’s why this was about mind, body, spirit and community — and making sure we were putting the appropriate focus and resources against each in a very balanced way.”
Through the extensive donor base, the College also expanded and created new opportunities for experiential learning and research, bolstered financial aid, enhanced faculty resources, and deepened mentorship and discernment in career exploration.
“If you see the output here at the conclusion of the campaign, we were very successful in keeping the comprehensive and balanced nature of it,” Fink says. “Because, ultimately, that’s the promise of a Holy Cross education — mind, body, spirit and community. And so it was so appropriate to balance the campaign that way.”
The objectives of the campaign not only aligned with the College’s mission, but also represented a forward-thinking, strategic approach. “The students on our campus today will be part of the global community of the next four decades,” says Margaret Freije P19, P13, provost and dean of the College.
“Our goal is to help them begin thinking about that fact now. We know that, in the years to come, we will need to continue to attract the best faculty and students. We will need to creatively explore new areas of the curriculum and the cocurriculum to ensure that a Holy Cross education will continue to provide a strong foundation for the challenges our students will encounter.”
For all involved, students stayed at the heart of the campaign’s work, inspiring and fueling the yearslong efforts. “They remind me of what a special place Holy Cross is,” Fink says. “The world needs more Holy Cross graduates — and the thoughtful, interdisciplinary approach they bring — to help face today’s challenges, whether in business, government, society as a whole. They give me confidence that what we’re doing is the right thing and that we deserve to continue that in an even bolder way.”
The Prior Center for Performing Arts
Barlok notes there are many meaningful ways that the campaign, beyond its original stated goals, has deeply impacted Holy Cross. “From early in the planning stage, we recognized that achieving our fundraising goals was as important as succeeding on a number of intangible fronts,” she says. “The relationship is symbiotic. We were able to exceed our total goal of $400 million, in great part by also increasing commitment to our mission and a clearer sense of our College identity.
“Over the course of the campaign, as engagement increased, we likewise received more prominent coverage for our academic and Athletics programs in high-profile national media, we have been recognized in many national rankings, and we increased selectivity and demand for admissions,” she continues. “Most gratifying of all, our alumni pride has soared, along with our volunteer growth and engagement. This is a tremendous testament to our College’s distinctive value proposition.”
In the coming decades, campaign leaders say the success of Become More will continue to be written in the stories of each student who grows in mind, body, spirit and community at Holy Cross — and goes forth to set the world on fire.
“We are called to learn, to teach and, so, to transform,” Fr. Boroughs says. “We are called, very clearly, to become more. And in the years ahead, we will attain new levels of excellence in teaching, in learning, in creativity and in scholarship.”
Written by Meredith Fidrocki for the Fall 2020 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.
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