Centenary University plans to raise $8 million in a two-year capital campaign that will provide scholarships for financially challenged students.
In a Tuesday announcement, Dale Caldwell, the newly inaugurated president of the Hackettstown university, said he hopes the campaign will shift the national dialogue on college value and raise significant funding for scholarships, with an emphasis on first-generation students and those forced to leave college due to fiscal challenges.
The Campaign for College has three goals:
- Making the case for college to counter the growing anti-college movement;
- Ensuring that every student, regardless of family income or financial circumstances, has sufficient money to earn a Centenary University degree; and
- Building Centenary’s brand as one of the most innovative and student-centered universities in the world.
Centenary has already raised more than $2.1 million toward the $8 million goal during the silent phase of the campaign. Caldwell himself gifted $17,000 to demonstrate how important he thinks the campaign is to Centenary and higher education as a whole. The money raised also includes funding for the Grace Y. Bissett and Louise Monez Hill Scholarship, a full four-year award for students who are dedicated to pursuing a career that improves race relations.
There was also an additional $100,000 from an anonymous donor to provide need-based scholarships, with an emphasis on first-generation college students.
Caldwell made the campaign a talking point in his recent inaugural address, highlighting the disconnect between public perceptions of higher education and the financial benefits of earning a college degree.
“Studies show that college graduates have 57% more employment opportunities than non-college graduates, have received 72.4% of all jobs offered since 2010 and an average salary of $84,000, compared to $49,000 for those without a degree,” he said.
Caldwell also said that public confidence in the value of a college degree has fallen to historically low levels and he also noted that many students begin college, only to drop out because they don’t have the money to complete their degree — things he would like to change with the Campaign for College campaign.
“Centenary, more than any other university I know, has transformed lives in a way that many think is not possible,” Caldwell said. “We have amazing stories of students from poor families, students with special needs and students with emotional challenges who come to us broken. However, the unique academic and emotional support we provide transforms these students from broken lives to productive citizens. This campaign is not just about me or Centenary University. It is about us supporting brilliant students, first-generation students and other young people who thought that college was not an option.”