Progress on Catholic University’s Light The Way Campaign


Courtesy of the Catholic University Alumni Association Facebook page

By Jacqueline Jedrych 

The Catholic University Light the Way Campaign was announced in October as CUA’s goal for raising money for the university. The campaign’s top three priorities are the Athletics Department, the Columbus School of Law, and the Conway School of Nursing. The campaign seeks to improve the “academic environment, faculty excellence, and student success.” Light the Way has a goal of raising $400 million by the time it concludes in 2022; so far, it has raised $272.9 million. 

The Light the Way Campaign has lofty goals, which it appears well on its way to achieving. The money is coming mostly from donations from like-minded philanthropists.

“We are on track to exceed our goal before the campaign concludes in 2022,” said Associate Vice President for Constituent Engagement in the Office of University Advancement, Beth Ryan. “With one exception, we have raised more money every year. With so much progress made during the quiet phase, and with gifts coming in in all our priority areas, the university is confident.” 

The largest portion of money has come from individual donors. Bill and Joanne Conway have provided around $20 million for the nursing program. The Advancement staff is also encouraging alumni to reconnect with Catholic University. Alumnus Joe Della Ratta, 1953, made a $5 million gift toward the renovation of Maloney Hall, and Randolph Newton, 1952, gave, through his estate, close to $10.8 million to the university to establish 22 endowed scholarships across the university.  

“To reach these goals,” Ryan said, “our strategy has relied on attracting philanthropists who care deeply about our mission and programs.” 

The Faculty Assembly, a forum for the discussion of faculty issues, appreciates the work of the Light the Way Campaign, but hopes the university remains transparent in its fundraising and distribution, especially in light of the recent controversy at George Mason University.

“In short,” said President of the Faculty Assembly Professor Binh Tran, “GMU was found to have received generous donations from the Koch Foundation over the years and it was discovered eventually that the donors influenced faculty hiring and firing decisions there. In many cases, the Koch Foundation wanted the institution to produce research product that was ‘friendly’ to Koch free-market perspectives.”

Although the campaign had a big launch and a lot of initial publicity, the excitement has died down on campus. 

“The talk about the campaign has definitely died down,” said freshman International Business major, Catalina DeMassi. “I think at the beginning, they made a huge push for donations and now it’s started to dwindle off a little bit. But I do still get their emails every once in a while.” 

The Student Philanthropy Council is excited for the future of the Light the Way Campaign, but they also believe that information could be better publicized. 

“I think the Office of Advancement could do a better job of informing seniors about the importance of the campaign and why it is important to give back to CUA,” said the EBoard of the Student Philanthropy Council, “so that when we graduate we can be a part of something so momentous.”

Although the campaign promises many changes for Catholic University, students have not seen many concrete or visible changes have been made at this point in the campaign, which is about two-thirds of the way through. 

“I haven’t seen any changes, not yet,” said DeMassi. “I think the money they raise could be very beneficial, however, I’ve yet to see an impact of it on campus yet. But I think it shows the school is trying.” 

Catholic University’s Light the Way Campaign is the largest fundraising campaign in CUA history. The Office of Advancement is roughly 70% of the way to its $400 million goal, and donations are exceeding projections. Students have not seen many changes yet, but hope that the campaign improves Catholic University’s academic environment, faculty excellence, and student success, as promised. To learn more about Catholic University’s Light the Way campaign, visit the Light the Way website. 

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