2021 Presidential Address featured major gift to transform the College of Nursing

This afternoon, President Michael. R. Lovell delivered his seventh annual Presidential Address virtually from the 707 Innovation Hub.

President Lovell announces transformational gift that will serve as catalyst for College of Nursing in seventh Presidential Address
$31 million gift from alumni couple will fuel scholarships, increase diversity, drive innovative health care advances and support strategic initiatives

President Lovell emphasized bold plans to grow, diversify and innovate the university’s College of Nursing in his seventh annual Presidential Address, his first-ever virtual address. To drive these plans, he said, the university needs support from some of its most accomplished and dedicated alumni, parents and friends. According to President Lovell, one alumni couple has “answered the call,” stepping forward to give a $31 million gift that will fuel the College of Nursing’s strategic initiatives, including enrollment growth.

Darren and Terry Jackson said they were inspired by university leadership’s plans to significantly grow the number of Marquette Nurses around the world as well as by the many alumni courageously leading on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“This significant gift will dramatically impact Marquette University’s future,” President Lovell said.

When announcing the gift from the university’s 707 Innovation Hub, President Lovell said that he was “incredibly humbled” by Darren Jackson’s two-word response when he asked the couple what inspired their transformational gift.

“We believe,” Jackson said.

More information can be found in the news release on this transformative gift.

President Lovell also shared the following news during the address.

Campus updates

  • After a yearlong Mission Priority Examen, Arturo Sosa, S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus, affirmed Marquette’s Jesuit character. Father Sosa called Marquette “one of the strongest universities in the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities network in the United States.” The process was led by Dr. Xavier Cole, vice president for student affairs, and Dr. Stephanie Quade, dean of students.
  • In collaboration with the Black Student Union, the university committed to improving the experience of Black students on campus and fostering a more inclusive and welcoming environment. In September 2020, President Lovell and Provost Kimo Ah Yun formally committed the university to several actions, which President Lovell provided updates on, including:
    • Increased Urban Scholarships by 40
    • Launched a fundraising campaign to endow scholarships and provide funds for housing
    • Made significant changes to the Core Curriculum
    • University is hiring a director of Black Student Initiatives
  • To better support students, a Student Success Initiative emerged out of the work done by the workstreams last fall. Led by Dr. Karen Robinson, Dr. John Su and Dr. Sarah Feldner, the effort seeks to better support students at the individual level, significantly increase four-year graduation rates and decrease student debt.
  • The President’s Commission on Racial Equity (CORE) was formed this summer to address racial inequities on campus. After a cross-campus assessment in which the team analyzed 15 years of campus climate data, the decision was made to focus on supporting Black students. Considering the evident synergies between CORE and the Student Success Initiative, the two initiatives are being brought together to maximize success. With CORE’s vision merged into the Student Success Initiative, the important work of ensuring Black student success at Marquette can move forward more quickly and effectively. Trustee Emerita Kris Rappé and Dr. Howard Fuller, distinguished professor emeritus, will continue as advisers to the broader Student Success Initiative with a particular focus on the recruitment, retention and graduation of Black students.
  • Another important initiative that emerged from the workstreams was reaching new student populations through online program growth. Doug Woods, dean of the graduate school, is leading this effort by partnering with Everspring to market and recruit additional graduate students, following an existing model through the university’s successful partnership with Orbis.
  • Kent Belasco, assistant professor of practice in the College of Business Administration, is developing a Certified Professional Banker program in partnership with the American Bankers Association.

Recognizing generous donors

  • A bridge to the future
    Additional alumni, parents, partners and friends have “risen to our every challenge,” President Lovell noted. National Campaign Co-Chairs Mary Ellen and Dr. Scott Stanek gave to emerging academic initiatives, as well as the Bridge to the Future fund, providing immediate support to hundreds of students experiencing financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A family legacy fulfilled
    President Lovell also announced the exciting news that the Frechette Family Foundation has committed $5 million to grow the Perry and Alicia O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism.
  • Building on a strong partnership
    In addition, Wintrust Town Bank has further invested in the university by becoming a key partner through a $2 million commitment to help build the new home for Marquette business and innovation leadership programs.
  • This fiscal year, the University Advancement team has so far raised $48 million from 16,680 donors, including a record $1 million for the Bridge to the Future Fund, which supports students experiencing financial strain due to COVID-19.
  • In April, Marquette will publicly launch the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in the university’s history. The campaign already has nearly 48,000 donors, of which 41% are first-time donors.

Difference Makers
President Lovell celebrated several Difference Makers—Marquette faculty, staff and students doing remarkable things in our community. This year’s Difference Makers included frontline workers from across campus; Dr. Cedric Burrows and Dr. Lilly Campbell, who redesigned an English course to focus on racial injustice and antiracism; and Wil Peters, a custodian at Marquette who exudes positivity and spreads joy despite facing hardships.