The Power of X

The same commitment can be seen in those who sup- port Xavier in a variety of ways. The university’s continuous growth is made possible through stable leadership among its professional staff and enormous generosity from donors.

Xavier was established in 1831, but nearly 90 percent of the money raised for the university has been donated over the past two decades.

“Xavier has wonderful alums and friends who care very much about the university,” says Gary Massa, vice president for university relations. “And the Cincinnati community knows what an important asset the university is for our city.”

Xavier is one of only 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities that are run by members of the Society of Jesus, which was founded in 1548. Pope Francis, in fact, is the first Jesuit Pope. Jesuit education is grounded in faith and intellectual rigor. To this day, Jesuit higher education remains committed to academic excellence, service, leadership and caring for the whole person. Other Jesuit universities include Georgetown, Boston College, Marquette and Loyola among others.

“A Xavier education is not typical,” says Michael J. Graham, S.J., president of the school. “It encourages critical thinking and a global perspective grounded in values that educate and nurture the whole person and prepare students for success personally as well as professionally. Our students, both undergrad and graduate, go on to do amazing things and remain extremely loyal and generous to Xavier after they graduate.”

Xavier’s annual fund, which directly benefits students, has doubled over the last 10 years. Unrestricted gifts allow the university the flexibility to direct money to the greatest needs, specifically scholarships for deserving students.

These gifts help make up the difference between tuition and the actual cost to educate a Xavier student. The annual fund has experienced fundraising records for five years in a row, including $8.7 million last year. 

Over the past decade, planned estate gifts pledged to Xavier have quadrupled. Planned gifts are essential to the financial stability of the school. They are made through the Father Finn Society, a select group of alumni and friends who have made Xavier a part of their legacy by including the university in their long-term estate or financial planning. These gifts allow the university to make plans for its academic curriculum, programs, activities and even its buildings and grounds.

The impact of successful fundraising can be seen throughout Xavier. Since 2000 the Xavier campus has expanded to nearly 200 total acres. During that time, several signature buildings that enrich and enhance the on-campus experience for students, faculty, fans and alumni have been erected.

Those buildings include the Cintas Center, home to the Musketeers’ men’s and women’s basketball teams and women’s volleyball team as well as student-athlete academic advising. Cintas includes a 10,250-seat arena as well as banquet and conference facilities available to the campus and the community. Cintas Center has be- come an important gathering place for the region.

The Gallagher Student Center includes restaurants, a theater, retail stores, lounges, offices and meeting rooms. Gallagher is designed to meet the social needs of stu- dents while the Michael J. Conaton Learning Commons focuses on enhancing their learning environment. Named for the former Board of Trustees chairman, XU graduate and long-time supporter, the facility contains labs equipped with cutting-edge technology and services geared toward helping students achieve in the classroom.

Smith Hall is home to Xavier’s Williams College of Business and incorporates everything undergrad and MBA students need to be successful. A highly coveted feature is the Fifth Third Trading Center, home to one the nation’s largest educational installations of Bloomberg LP financial software -- the standard on Wall Street and throughout the global industry.

The university’s main classroom building is Alter Hall, which recently underwent an $18 million renovation and re-opened in 2015. Alter Hall was originally dedicated in December 1960 and was the first air-conditioned build- ing on campus. At the time, it included a 300-seat lecture hall and 33 classrooms, which doubled classroom space for the university. The new Alter is a state-of-the-art 21st century classroom building that includes four floors of uniquely designed classrooms and learning spaces for traditional classes, small work groups, collaborative group projects and the Honors Program. Carrying on Xavier’s commitment to sustainability, Alter Hall incorporates increased energy and water efficiency and was built to meet LEED gold building standards.

A new, dramatic stairway, named for the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola, has been added along- side Alter Hall and connects the Hoff Quad Plaza to the Academic Mall. The Loyola steps have become a new gathering place for Xavier students. They feature a rain and bog garden that captures rainwater from the roof and diverts it from the storm sewer system to support native plants, creating a wetland habitat. The rain garden and bog will be used in a variety of science classes for labs and research.

Although an updated and cutting-edge physical space is important to Xavier’s future, support from donors goes much further. “Jesuit universities give students the means to become successful and live a life of significance,” says Massa. ”With that success, there’s an expectation for our graduates not only to make XU a better place, but to make the world a betterplace.” 

Massa credits Graham, Xavier’s 34th president, with navigating Xavier’s success and leading the university into the future.

“Father Graham has been a real force in the community,” says Massa. “Our previous president, Father Jim Hoff, woke up the university and built the launching pad, and Father Graham has kept it moving forward. He has the unique ability to be first and foremost a priest, but also the CEO of a large organization. There aren’t many people that have this skill set.”

Graham reports to the Board of Trustees, currently led by 1976 Xavier graduate and local attorney Barbara J. Howard.

Members of the board provide stability, leadership and passion for the mission. Filled with C-suite executives, board members work closely with Graham and senior leadership to guide the university in a variety of ways and in sometimes challenging circumstances. 

“Our board members come from all over the country and are deeply committed to the professional organizations they lead and serve,” says Graham. “They are also very generous with their time, talent and treasure, giv- ing back to their communities. We are extremely fortunate to have their leadership and commitment guiding Xavier University.”

In addition to athletic success, quality academics and outstanding faculty, Massa attributes continuity in the fund- raising staff as a key factor in the University’s achievements.

“The average lifespan of a development officer at one organization is 16 months,” says Massa. “Our average is eight years. This speaks to how we operate. Together, our current executive development team has more than 90 years experience working at Xavier. It’s unprecedented in fundraising circles for a group to work together for this long.”

And the team works to ensure that donations to Xavier are used efficiently.

“We are very good stewards of the funds that are en- trusted to us,” says Massa. “Our team has actually been rated number one in efficiency when compared to other Jesuit universities in our cohort. We know we have a responsibility to our donors, our faculty and most important our students and we take it very seriously.”

Xavier’s commitment to students and growth isn’t slowing down. The goal of the university’s next campaign will be to grow the endowment, which will provide more support for financial aid and innovative programming that is required in the marketplace. 

“We award over $60 million each year in scholarships and financial aid,” says Massa. “And we have to always be sure that we have the funds needed to ensure that a quality Jesuit education is available to anyone who wants it." 

Planning to improve and update Xavier’s infrastructure is an ongoing process. The next building project will be a $30 million, state-of-the-art recreation complex. Likewise, the focus on providing the highest quality Jesuit, Catholic education continues with commitments to enhancing international studies, sustainability issues, community engagement and Ignatian spirituality.

The Power of X is more than a tagline at Xavier; it’s a mindset that the entire community embraces. Experienced-based learning, exemplary service and values, extreme achievement and an extended community for life are all part of the power of X and a family of students, faculty, staff and alums that are truly “All for One and One for All.”