As Creighton University launches the most significant expansion of its business college since World War II, leaders Thursday announced a fundraising campaign to enhance the college's academic programs, to hire more faculty and to recruit more students.
Creighton, a private Jesuit university, intends to boost its business enrollment by more than 50 percent, to about 1,000 undergraduates, over the next five to seven years, said business dean Anthony Hendrickson.
Last month, college leaders announced that the business college would move next fall from its cramped quarters in the Eppley Building to Mike and Josie Harper Center, a 245,000-square-foot building completed in 2008.
“We have a unique opportunity ... to increase the capacity of Creighton University's College of Business to meet the business community's demand for our graduates who, in turn, will achieve an unprecedented impact on our world,” said the Rev. Timothy R. Lannon, Creighton's president.
The “Ignite the Greatness” campaign was officially launched with a celebratory presentation and reception. However, Creighton quietly began raising money in March and thus far has secured $47 million in pledges and gifts, said Rick Virgin, Creighton's vice president of university relations.
It is the first campaign focused on the business college since the 1960s, he added.
Because Lannon and the Board of Trustees chose to undertake a $15.5 million renovation of the Harper Center instead of constructing a new building with costs estimated at $35 million, a significant portion of the new campaign is devoted to faculty and students. The college contemplates increasing faculty numbers from 43 to perhaps 75 to maintain its current faculty-to-student ratio of 1-to-20.
“We think we're being better stewards ... by being able to invest in people and programs versus bricks and mortar, especially since we have capacity, bricks and mortar-wise,” Hendrickson said. “It also allows us to start increasing our enrollment much quicker than if we spent two years building a building and then launching.”
Among other things, the campaign seeks funds for endowed professorships, student scholarships, and array of faculty activities, training, equipment and supplies.
Thursday's event honored several lead donors. They are Charles and Mary Heider and their son, Scott Heider, and his wife, Cindy, all of Omaha; Mark and Margaret Huber of Omaha; George and Susan Venteicher of Omaha; and three anonymous donors.
A final goal has not been set for the fundraising effort.
Creighton's undergraduate business college enrollment would remain second in size to the College of Arts and Sciences. However, after the expansion, nearly one in four Creighton undergraduates will be business students, compared with the current ratio of about one in six.
For comparison, undergraduate business enrollment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a public land-grant institution, is about 3,200 this year. Creighton's total undergraduate enrollment is about 4,000 students.
Jeremy Fisher, Creighton's associate director of business career programs, said he has begun to turn away employers who seek to hire next May's graduates. Nearly all, particularly in high-demand fields like accounting and information technology, have jobs.
“We have to tell too many employers we're out of students,” Hendrickson said. “It's not sustainable to tell people year after year in October and November, 'Sorry come back next year.'”
Hendrickson said employers want to hire Creighton graduates because the Jesuit institution gives them strong grounding in ethics, community service and decision-making. They are well-prepared to join the workforce, he said.
More than half have completed two paid internships during their college years. Others participated in the innovative Waite Leadership program, which pairs students with business mentors. The curriculum of several Creighton classes is designed to meet professional certification requirements for insurance, financial planning and other fields. And some senior finance students gain real-world experience in the selective portfolio practicum, in which they manage a student endowment fund valued at nearly $4.5 million.
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