Sorry for the harshness of the title. But when it comes to the urgent need of so many deserving college students for scholarship support, the crass statement of the Rod Tidwell character in the sports movie, Jerry Maguire, might actually be appropriate.
What’s the Problem?
Just last week I read about the cost of a college education in our region. All of the local institutions of higher education were listed along with the cost of their tuition and the average debt that graduates accrue while enrolled. The numbers were sobering to me, and I’m someone with who has an insider’s view of how much it costs to run a high quality university, especially a private one.
At MU and all of our local institutions, we genuinely bend over backward to make a college education affordable. I know that at Marquette the amount of tuition we forgo to make coming here and staying in school possible for our students is jaw-dropping. And to anyone who mistakenly thinks our local universities have deep pockets or are wasteful, trust me – we run ULTRA lean.
Let me cut to the chase. Students represent the lifeblood of any great university, and Marquette is no exception. They are our essential reason for being.
Unfortunately, in these challenging economic times, many of our remarkable MU students, and college students at all our local institutions for that matter, face the prospect of delaying or terminating their education. Sad to say, they simply don’t have the resources to continue.
That’s why I think scholarship aid isn’t merely important to the vast majority of college students nowadays; it’s absolutely VITAL.
As an academic dean, I’m seeing this tragedy play out almost daily. More and more of our students tell their advisers that they just can’t make ends meet. Their emotions go well beyond disappointment; their hearts are breaking. They love Marquette and the education they’re receiving here, and the harsh reality of parting with their dreams and aspirations devastates them and their families.
What’s Being Done?
For what it’s worth, I’m extremely proud to report that the university has gone to extraordinary lengths to sustain these students. But students’ financial needs now outstrip what we can hope to provide by a notable margin. And I’m sure this same scene plays out in all of our region’s higher education institutions. As a result, the future of college students in the metropolitan Milwaukee area now hang tenuously in the balance.
That’s the main reason many of us employed here at MU give as abundantly as we can to support student scholarships. We think about the contributions that these promising young leaders will make to the world with a little sacrificing on our part, and the decision becomes a virtual no-brainer.
And it’s even more compelling when we consider all the ways that society will be diminished if these talented, passionate young leaders don’t achieve their full promise.
Donors Showed ME the Money!
So now it’s time for a confession. I have another reason for giving without hesitation, namely that I’ve personally been the beneficiary of extraordinary amounts of scholarship support. At the risk of cliché, I can say with certainty that I would NOT be where I am today without the unbelievable generosity I’ve enjoyed. My father was a janitor and my mother was a cashier, which meant my family’s financial situation would NEVER have permitted me to go to college.
But thanks to many wonderful donors – whose identities I’ll never know – I’ve received plentiful tuition support not only as an undergraduate student-athlete, but also as a Master’s degree student, and then again, as a Doctoral fellow. It literallly begs the question, ”Have I been lucky or what?”
In response, I just want to say publicly and with the utmost sincerity, “May God bless all of the caring and benevolent people who helped me.” As I see it, the least I can do in return is to pay the debt forward, and I do so not just willingly, but joyfully.
Friends Can Help
Consequently, I would say to anyone compassionate, able, and forward thinking enough to consider donating to scholarship aid – PLEASE JUST DO IT! Yours will be a gift that keeps on giving — for all eternity.
And finally, I look forward to the day when, after presenting to a prospective donor the compelling case for supporting Education students with scholarships, that person will turn to me and say, like the Renée Zellweger character in Jerry Maguire, “You had me at hello.”
Final Note: I’m sharing this post while our students are on Spring Break, because they’d probably be embarrassed seeing a grown dean nearly grovel!