The enrollment crunch was the not the only impact of the recession on RMU. When the financial crisis hit, many donors were unable to give or wanted to wait to see how the economic situation would unfold. So major fundraising all but ceased, even though we were in the quiet phase of our capital campaign.
We still continued to build relationships with both longtime and prospective supporters, but in a way that was sensitive to their needs. We invited alumni to campus to see how RMU had grown since they were here. We brought supporters to basketball games and football games, and Polly and I hosted events at our home. We made sure they had opportunities to meet students and see how an RMU education changes lives.
Building relationships genuinely, based on our history and vision, is something I believe to be a strength of the university. Recent months have borne that out. We are grateful for these gifts, as well as others:
• $5 million from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, which, when it was announced, was the largest gift in the university’s history. The foundation gave $3 million toward a new building for the School of Business — under construction and set to open in the fall — and $2 million to create an endowment for the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management. The Bayer Center also recently received a gift from the Eden Hall Foundation to support a program researching the lives of women in nonprofit organizations.
• $10 million from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, including $5 million for the business school building and $5 million for a planned medical simulation center for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. The simulation facility, called The Regional Research and Innovations in Simulation Education (RISE) Center, will be a 19,000 square-foot building dedicated to nursing simulation education, research and training. The RISE Center will be a community resource that will be used to train nursing/health sciences educators, as well as be made available to other regional schools of nursing and health care organizations including the programs at Heritage Valley, Ohio Valley, Community College of Allegheny County, and others. The RISE Center is currently in the design phase. The nursing school also received $845,000 for its simulation laboratory in John Jay Center, including $250,000 grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield; a $500,000 state grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, presented by state Rep. Mark Mustio and state Sen. John Pippy; and a $95,000 federal grant made possible by U.S. Sens. Robert Casey Jr. and Arlen Specter.
• $1 million from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, to endow a four-year, full tuition scholarship for an economically disadvantaged student in the university’s actuarial science program. The student will have to meet the actuarial science program’s rigorous enrollment standards: at least a 650 on the mathematics portion and 550 on the verbal portion of the SAT and at least a 3.5 GPA. The H.J. Heinz Co. Foundation also has agreed to fund a full-tuition scholarship aimed at business students from diverse backgrounds.
• $250,000 from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation to establish the Alvin Rogal Research Award in Safety and Quality Improvement, which supports research by students in the doctor of nursing practice program.