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Catawba College Receives $13.7 Million Gift

June 4, 2021

Category: Gifts

co-hedrick.pngCatawba College has received a $13.7 million gift from an anonymous donor to retire the majority of the college’s debt, putting it in an extremely favorable position for the future and highlighting donor confidence in Catawba’s vision for academic excellence and innovation. 

“We can’t fully express how grateful we are to receive this unprecedented gift,” says Meg Dees, Catawba’s vice president of development. “It allows us to create even greater opportunities for thousands of students in the years ahead by accelerating our strategic goals and providing lasting financial stability and flexibility while we continue to transform our campus. This gift increases our capacity to shape the future.” 

The amount of debt a college holds, along with its endowment, are critical markers of financial health. With increased competition and declining enrollment facing colleges and universities nationally, the global strategy firm Parthenon-EY estimates that nearly 125 colleges in the United States exhibit risk factors that put them in danger of closing. One such factor is debt service that exceeds 10% of expenses. Catawba’s recent gift eliminated 75% of the college’s debt, dropping Catawba’s debt service significantly below that factor to 2%. This reduction in debt, alongside Catawba’s endowment which is currently valued at $85.3 million – a 56% increase over its value in 2005 – provides flexibility for Catawba to innovate and move expeditiously to elevate students’ access to high-quality, affordable education. 

“This extraordinary gift alters the future of Catawba College,” said Dr. David Nelson, Catawba’s president, “positioning us for financial sustainability that enables us to better provide access and opportunity for students who seek a college experience focused on personal formation as they prepare for meaningful life and work. We are extremely thankful for the donor’s faith in our mission.”    

The anonymous gift was made outside of the college’s current comprehensive MIND BODY SOUL fundraising campaign which focuses on improving facilities and establishing new programs both in and out of the classroom. The philanthropic support of alumni, parents, students, and friends during the recently completed fiscal year (June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021) exceeded $43.4 million – an unprecedented amount for the College. 

“Our college enjoys generous support from the many members of the Catawba family,” Nelson stated. “The occasion of this gift is an historic moment for Catawba College, signaling remarkable support for our efforts to prepare students to pursue lives well lived for the common good. We hope this transformative gift will inspire other alumni and friends to invest in Catawba’s future.”

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