Jacksonville, FL - It’s the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign Jacksonville University has ever taken on, but the incoming President is ready.
“We’re excited about the ASPIRE campaign,” President-select Tim Cost tells me.
Cost says the $85 million campaign is already underway, and they’re raised about $43 million so far from mostly individual commitments. Today, the campaign went public- and JU is counting on your help to meet its goal by 2016.
“There’s an awful lot of people who root for Jacksonville University to do well,” Cost says.
The fundraising effort will cover a wide range of improvements for the university. Cost told me they hope to allocate $19 million to scholarships and academics, $20 million to health sciences and nursing, $8.4 million to enhancing campus and student life and $20 million in endowments.
“We’re gunna be looking to make upgrades and improvements that we think are gunna make things much more entertaining and attractive for everybody who lives in the area,” he says.
Cost expects this to have a big impact on every JU student. From a more scenic campus to more individual scholarship support, he wants to really further connect JU and its faculty and staff to the surrounding community.
And one of the best ways he may be able to do that is through the fifth area of fundraising- athletics. The campaign sets aside $17.6 million for these improvements, which will include a new football and lacrosse stadium.
Cost was proud to boast of JU’s 19 Division 1 teams, and says that is something that continuously draws people and students in.
“It’s one of the top issues that students identify when we talk about what are things we can do to enhance their experience and their success.”
While Cost says it will deal with not just improving scholarships for student athletes but also facilities and enabling students who don’t play division sports now to have a chance. Facilities are nonetheless a big focus. In addition to the 4,500-seat stadium, JU is planning for a dedicated Basketball and Volleyball Practice Facility, Athletics Center and Softball Hitting facility.
Among the other big plans, a new 45,000-square-foot College of Health Sciences building is considered a central part of the ASPIRE campaign. JU says enrollment in its nursing program has risen 25% over the past four years for a bachelor’s degree, and they want the facility that will meet that growth.
Enhancing student life comes with remodeling some existing facilities, including the River House and Phillips Fine Arts Center. The River House will transform from the President’s residence to a recreational center for students. The Fine Arts Center will get an upgrade for performance and gallery space. There are also some improvements lined up for the Marine Science Research Institute, with the goal to add a floating dock and research vessel to the $10 million facility which was completed in 2010.