Investment in Students

The College’s central place in the life of the University was reflected in Chicago Initiative giving. As applications to the College have continued to set records (12,368 applications for 2008–09, a 20 percent increase from the previous year), undergraduate enrollment has grown more diverse: The number of African American students has risen by 86 percent over the past ten years; of Latino students, by 122 percent.

The economic diversity of the College also is apparent: Approximately half of the College’s students receive need-based financial aid, graduating with an average debt of $17,000.

“Best Investment”

Finding ways to help relieve that burden is “one of the best investments the University could ever make,” says Dean of the College John W. Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75. The Initiative has helped make that investment across campus, funding 207 graduate fellowships and 177 new endowed undergraduate scholarships.

The effort began with the 2005 Trustee Scholarship Challenge. A group of Trustees—led by Edgar D. Jannotta; James S. Crown (who succeeded Jannotta as Trustee chair in 2003); Andrew M. Alper, AB’80, MBA’81, and current board vice chair; Robert M. Halperin, PhB’47; and Peter W. May, AB’64, MBA’65—set out to raise $50 million in endowed scholarships.

In May 2007, an anonymous College alumnus made a $100 million commitment to establish the Odyssey Scholarship program. Through it, 1,200 undergraduates from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or less—about one quarter of the College’s students—will have all or half of the loans in their financial aid package replaced with grants. The Odyssey gift also challenged the University to raise an additional $200 million to sustain the program in perpetuity; in response, the University has pledged to raise $300 million.

Graduate Student Support

Chicago’s graduate students, particularly in the humanities, social sciences, and divinity, often complete their degrees owing two or more times as much as the average College graduate. The University has earmarked $54.9 million to provide competitive fellowships, teaching salaries, research support, and health benefits for incoming and continuing students in those areas. The Initiative helped that effort, as gifts in support of graduate and professional students were made across all schools and divisions. They included $10 million from the Frank family of Chicago to provide scholarships for students in the University’s MD/PhD program.