Texas Lutheran University has recently achieved record numbers in a fundraising campaign geared toward the betterment of campus life, and growth.
In the past eight years, the college raised about $75.6 million during the “Ignite. Inspire. Impact.” fundraising campaign, which has become the most successful drive in the university’s history.
“We started all of this a couple of years ago with the goal to build the athletic stadium, and that includes the new softball stadium that we have, the football stadium, and we also added lights to our baseball field,” TLU Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Renee Rehfeld said. “All of that was a kickoff to this comprehensive campaign that we did. The campaign also included raising money not only for buildings, but also for scholarships and online programs like the nursing program and masters for data analytics. Then we kind of culminated it with the Western Center for the Performing Arts, which was our latest building project that just opened about a year and a half ago.”
The campaign began in 2011 under the helm of former Texas Lutheran University President Stuart Dorsey and continued until his retirement and the campaign’s closing a year ahead of schedule on May 31, 2019.
“Dr. Dorsey had just come on as our president at the time and there was a strategic plan in place that showed where we wanted the campus to go in terms of what facilities were top priorities,” Rehfeld said. “Once he got on board, he really wanted to see some of those things happen because at that time football was the only sport that was played off campus so that became a top priority. Also, our track and field had never even had a facility at the time, so building up the athletic department was the first program.”
Overtime, “Ignite. Inspire. Impact.” was able to shatter the previous campaign’s total of $50 million raised 13 years prior, thanks to a total of 7,162 donors.
“Basically, out of the $75 million, the largest portions of money came from friends of the university, which came out to about $33 million. The second-largest amount was about $20 million, which came from our alumni,” Rehfeld said. “We also had pretty strong support from foundations and corporations, which came out to about $13 million.”
Other donations came from areas such as churches equating to $984,000 in donations, $663,000 from trusts and $8.25 million from estates.
“A lot of the money was raised for current building projects and scholarships,” Rehfeld said. “Most of the scholarships are endowed scholarships that not only help current students but will also help students for generations to come. So not only were we taking care of the current students and making their experiences better, but we were also looking at the future of TLU and making the experience better overall.”
Strong leadership was the source of the bountiful campaign, Rehfeld said.
“We had a board of regents group that was willing to look into the future and take the initiative to make positive impacts and really make a transformational difference for Texas Lutheran,” Rehfeld said. “For instance, with the nursing program, we know that there’s a huge need for nurses, and looking at that program and putting that in place, it was easy to get funding because you’re actually making a huge impact with those initiatives. That’s really what it all boils down to is that we had some great initiatives that made huge impacts not just for our students but for the future that they were going into as well.”
The outcome of the campaign has set forth a momentum of success for future drives, Rehfeld said.
“The goal was that everything that was happening on campus was building more drive for the next project and the next project, and we saw that throughout the whole campaign,” Rehfeld said.
The university’s recognition as a top campus in several areas — including honors as a Great College to Work For — and the new programs it is bringing to the community give TLU more notoriety locally, Rehfeld said.
“I think … that makes people want to invest in the university when they see that there are some really good programs out here,” she said.
While the bulk of the campaign is wrapped up, there are a few smaller projects and programs waiting in the wings, Rehfeld said.
“All of our planned building has been completed thanks to this campaign, but we do have a couple of projects in mind for the future, but that will all be a part of the next campaign,” she said.