When the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the nation in the spring, the impact it had on the student admissions was significant. The ability of some families to send students to Loras was becoming increasingly difficult.
In response, the Loras College Board of Regents and emeriti has donated more than $600,000 for emergency student aid relief for families impacted by the pandemic to help clear the financial hurdles that would prevent students from attending Loras in the fall.
The Advancement Committee, working with Senior Vice President Dr. Mary Ellen Carroll, looked at how they could best assist first-year students who were planning to attend Loras but were impacted by the pandemic and help rising sophomores, juniors and seniors who want to return but struggled because of family circumstances.
“During the Enrollment Committee meeting in May, it became clear that many students were uncertain about enrolling in college this fall,” Regent Tom Tauke (’72) explained. “Dr. Carroll said she thought that $500,000 would go a long way toward meeting the unexpected needs of students as a result of the COVID-19 virus. So the Regents on the Advancement Committee discussed how we might approach the issue.”
Regent Paul Breitbach (’60) pledged up to $250,000 and challenged the other board members to contribute to the growth of the fund.
“This is our time to step up to the plate and try to make a difference and let the administration know that we are behind them and willing to support them,” Breitbach said. I looked at my financial situation and concluded that since I have been blessed in a lot of ways, that what I contributed was enough to get the attention of the rest of the regents.”
The rest of the regents were quick to respond and collectively donated an additional $250,000. By June 1, every regent had contributed with more than $500,000 committed. In addition to current regents, regent emeriti also have given over $100,000.
“I had a sense that this would be successful,” Breitbach commented. “It was gratifying to see that everyone participated. Just knowing that everyone was willing to do something meant a lot.”
Added Tauke, “I certainly believed that $500,000 was doable, although we’d never done anything like this before. Topping that goal by over $100,000 was great.”
The fund has had a significant impact on admissions for the upcoming academic year. More than $200,000 has been awarded to incoming first-year and transfer students. This additional funding now allows them to bridge the fiscal gaps that were keeping them from attending.
In addition to incoming students, the admissions staff has reached out to over 180 current students and their families throughout June as a follow-up to survey information they shared related to the pandemic’s financial impact on their families. As those conversations continue with more families, another $150,000 will be awarded by the middle of July.
Hearing the impact that the fund is having already means a lot to Breitbach.
“Anytime you give, you want to know that it is making a difference. When I read the comments about families that were impacted, it really touched my heart. There are people out there who are struggling to make sure their son or daughter get into college, but, without this money, they would not have been able to figure out how to do it.”
Tauke sees this as just the beginning of the relief fund as Loras alumni get involved.
“I expect that we’ll see more alumni and others contributing to Loras because they are aware that these are challenging times for many students and their families. Those of us who have graduated from Loras are very aware of how valuable a Loras education can be, and we want to make it possible for others to share our experience,” he said.
The Loras College Board of Regents is a volunteer board of 28 individuals, many of whom are alumni. The board has representation from across the U.S., with members bringing expertise from diverse
industries and disciplines.
“Being a Catholic college, having compassion for people and showing it is a very powerful virtue, and I think that is something that we always ought to demonstrate to people,” Breitbach said.