ASPIRE Luncheon: Eating With the Upper Crust

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With the start of a new semester, many students are content to forget about the classes they took before Winter Break, preferring instead to look ahead at the new information they will have to absorb before summer break hits like a heatwave. It stands to reason that some big news that hit Jacksonville University just before the long holiday might be shoved to the backs of minds of the student community.

The ASPIRE campaign is the 85 million dollar fundraising campaign announced on Nov. 3o, 2012. It received a lot of media attention, including a news story in the Navigator. It was announced with much fanfare and excitement, led by Tim Cost, chairman of the campaign.

“To aspire is to see the possibilities waiting on the other side of a climb to the top,” said Tim Cost, incoming president of JU. “Jacksonville University is in a historic spot to make that ascent. It’s our time. Please join us.”

This entreaty was contained in the packet passed out to the media invited to attend the press conference right before the luncheon.

Part of the fundraising campaign is a comprehensive plan on where the money will be spent, including scholarships, new buildings, and new athletic facilities.

The kick-off of the event was held with all the austerity that the occasion required. All the big players at JU convened at the Davis College of Business for a meeting like no other. Student representatives from all over campus rubbed elbows with alumni and members of both the board of trustees and the society of trustees.

Suits and ties, dresses and pantsuits portrayed just how important Nov. 30 was to the JU community.

“This is just a tremendous, tremendous day,” said Kerry Romesburg, JU president.

Big names in attendance that the average JU student might recognize are Fran Kinne, Mike Shad and Artis Gilmore.

As Romesburg pointed out, there were many people in the room who had campus buildings named after them.

In fact, it may be pertinent to point out that the incoming president Cost has both a baseball facility and a running trail that bear his name.

After the food was served to the attendees, several speakers gave presentations outlining many of the great things about the University. Some topics highlighted were the nursing program, the small class sizes and the myriad athletic teams.

The main point of the event was to outline the various ways that JU will use the money they raise to better the University and improve the experience of every student.

“We will be good stewards of your money,” Romesburg promised both past and future donors.

From a student perspective, it is easy to see the benefit from the athletic facility upgrades, the scholarships, and the College of Health and Sciences that will be located next to DCOB. What is not easy to see is why they should care about this campaign, as it outlines many long term goals that current students will only see long after they walk off with their degree.

However, the excitement and energy that the alumni brought back to that conference-turned-banquet room in DCOB will benefit the school for years to come. JU has historically had a low alumni donation rate, but with this campaign they plan to change those numbers. And under the careful guidance of Tim Cost, many believe it’s possible, including Kerry Romesburg.

“We’re lucky to have someone like Tim.”

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