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Loyola reaches $1.5M fundraising goal for NEH Challenge Grant two years ahead of deadline

| By Nick Alexopulos
Messina Loyola University Maryland
The EN101 “First Encounters and the Literary Imagination” Messina class in the Self and Other theme visiting the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. in September 2016. (Photo by Teresa Heath)

Messina, the distinctive living-learning program for first-year students at Loyola University Maryland, will benefit from a new $2 million endowed fund comprising a $500,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and $1.5 million raised from dozens of generous donors.

Loyola was awarded the NEH Challenge Grant in fall 2013 and was required to match the grant funds three-to-one through fundraising within five years. With the support of more than 60 donors, including two whose gifts accounted for more than half of the match dollars, Loyola reached the $1.5 million goal two years early.

“When we received the NEH Challenge Grant three years ago, we were confident that our alumni, parents, and donors would step up and make it possible for us to receive the full funding,” said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president. “What we did not anticipate was that their enthusiasm for supporting Messina would be so strong that we would meet the deadline two years early. That powerful response reflects the conviction of our Loyola community that Messina is a true asset to the Jesuit, liberal arts education we are offering to our students. We are most grateful to those who made a gift to make this possible, and we continue to celebrate the many ways Messina strengthens the intellectual and social life of our University.”

Major gifts from Mark and Ann Baiada and Nick Kollman, ’62, were instrumental in meeting the grant’s match requirement.

Baiada is the founder and president of BAYADA Home Health Care, a provider of clinical care and support services at home for children and adults. The company, headquartered in Moorestown, N.J., has operations in 22 states and employs 18,000 home health care professionals. Baiada’s daughter Janice Baiada Lovequist, ’02, and her husband, Brian, ’01, are Loyola alumni.

“Messina is something that is innovative in helping to engage students and connect them with the Jesuit spirit,” said Baiada. “With Messina, Loyola has an opportunity to transform students like no other university, to help students develop a higher level of awareness and consciousness of their role, and ignite them as people committed to serving others.”

Kollman studied accounting at Loyola and earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. He spent his entire career in the printing business, helping struggling companies regain profitability. In 1991 he purchased the Baltimore-based John D. Lucas Printing Co., which he ran until he retired in 2005.

“Most problems you face when running a business are outside of the box, and liberal arts courses teach you to think outside of the box,” said Kollman, who grew up in Baltimore and now lives in Florida. “That’s why the liberal arts component of Messina is such a tremendous asset to any individual. It helps broaden you, helps you think, helps you solve problems.”

Loyola will use the $2 million endowed fund to support a new faculty position in a humanities discipline and to develop programming to enhance the Messina experience for first-year students.

All first-year Loyola students and transfer students participate in Messina, which was fully implemented for the first time in the 2015-16 academic year after an extensive planning process and two years of phasing in the program for one-third and then two-thirds of the incoming class. Students choose an interdisciplinary course pairing within one of four chosen themes; they take one course in the fall and one course in the spring, and professors teaching these courses collaborate with one another to ensure continuity of thematic, connected learning across disciplines. To extend the experience outside of the classroom, Messina students are housed in Loyola’s residence halls according to the theme they choose to encourage consistent intellectual exchange in different environments. The extra-curricular experience also includes theme-specific lectures, speakers, events, and activities, programming that will continue to expand as a result of the endowed fund.

Messina faculty, administrator, and student mentors held 1,800 enrichment sessions for Messina students in the program’s first full year. Of those sessions, 270 were class excursions to local attractions, restaurants, and neighborhoods. In addition, Messina cosponsored 45 campus-wide events and funded 59 residential programs tailored to the Messina themes. The class that experienced these sessions and activities—the Class of 2019—earned a higher average cumulative GPA in its first year than the incoming class in each of the prior two years.

“The first year of college can be very difficult for a lot of students,” said Kollman. “Messina builds the vital comradery that ensures students overcome these difficulties and thrive.”

NEH Challenge Grants strengthen the humanities by encouraging non-federal sources of support and helping institutions secure long-term improvements in and support for their humanities programs and resources. Loyola was one of only five universities and nine institutions in 2013 to receive a $500,000 grant, the highest increment awarded.

The $1.5 million in matching gifts for the NEH Challenge Grant are included in Loyola’s $100 million Bright Minds, Bold Hearts comprehensive campaign for strategic academic, service, and experiential programs and initiatives at the University. The total raised to date is more than $75 million.

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