Once again, another year has come and gone. As I reflect on 2017, it is clear that Drake is honoring our inspiration to transform lives and strengthen communities. We are finishing the year strong and looking with optimism toward what the New Year will bring.
Campus is beginning to quiet down as students buckle down for finals next week. As for me, I'm certainly looking forward to spending the holiday season with my family. This year’s season will be particularly memorable for my family as we will travel to Kentucky to celebrate my parent's 60th wedding anniversary. My childhood home will be overflowing as we come together to honor a union that is stronger than ever and an inspiration to us all.
A new era for Drake Athletics
As usual, October and November were a whirlwind of activities and events. One of the biggest events was the announcement of the hiring of our new Director of Athletics, Brian Hardin. Brian is a Des Moines native and former competitor in the Drake Relays. He returns to his hometown from his position as deputy director of athletics at Marquette University, and brings with him many years of experience in collegiate athletics, including time at Ball State University and the University of Notre Dame. Throughout the search process it was clear that Brian was the right fit for Drake. His reputation for success and integrity in all facets of athletics administration at Division I institutions immediately attracted us to him. Most importantly, Brian understands and is passionate about the distinct and important role athletics play in supporting the Drake University mission. His strong vision will ensure a seamless, successful transition for our athletic programs and we are very excited to welcome him, his wife, and his three sons to the Drake family.
Just as we celebrate the beginning of a new era, we also mourn the close of another. As you may have heard, Paul Morrison passed away on Nov. 30 at the age of 100. Affectionately known as "Mr. Drake," Paul's legacy at Drake stretches more than 70 years. He had been connected to the University for nearly the entirety of its existence, as the son of two Drake alumni and as a student, staff member, volunteer, and friend.
Paul was a 1939 graduate of Drake, and returned as the first full-time director of the Drake News Bureau in December 1945. He later served as athletics business manager before beginning a lengthy run as sports information director. Although he officially retired in 1986, he returned to campus the next day and continued to serve as Drake’s athletics historian on a volunteer basis until his death.
Hundreds of people attended a celebration of Paul's life in The Knapp Center on Dec. 6—he was clearly loved by many and his legacy will live on at Drake.
Though it happens every year, I am always excited when the first round of acceptance letters start to go out. We admitted our first prospective students in late October, and our applications are tracking well ahead of previous years. It’s heartening to see these students’ enthusiasm for getting in to Drake, as you can see by the video below. Don’t forget that you are among are best ambassadors for Drake University. If you know of a high school student considering college, share your connection with Drake and encourage them to think about becoming a Bulldog!
Our current students continue to impress in all their endeavors. This fall Drake Theatre showcased four student-produced short plays, senior Madison Glennie was a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, and five undergraduates were chosen for the very selective World Food Prize Foundation internship program. This is just a small sampling of exceptional work our students undertake every day.
A season of gratitude
Also in November, we celebrated the ninth annual Scholarship Luncheon. This is a special opportunity to connect scholarship recipients with the generous donors who help make their Drake experience possible. It is always an inspiring afternoon, filled with gratitude and a deeper appreciation for the profound impact philanthropic support has on the lives of students. Attendees heard from Dan Connolly, our new dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, as well as alumna and current MBA student Megan Kassmeier, AS'13, who is the first recipient of the Judith A. Lindquist Scholarship for Women MBAs. Launched last year, this generous scholarship is named in honor of the late Judy Lindquist, a 1970 Drake alumna who dedicated her life to teaching socially disadvantaged elementary students. Judy's gift also supports two other scholarships for undergraduate students.
Generosity such as Judy's and yours is critical to our ability to fulfill our mission promise for all students, now and in the future. Many of our donors to The Drake Fund designate their gifts toward scholarship support, which helped us to provide 100 percent of incoming students with financial aid this fall. This is a huge accomplishment and a testament to our shared commitment to making a Drake education accessible to all.
As we near the end of 2017, it is no secret that institutions of higher education are facing a challenging environment, and Drake is no exception. However, we remain committed to providing an exceptional living and learning environment for our students, and a degree that will last a lifetime, acting as a foundation for meaningful personal lives and professional accomplishments. Annual giving to The Drake Fund is a key ingredient in making this commitment possible. Especially during times of transition and challenge, unrestricted giving makes a world of difference, as it allows us to direct funds where they will have the most impact. Unrestricted dollars increase the University’s financial capacity and allows Drake to be responsive to new opportunities.
I give thanks, particularly during this holiday season, for your generosity and support of The Drake Fund—whether your dollars are unrestricted or go toward scholarships or another designation close to your heart. Laura and I wish you a warm holiday season and a happy New Year!