Evangelical Gordon College receives $75.5M gift for student scholarships

Gordon College
The A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel at Gordon College, a Christian academic institution located in Wenham, Massachusetts. |

Gordon College, a flagship evangelical higher education institution in Massachusetts, has announced the reception of a financial donation of over $75 million dollars that it will put toward scholarships as enrollment has dipped in recent years. 

The 130-year-old liberal arts college launched its “Faith Rising” campaign to raise $130 million to “meet the evolving and dynamic needs of current and future students around affordability, academics and community.”

The campaign was announced last weekend as the university celebrated a $75.5 million lead gift from an anonymous donor that was dedicated to the college’s endowment and directed to fund student scholarships.

A news release explains the Faith Rising campaign actually began three years ago with a “quiet phase” but was publicly launched last Friday during the institution’s homecoming weekend, where the $75.5 million was announced. 

According to the college, the $75.5 million gift is “one of the largest donations ever given to a Christian liberal arts college.”

“Faith Rising is a reflection of Gordon College’s continuing commitment to stretch the mind, deepen the faith and elevate the contribution our graduates make around the world,” Gordon College President Michael Lindsay said in a statement

“The landscape of private higher education is changing dramatically, and this campaign furthers our commitment to serving future generations while advancing our distinctive mission. Faith Rising assures Gordon will serve our students for the next 130 years and beyond.” 

Gordon College has about 1,600 undergraduate students. The cost of tuition including room and board is over $48,000. Ninety-nine percent of students at Gordon College receive some type of financial aid. First-year students average about $29,000 in student aid. 

The value of the net assets in the Gordon College endowment in the fiscal year 2018 was over $56 million. 

Gordon College has struggled in recent years to attract prospective students and keep enrolled students.

According to WBUR, only 16 percent of the 2,500 students Gordon College admitted in 2017 actually enrolled in the school. The public radio outlet reports that one in seven students leaves Gordon College every year. Some believe that the enrollment decline is likely due to the cost of tuition. 

According to The Salem News, enrollment at Gordon College has dropped about six percent in the last few years. 

Earlier this year, Gordon College cut eight majors and 36 jobs. 

The $75.5 million donation will fund Gordon College’s premier honors scholarship that was introduced two years ago through its Global Honors Institute. The gift has also allowed the school to increase its institutionally-funded financial aid by 15 percent for new students this fall, according to the news release.  

The gift has also enabled the school to increase the level of the school’s merit scholarships between 11 to 33 percent.

“We believe this campaign will ensure that the high school students of today who desire an outstanding Christian education can still afford to be the Gordon students of tomorrow,” Faith Rising Chairman Myron Ullman, who is also the chairman of Starbucks and former chairman of J.C. Penny, said in a statement. 

“As the flagship Christian institution in the heart of New England, Gordon College has a rich history of preparing students spiritually, intellectually, relationally and professionally for a lifetime of growth — from their first job out of college and beyond. This extraordinarily generous gift and the Faith Rising campaign itself reflect a shared confidence in Gordon’s mission and long-term vitality.”

Over the next two years, the program will allow Gordon College to diversify its revenue portfolio to help it overcome the challenges facing many private colleges in today’s higher education ecosystem, according to the news release. 

This is not the first time that Gordon College has received a multi-million dollar gift towards its endowment. In 2007, the college announced an unrestricted $60 million gift from the estate of Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler. The Fowlers’ grandchildren attended Gordon College at the time. 

At the time, the gift from the Fowlers was the largest gift in the school’s history and tripled the size of the college’s endowment. As a result of the donation, Gordon College named its Wenham campus the Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler Campus.

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