by Noah Tang
One year ago, during Homecoming 2021, Cedarville University announced a campaign of historic proportions. This campaign, called “One Thousand Days Transformed,” would require $125 million. The official campaign brochure names four areas they hoped to address in the coming years. Facilities, costing around $92.5M; scholarships and affordability, $15M; student experience, $10M; and institutional sustainability, $7.5M.
A year later, the University has made significant progress in attaining these goals. Jonathan Lyons, executive director of advancement operations, shares that 82% of the facility funding has been raised. The scholarship and sustainability funds have exceeded their goals, reaching 138% and 125% of their targets, respectively. And 87% of the target for student experience has been reached.
According to the campaign’s brochure, the first goal is expanding campus capacity. The brochure states Cedarville “must improve and add to our infrastructure in order to welcome, house, and educate the growing number of students who desire a university that is faithful to Scripture and marked by academic excellence.”
Cedarville has constructed four structures in the last three years toward this goal: Chick-fil-A, the Civil Engineering Center, the Callan expansion, and Wood Hall. Two more buildings are in the works: the Scharnberg Business Center, which is set to open in the fall of 2024, and the new welcome center and liberal arts building. Campus expansion is the largest of the four categories and thus requires the most funding.
“I do think that it is important for the school to expand because the student body is expanding,” says Malena Jackson, an alumna who graduated in 2022. “The new dorm construction shows that Cedarville takes being on campus seriously. Campus life is a big part of being a Cedarville student. The business department is growing, and it is important that the school can create a space that reflects the business department.”
The second goal of the campaign is to minimize student debt. The brochure reads, “Our challenge is making sure every student who desires a Cedarville education can afford to enroll and will graduate unencumbered by excessive debt.”
“Although Cedarville is a little more expensive, I found going to Cedarville worth it,” Jackson said. “I think that it is important for the school to prioritize scholarships because students won’t be able to come and enjoy the new additions if they can’t afford to come to Cedarville at all.”
“I really appreciate the efforts that were made to keep Cedarville affordable through these new scholarships,” said Caroline Sowell, a junior Spanish major. “I hope I will be able to apply them to my own schooling soon, but I know that they will benefit future generations at Cedarville nonetheless.”
The University has three sources for this goal: The Cedarville Fund, which keeps tuition low and budgets scholarships through annual gifts; annually funded scholarships, which provide immediate funding for pressing needs; and endowed scholarships giving consistent, reliable funding for students with financial needs or who demonstrate academic excellence.
The third item of the campaign is to “transform lives in and out of the classroom.” The brochure says that this is to be done through academics ($4M), global outreach and missions ($3M), student life and chapel discipleship ($2M), and athletics ($1M). All of these efforts are meant to enhance the student experience on campus and update
The fourth order of business is to provide for the future. On this, the brochure says that “while the majority of this campaign relies on current giving to succeed, a planned gift can contribute to the long-term sustainability of Cedarville University.”
Lyons describes the origins of the “One Thousand Days Transformed” campaign as a historic decision that broke conventional boundaries and thrust Cedarville into a period of rapid growth.
“In 2017-2018, the University went through the development of a ten-year master plan. With that many buildings over ten years, we knew we needed to fund them somehow,” Lyons said. “Historically, Cedarville University has funded one thing at a time. But in the last twenty years, the trend in higher education has been toward comprehensive campaigns. The nice thing about a comprehensive campaign is that it has a place for everyone. This is uncommon for Christian universities of our size.”
The dedication of faculty and alumni have been huge in the success of this campaign, funding came largely from the alumni body, and was given with specific wishes. The “One Thousand Days Transformed” campaign would not have been possible without the generosity of those wanting to see Cedarville grow and develop.
“It is our responsibility to respect donor intent,” Lyons said. “Money comes in interesting ‘buckets.’ You can’t transfer money from one project to another easily.”
In the coming years, Cedarville University will continue its plans of expansion, providing scholarships, enhancing the student experience and becoming more sustainable for the next generation of students.
Noah Tang is a graduate student majoring in Biblical Leadership, and a writer for Cedars. He likes to spend time with friends, ride his bike, and watch movies.