My grandfather, M.J. Walden, was 16 years old when he got a job at Procter & Gamble in Dallas, starting at the very bottom by cleaning out Crisco jars. One of 11 children born in the early 1900s, he had to quit school in the fourth grade to help support his family after his father died and the family lost their home in a fire.
His work ethic served him well at Procter & Gamble. He worked his way up through the company, eventually retiring as a master machinist. I’m fairly certain that with an education, he would have been a brilliant engineer.
My grandfather was a man who knew great loss – his father, his home and my grandmother, who died at a young age – but he was also a man who knew hard work. And he knew the value of a degree.
When I received my degree, and when my wife Kathy received her master’s degree, he said to both of us: “The thing about an education is once you have it, nobody can take it away from you.” What words of wisdom, from an undereducated man.
Even through my grandfather did not receive a formal education, others in my family did. My father was the first in his family to graduate from college, and my mother – M.J. Walden’s daughter – drove 100 miles a day to attend college as an adult, earning her degree when I was in the 10th grade. Because of their encouragement and example, I have been involved in education all of my life, and today I have the incredible opportunity to be president at Campbell University.
A Campbell education is a powerful thing to possess. Once you have it, nobody can take it away from you. A Campbell education continues to change lives – of those who possess it and the lives of those they encounter. A Campbell education is a lasting investment with enduring value that will transform people’s lives until the very end.
And a Campbell education is something we want to share with the world. This is the idea behind our current capital campaign – Campbell Leads.
One of the ways we continue to grow our student body and extend our reach is by increasing our endowment and providing more scholarships. Endowed scholarships from Campbell alumni and friends make it possible for us to award more than 900 named scholarships to students every year. And these scholarship funds are invested wisely – they grow and multiply over a period of time. With them, we’re able to support a diverse community of learners, many of whom (30 percent) are first-generation students.
Scholarships make up $30 million of our $75 million Campbell Leads goal. Another $10 million will support other projects, such as academic and athletic programs, residence halls, and our new admissions center.
The largest slice of the pie is the $35 million dedicated to our new 110,000-square-foot student union, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the fall. This much-needed building – which will feature new dining options, an 800-seat banquet hall, a two-story fitness center, new study areas and even a movie theater – will attract students for years to come and will greatly enhance the on-campus lives of our undergraduate student body.
Many of our students come here for the academic programs. Our goal with the student union is to enrich their experience once they arrive. The facility will be a great benefit to the community around us as well. To make all of this happen, we need your continued support.
The heart of what makes Campbell University special is its people, and we want to continue attracting quality students from diverse backgrounds by making Campbell a viable option for them. And once they’re here, our investment in their education will change their lives.