West Chester U. raises record $57.6 million; 420 new scholarships on tap

Dr. Christopher Fiorentino, president of West Chester University, announced that the university has raised $57.6 million, a record.

West Chester University ended its fund-raising campaign a year early, having exceeded its target by bringing in a record $57.6 million, university president Christopher M. Fiorentino announced to the campus Thursday.

The previous record was $35.4 million set in 2009.

“The results were astounding,” Fiorentino said in an interview before his address. “We were delighted.”

Speaking to staff and students gathered at the Asplundh Concert Hall on campus, Fiorentino said about a third of the money raised — $18.4 million — will be used to create 420 scholarships. The new scholarships vary. One is targeted toward homeless students. Others are academic, providing assistance to students in fields such as nursing, teacher education, business, and chemistry. Some will go toward athletes, and others are targeted toward adult female students, age 24 or older.

“They’re really all over the map,” the president said.

Camera icon Raymond W. Holman
Christopher Fiorentino, president of West Chester University, talks about the results of its capital campaign Thursday in Asplundh Concert Hall at West Chester University, in West Chester, Pa. (RAYMOND W HOLMAN JR / For the Philadelphia Inquirer )

And $5 million more is being used for capital projects, including the recently opened Business & Public Management Center; $13 million will go toward operations, about $15 million toward operating endowments, $3 million for program development and equipment, and $1 million for visiting artists and community-service projects involving students.

Launched in 2013, the campaign initially was expected to stretch until 2018 and raise $50 million, university officials said. But given the early success, officials decided to end it early and look toward their next fund-raising plan, which will be timed with the university’s sesquicentennial in 2021. With more than 17,000 students, West Chester is the largest university of the 14 in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

“We’re, in a sense, gearing up for an even bigger campaign,” Fiorentino said.

He attributed the success of the campaign to goals that resonated with West Chester alumni, staff, and others. Donors were anxious to step up and help students in need pay for college, he said.

“The outpouring of support was huge,” said Fiorentino, who became president in January.