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President's Report

2017-2018 Academic Year 

It is hard to believe that the College is in the midst of our 69th year, and we are already recruiting students for our 70th anniversary year in 2019-2020. I am delighted to share highlights of our mission from the last academic year. And we are always honored to pay tribute to the many supporters that made our work possible. We are so grateful for all of you!

Last year, much was accomplished to ensure Donnelly’s mission can continue to flourish for the next 70 years. Pope Francis validates our mission when he challenges us all to serve those on the margins of our church and society. Donnelly has always done just that. We continue to provide college access to predominantly low-income students, thereby impacting the overall health of our economic, civic and spiritual communities. At a time when public and private – and especially Catholic – colleges are becoming more economically exclusive; the transformational power of Donnelly’s mission is needed more than ever. 

This May, we celebrated one of the largest graduating classes in our history with 97 graduates, 72 percent of whom were first-generation college graduates. Donnelly’s legacy of inclusivity continues and is evident among our graduates and student body. I am proud that Donnelly has been recognized for the second straight year as the “Most Diverse College in the Midwest” by U.S. News & World Report. We know our inclusivity continues to be a reason students attend and succeed here.

Considerable preparation last year also made possible an encouraging re-accreditation visit in September 2018 by the Higher Learning Commission. While we await their final report next spring, we remain very grateful for the tremendous effort from staff and faculty, our board and friends of the college who took time to submit comments about Donnelly. 

Donnelly’s Board of Directors also adopted a new strategic plan to support the College’s vision to “advance the common good by being the most transformative and accessible Catholic College in the U.S.” Significant progress was made in achieving strategic goals, especially related to the Transformations Campaign and Master Plan, increasing student learning outcomes, expanding our academic programs and sustaining our mission. 

So much was accomplished, but I must note a few highlights. Donnelly…

  • exceeded the 2018 Top Performing U.S. Colleges in all five areas of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement 
     
  • welcomed our inaugural class of Associate Degree in Nursing students in January
     
  • received a Dept. of Education grant to strengthen our student success in STEM courses
     
  • implemented new software to better serve and assess our students
     
  • completed our Master Plan’s Phase II construction and fundraising 
     
  • received the largest gifts in Donnelly’s history to support Phase III of our campus transformation. 

If you have not made it to campus in a while, we invite you to stop by and see our progress. Our Donnelly family – alumni, donors, volunteers, faculty and staff – are partners in our mission. We pray we can again count on your support in the coming year to help us continue to lay a solid foundation for Donnelly’s future. 

May God bless you in 2019!

Monsignor Stuart Swetland, 
President