Thanks to donors, the beat goes on at MU


Dear friends,

2020 was a year we are not likely to forget and, for many of us, would not want to relive. Unprecedented challenges, however, did not keep the people of Manchester from advancing our mission. Faculty embraced new ways of teaching. Coaches found creative ways for student-athletes to compete. Staff worked to keep our campuses safe and found innovative ways to continue the important work of the University.

In the Advancement Office, we had a virtual awakening about new ways to connect with alumni and donors through virtual Homecoming events, a book group, Zoom discussions on timely topics that connected alumni with faculty, staff and students, and much more.

Our most fundamental purpose – supporting Manchester students to become graduates of ability and conviction – continued unabated, as we awarded $1.4 million in endowed and annual scholarships to almost 400 students. Grants and donor gifts expanded our programs and enriched the experience of Manchester students.

Following are some highlights of what we accomplished, thanks to our generous donors:

$1 million grant helps Manchester add physical therapy

As part of its Charting the Future initiative, Lilly Endowment Inc. made a $1 million grant to Manchester University to help launch a doctor of physical therapy program. The grant enabled Manchester to hire Bhupinder Singh as founding program director of the Department of Physical Therapy. It also paves the way for additional faculty and staff as Manchester pursues accreditation.

Manchester offers an undergraduate degree in clinical and rehabilitation sciences that prepares students for graduate study in physical therapy and related areas.  

Spartan Pride Marching Band takes the field

A generous gift from John Zeglis, recently retired chair of the Board of Trustees, and his spouse, Carol, launched the Manchester Pride Marching Band, the school’s first marching band since the early 1960s.

The inaugural group included 10 first-year students and 20 returning students under the direction of Assistant Professor Scott Humphries, who also is director of instrumental studies and music education at MU.

The pandemic created a number of challenges for the band, but they look forward to future performances before a cheering crowd in the new Spartan Stadium.

June Giving Day sets a record

The state’s stay-at-home order in the spring caused Manchester to move Giving Day from April to June 3 and provide all events virtually. There was a virtual coffee hour with the president; cooking and baking presentations; live music performed by graduates, faculty and staff; a Snapchat scavenger hunt; and MU trivia on Zoom. The North Carolina mother of a current student conducted her own birthday fundraiser on Facebook and raised $410 for Manchester.

In all, Manchester raised $235,500 from 425 donors, more than doubling the 2020 goal amount and the 2019 total.

December Giving Day shatters previous year

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, has become the national day of giving. On Dec. 1, 2020, Manchester donors delivered its best Giving Tuesday ever, raising $75,108 with 189 gifts and shattering last year’s amount of $2,257.

This year, the effort focused on causes. The Manchester Fund received 97 donations for $64,400; the Athletic Department had 39 donations for $4,500; the Students of Color Assistance Fund received 29 donations for $3,570; and the Wendell Henry Sweitzer Memorial Fund for Students received 24 donations totaling $2,670.

The Students of Color Assistance Fund has helped students purchase their own laptops and pay their phone bills so that they can continue getting encouragement from their loved ones at home.

The Sweitzer Fund has been used to help students in need purchase textbooks, and can also be used to help students get to and from internships, pay test and certification fees, and provide other support that helps them stay at Manchester and graduate.   

Thank you to all of our donors who recognized the extraordinary financial challenges facing our students in 2020 and rose to the occasion. We would not be Manchester without you, and we are deeply grateful for each one of you.

The Manchester University Advancement Office