Transactions from the Heart

Senior Vice President Terrence Sawyer reflects on Bright Minds, Bold Hearts

By Rita Buettner  |  Photo by Peter Howard

Loyola Senior Vice President Terrence Sawyer, J.D., stands in front of Loyola's Humanities Center

When he stepped into the vice president for advancement role three years ago, Terrence M. Sawyer, J.D., took the reins to oversee and complete the largest campaign in Loyola’s history. Loyola magazine invited Sawyer to look back on the campaign and consider how it has prepared Loyola for the future.

How do you feel right now?

An enormous sense of gratitude, and an enormous sense of accomplishment for the University. This campaign started as a concept, an idea, and there were people who wondered whether Loyola could raise $100 million in a prescribed period of time. But we did it, and we benefited many people along the way—students, faculty, people who appreciate and love Loyola. We did something that many didn’t think we would ever be able to do, meeting this goal, on target and on time.

Personally, this is both the hardest and the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. It’s so much tougher than I ever thought it would be—physically and emotionally—and it’s a million times more gratifying and more exciting than I thought it would be.

Explain why you feel so much gratitude.

I’m grateful not just to the people who gave, but to the people who contributed in other ways: the faculty member who perhaps did not make a monetary gift to the campaign, but who has taught students over the years with their heart and soul has contributed to this campaign in ways they don’t even realize. When we meet with alumni, they almost always recall a transformational experience they had at Loyola. If the experience they had in the classroom, on the field, and in the residence halls wasn’t a first-class experience, they wouldn’t even meet with me.

I hope we can all celebrate this as a moment in time that Loyola accomplished something that we set out to do. We exceeded expectations. That should be felt by everyone who contributed—even those who gave in ways other than by writing a check.

Why did members of the Loyola community want to support Bright Minds, Bold Hearts?

It boils down to a core premise: People realize that Loyola is a place that the world needs. And they believe that because of what it has meant to them and to their lives. One graduate told me that when he first came to Loyola, he knew it was Jesuit, but he really didn’t know what that meant. Now that he has graduated, the most important aspect of his education is that he learned about Jesuit values at our university.

Our alumni want to make sure this academic tradition endures. They realize that for that to happen, people are going to have to support the University in ways that are personally significant to them, and it is so affirming to see our alumni step up and contribute in very meaningful, tangible ways.

What has been most surprising to you about this experience?

First of all, it’s been extremely humbling to see the extent to which people are willing to give. A gift to Loyola isn’t a bargained-for exchange. It’s not a commercial transaction. These are transactions from the heart. When you ask someone for something that they don’t have to give you, and they say, “I believe in what you’re doing,” when you step aside and think about that, it’s incredible. That has been inspiring and really humbling.

The other thing that hasn’t necessarily surprised me—but is so inspiring—is how much Loyola means to people and their ability and willingness to articulate how much they value their Loyola experience. When they do this, they don’t mean the buildings and the physical manifestation of Loyola; they are referring to what Loyola means in their lives and the people who have contributed along the way.

What can we be most proud of as Bright Minds, Bold Hearts ends?

We hit the ball out of the park in terms of access and financial aid. We have absolutely moved the needle on affordability and access. We added 115 new scholarships. We created a program that underscores our commitment to the liberal arts and to Jesuit ideals in Messina, which has enlivened our faculty and emboldened our students. We established Global Studies and the Hanway Lecture Series and have become known as a university that helps students develop a more global perspective. We’ve been able to make significant investments in our world-class faculty and in our athletic programs, which are not only first-rate programs for our studentathletes, but also galvanize our alumni. And we’ve established a new vision for how a university can partner with the community through our efforts with our neighbors on the York Road corridor.

In addition to accomplishing the discrete goals this campaign had for itself, it also created an ecosystem that gave birth to many of the initiatives in the strategic plan—and the way in which Loyola is educating students to think differently about their roles in the world. Our Loyola community has a great deal to be proud of as we close this campaign.

How has Bright Minds, Bold Hearts positioned Loyola for what comes next?

It raises our sights internally, and it raises the sights of our alumni. It shows that when Loyola sets its mind to something, it will accomplish it. This is a cornerstone of our efforts to build a culture of philanthropy. If Loyola is going to continue its ascent, a culture of philanthropy will be essential, because our future is only as bright as our alumni want it to be.

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