Southwestern’s signature Paideia® program is now permanently funded, thanks to the completion of a $9 million fundraising challenge.

The Robert & Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust offered Southwestern $3 million for the Paideia program if the university could raise $6 million by September 30, 2010. It ended up raising a total of $6,003,943.

Southwestern was able to meet the challenge with several major gifts this year, including a $1 million gift from long-time supporters Frank and Louise Carvey of Fort Worth and a $1 million pledge from Red and Charline McCombs of San Antonio.

Other major donors to the Priddy Challenge included the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation of Houston, Brent and Joanne Powers Austin ’74 of Houston, Laura and Christopher Chaput ’93 of Temple, Wendy and Philip Coffin of Georgetown, Berry and Linda Wilson Craddock ’64 of Colorado Springs, the Cullen Foundation of Houston, Carl and Beverly Stiegler Parker ’59 of Port Arthur, Jeanne Sanders of Fort Worth, the Shield-Ayres Foundation of San Antonio, Dorothy and Thomas Shockley of Georgetown, Neile and Jan Oliver Wolfe ’81 of Austin, the Estate of Sue Birdwell Alves ’51 of Lafayette, La., and several anonymous donors.

Paideia is a three-year program that helps students make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the world around them. Program participants have frequent small group-seminars with one of the University’s 27 Paideia® professors and stay with the same cohort of 10 students, all from different academic majors, for six semesters. All program participants have to complete a civic engagement project, a research project with a professor and an intercultural experience. Participants in the program receive $1,000 to help with the cost of their Paideia experiences.

The Paideia program was started in 2002 with an $8.5 million grant from the Priddy Charitable Trust, which included the $3 million endowment challenge. The remaining grant helped pay for the hiring of 10 new faculty members and the construction of the Prothro Center, which houses the program office. Southwestern currently has 270 students participating in the program and there are 355 Paideia alumni.

Kent Huntsman, associate vice president for development at Southwestern, said the endowment should generate approximately $450,000 annually for the program.

“A permanent endowment ensures the continuation and growth of a program that educates students who are dedicated to a deeper and more critical understanding of the world around them and themselves in relation to that world,” said David Gaines, an English professor who serves as director of the Paideia program. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, students will have remarkable opportunities to make connections among their different educational experiences and to live more meaningful personal and civic lives.”

Southwestern President Jake B. Schrum said the establishment of the Paideia Endowment Fund marks a critical turning point for the Paideia program. “We have known that this could be a seminal program for Southwestern students, but we are now assured that it will be a hallmark of the Southwestern experience forever,” Schrum said. “We are deeply grateful to the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust for their faith in the Paideia concept and in Southwestern University.”


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