Salve Regina campaign seeks to boost endowment

Salve Regina University first established its Newport campus in 1947. This makes it a relative youngster among the Ocean State’s higher education institutions, with peers like 235-year-old Brown University and 122-year-old Rhode Island School of Design.

Some Salve administrators say its youth is part of the reason the private, Catholic school doesn’t yet have a sizable endowment from which to draw scholarships.

Dean T. Holt, chief executive of Fleet Bank-Rhode Island and co-chair of a Salve capital campaign, said he was surprised that about 80 percent of the school’s alumni have graduated since the 1980s. In addition, he said, its older graduates entered professions, such as teaching, nursing and social work, that don’t traditionally leave them lots of disposable income for contributions.

The endowment situation has been of particular concern for Sister Therese Antone, Salve’s president. Some 60 percent of the 1,600 undergraduate students receive some form of tuition assistance from the school, at a cost of about $5.5 million each year, all of which now comes from the school’s operating budget, Antone said.

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The operating budget is about $36 million, according to information provided by Salve officials for the Providence Business News’ 1999 Book of Lists. Of the state’s 11 colleges and universities only the New England Institute of Technology had a smaller operating budget at $20 million.

“There are a large number (of students) who wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for individuals who contributed,” Antone said after an April 23 luncheon to officially kickoff Salve’s 50th anniversary fundraising campaign.

School administrators hope to raise $25 million through this capital campaign, which would beef up the endowment, and fund campus improvements. About $19 million has already been pledged to the school during the campaign’s so-called quiet phase.

Antone said the school has been looking to the business community to help its efforts, for instance businessman and Salve trustee Thomas A. Rodgers Jr. provided major funding for a recreation center.

And BankBoston recently established a scholarship for a minority student studying business there. It already had similar programs at Providence College and the University of Rhode Island, said BankBoston Regional Chairman Fred C. Lohrum, who is also co-chairing the capital campaign.

Sophomore Ronald Contreras, a 20-year-old from Pawtucket, is the first bank scholarship recipient.

Contreras said the scholarship has helped ease the financial burden on him and his parents for his upcoming junior year.

“As a matter of fact, last semester I was about to take out a loan,” he said. Though he still wound up taking out a loan, Contreras said he was able to cut the amount significantly because of the scholarship. Though he is looking forward to smaller student loan payments in the future, the best part of winning the scholarship is the opportunity to intern at the bank this summer, he added.

This year tuition cost just over $24,000 for students who live on campus and about $16,000 for those who commute, according to Laura McPhie Oliveira, dean of enrollment. And for the past five years tuition increases have not gone higher than 3 percent, or the rate of inflation, she added.

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