Brescia University officials launched a new $3 million special initiatives campaign Friday night. It is titled "Onward, Brescia!: Stepping into Our Second Century."

The Rev. Larry Hostetter, Brescia president, told a crowd of about 140 people gathered behind the Moore Center that private colleges across the nation face many challenges. Due to a declining number of 18-year-olds and mounting financial pressures, 20 colleges have closed since 2016, he said.

"If we stop moving, we die," Hostetter said.

Brescia has experienced strong growth during the past five years. The university enrolled a record number of freshman in 2018, and, for the fifth straight year, Brescia saw its student population swell to more than 1,000.

Brescia broke ground on the Moore Center in early 2016 and started construction of the C.E. Field Center for Professional Studies two years later. Construction of a new residence hall started in February and will be completed in August, and a second one is on the drawing board.

Hostetter said the Onward, Brescia! campaign will keep that momentum going and make the university "a true 21st century institution, not an institution trying to respond to 21st century needs."

Details about the new strategic initiatives campaign will be released later this year.

"We can meet the challenges that are coming this way, but we can't do it by sitting back," Hostetter said. "We must continue to work as hard as possible."

He told the crowd Brescia already received a $250,000 commitment for the new campaign and is waiting to hear about the possibility of a $100,000 corporate donation.

In 2025, Brescia will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Its origins started with the Mount St. Joseph Junior College for Women in 1925.

"We are constructing another strategic plan that will usher in another era for Brescia University," Hostetter said.

Moments before announcing the new campaign, Hostetter announced the official close of Brescia's $10 million capital campaign that renovated the Moore Center and built the C.E. Field Center for Professional Studies. That campaign kicked off in 2014. It exceeded expectations by raising $13.6 million -- a year sooner than expected.

Kevin R. Carrico, chairman of the Brescia board of trustees, praised Hostetter's vision and credited him for the university's momentum.

The university's continued success is important to Carrico. His family includes three generations of Bearcats.

Besides Carrico, his mom, Becky Carrico, graduated from Brescia, and his son, Chase Carrico, earned his diploma there in 2015.

Carrico said he's already recruiting his 2-year-old granddaughter to be a student there someday.

It may be bold and risky to announce back-to-back campaigns, Carrico said, but he believes it is necessary to keep Brescia strong.

"One thing I have a passion about is (Brescia) being able to continue another 100 years," he said.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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