QUINCY University found itself facing an uncertain future last fall when the school discovered an unexpected $5 million budgetary shortfall for this fiscal year.
The disquieting revelation necessitated emergency action by the Board of Trustees and QU leaders to identify the causes of the financial crisis and begin to formulate plans to address it.
While uncertainty remains as a five-year restructuring plan is being developed and a search for a new president unfolds, QU should be encouraged by the support shown in recent months by the community, alumni and friends.
Mount Sterling-based Dot Foods announced last week it is donating $1.3 million to QU's financial recovery effort, the second-largest gift in the school's 157-year history.
A $1 million gift from a donor who asked to remain anonymous was received in January, followed by a $300,000 donation in February from the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart. In addition, another $1 million has been secured through fundraising efforts to put QU a little more than halfway toward its $7 million goal.
While not tied directly to the financial recovery plan, Quincy Media Inc., the parent company of The Herald-Whig and WGEM, donated $450,000 last month for a new state-of-the-art digital television studio, production control room equipment and news integration software to enhance the school's communication degree program.
Clearly, building on those significant commitments will give QU the opportunity to emerge from this crisis stronger and better prepared to compete in a challenging educational environment.
"QU is a vital part of the West-Central Illinois community, and Dot believes that when our communities thrive, we all thrive," Dot Foods CEO Joe Tracy said in announcing the company's donation. "The university has a long history of providing excellent education in our region, and we want to see QU continue that work for years to come."
In addition to an aggressive fundraising campaign, the university's leadership, faculty and staff continue to finish details on a long-term restructuring plan that will contain permanent expense reductions while focusing on growing enrollment and increasing net tuition revenue.
The school also will be searching for a new president. Robert Gervasi announced earlier this month that he will be leaving at the end of June for a similar position at Ohio Dominican University.
"I don't look at this as a daunting challenge, but rather an opportunity for growth," interim Chief Operating Officer Phil Conover said earlier this year. "We have the ingredients in place make this work. ... QU has so much untapped potential."
Admittedly, considerable work remains and difficult decisions must still be made for that potential to be fully realized.
However, the strong, steadfast support shown by so many during this crisis clearly demonstrates that it can be achieved, and Quincy University will continue to play a vibrant role in the future of Quincy and the region.