QUINCY University has made great strides since late 2016 in correcting problems that stemmed from financial shortcomings that led to a multimillion-dollar budgetary shortfall, although considerable work remains.
Not only has the university generated more than half of its $7 million five-year fundraising target, it has taken an important step in retaining and attracting students as it embarks on building its enrollment.
Importantly, students will be greeted by a new-look QU when they return to campus later this month.
A series of physical improvements this summer has breathed an exciting new life into some old structures. Residence halls, fraternity housing and social areas have been renovated. A number of other projects that are nearing completion will also enhance what acting president Phil Conover calls the students' "standard of living."
Moreover, much of the work has been done by QU students themselves. About 60 students who were spending all or part of the summer in town have helped with the renovation, providing 1,200 hours to the university.
Christine Tracy, dean of students and academic success, said the student participation is all part of a "Leave Your Mark" theme for the 2017-18 academic year.
"We hope that students will feel the sense of pride and satisfaction knowing the service and time they gave to the university this summer will forever change QU," Tracy said.
The "Leave Your Mark" philosophy is also a "Pay It Forward" type of approach.
"Ultimately, I hope this experience will encourage students to continue leaving their mark by giving service to their communities long after they have graduated from Quincy University," Tracy said.
Conover believes instilling a new sense of pride in the school has been an important element in QU's recovery process. He sees the new kind of pride emerging as a necessary steppingstone to enable QU to eventually increase its enrollment. This year should see the school move close to 1,000 students, with the eventual goal being 1,500.
Henry Haughton, a QU sophomore from Jamaica, has been on campus for a potion of the summer and has come away with a new sense of enthusiasm.
"I can't stress what a difference the improvements have made," Haughton said. "It is outstanding. The whole atmosphere has changed."
That accomplishment clearly is an important piece of the recovery puzzle.