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Acts of Faith

Our campaign leaders share their stories of their ties to Loyola and why they have faith in the future.

A father drops his daughter off on Loyola’s doorstep on his way to being deployed with the Army overseas. The next time he sees her, two-and-a-half years later, she is transformed – her brilliant potential has begun to blossom into that of a successful, community-conscious professional.

A liberal arts major in love with cinema is encouraged by his mentor to organize a fundraiser in the form of an Alfred Hitchcock film festival on campus. It’s a smashing success. For the first time, this film buff gets the idea he might do well in business.

An emerging community activist longs to translate her faith into action. Under tutelage from Jesuits at Loyola, she gains the courage she needs to work closely with AIDS patients at a time when the disease is still intensely stigmatized and misunderstood.

The wife of an attorney who dedicated his life to fighting for victims of injustice traces her husband’s victories and their family’s prosperity back to his alma mater.

A young man with stout faith and an interest in theoretical physics finds a home at Loyola – a place that nurtures his passions for science and religion in equal measure.

The five men and women hinted at here are not ordinary people. Their lives and achievements have made them among the most respected members of the Loyola community. They are known throughout New Orleans and the nation for their work in business, advocacy, higher education, law, and the fight for the survival of the Gulf Coast.

But the ways in which Loyola has touched their lives is not unusual. Like thousands of other Loyola alumni and their families, they have each witnessed or experienced firsthand the lifelong effects of a Jesuit education from Loyola – the good it has contributed to their families, their careers, and their communities.

They understand all Loyola has given them. Now they are prepared to give back.

Today, these five people – Gen. Russel Honoré, S. Derby Gisclair, Anne Milling, Anne Gauthier, and Father James Carter – are working on Loyola’s behalf. Their goal is simple but ambitious: to help the university raise $100 million as part of its Faith in the Future fundraising campaign.

Faith in the Future will transform the university and dramatically enhance the Jesuit education Loyola offers students in the 21st century. 

An Army general, an entrepreneur, an activist, a philanthropist, and a scholar-priest: These men and women with very different lives are united by a belief in Loyola and a shared sense of excitement for the university’s potential.

As you learn about the transformative projects Faith in the Future will enable – increased money for scholarships; building construction and renovations; new centers for faith, academics, and athletics; and much more – their hope is that you will share their excitement and join them in supporting Loyola.

The success of Faith in the Future depends on you.

Being More Jesuit with Fewer Jesuits

Even as the Jesuit model of higher education thrives nationwide, there are fewer Jesuit priests on Loyola’s campus now than at any other time in the university’s history; the Society of Jesus itself has been declining in membership for decades. Yet the sense of Loyola’s Jesuit character permeates its classrooms and programs today with renewed vigor. This sense of Jesuit rejuvenation is perhaps the single most energizing aspect of contemporary campus life.

Anne Gauthier says she has been struck time and time again in recent years by what she feels is a “renewal of the Jesuit ideals on campus – the emphasis on critical thinking, acting justly, and finding God in all things.”

In 2007, the Loyola College of Law dedicated a new wing in honor of Gauthier and her late husband, Wendell, an alumnus who successful represented those harmed by large corporations, including the tobacco industry. Gauthier and her husband largely attributed their success to Wendell’s Loyola education – its quality and its emphasis on justice. The Gauthier Family Foundation’s gift of the wing was testament to that fact. Today, Gauthier says, her leadership of the Faith in the Future campaign owes greatly to her sense of a reinvigorated commitment to Jesuit ideals on campus.

 “I attended the Alumni College in June,” she says, “and even then, in that small arena, just like other times I’ve been on campus recently, the renewed fundamentals of Jesuit education seemed more present than I had felt them in years. You could feel this presence of God and Ignatian values. My friend and I walked away saying, ‘My gosh, these instructors are so proud to be here,’ and even those who are not Catholic have a passion for how Ignatian values can enrich their teaching.”

This revival of Jesuit ideals is not an accident. Since 2009, a concerted, strategic effort among Loyola’s ministry, faculty, and administration has worked to ensure the university’s single most important characteristic, its Jesuit identity, remains at the forefront of all they do.

Perhaps no aspect of the Faith in the Future campaign reflects this commitment more than the creation of the Tom Benson Jesuit Center, a $16 million undertaking that received an initial gift of $8 million in 2010 from Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints.

Father James Carter, who entered Loyola as a student in 1944, went on to serve as Loyola’s president for more than 20 years, and continues to serve as a physics professor, likely has the broadest historical perspective on the university of anyone alive. He points to programs such as Ignatian Faculty Fellows, which operates under the Jesuit Center and trains lay faculty to incorporate Jesuit ideals into their curricula, as an example of how the campaign will augment Loyola’s Jesuit identity.

“This campaign is helping Loyola adjust to a world in which the number of Jesuits has declined – but one in which the number of laypeople interested in our Jesuit character has increased,” Carter says. “The Jesuit Center will help bring our lay colleagues along into the Jesuit vision of education of the whole person, God-centered education, and education in the Catholic tradition. The spirit with which some faculty members are already moving forward in that regard I find very inspiring. Even if they are not Catholic, they see so much value in Jesuit higher education that they are totally committed to furthering it.”

Unprecedented Scholarship Support

The Jesuit Center will do much more than train faculty in Ignatian pedagogy. The new building, which will be a centerpiece of Loyola’s campus, will host all things related to mission and ministry and service at Loyola. It will include an elegant new chapel for worship, and it will serve as an invaluable resource for the campus, local, and regional Catholic communities.

Likewise, the center is far from the only Jesuit initiative the campaign supports.

Loyola’s commitment to its Jesuit roots begins with ensuring qualified students with limited means have access to an excellent education.

“The Jesuit tradition has always been to serve those who are in greatest need,” Carter says. “Loyola can be very proud that an unusually high percentage of our students are individuals who, without a scholarship, could never hope for a college education.”

As the cost of higher education climbs to unprecedented heights, the Faith in the Future campaign aims to offer Loyola students unprecedented scholarship support. It seeks to raise $20 million for need- and merit-based scholarships – a full one-fifth of the total campaign goal.

Derby Gisclair is still a bit of the film buff he was when he organized the Hitchcock festival in his college days. But since 1982 the New Orleans native’s attention has mostly turned toward his work in investment management, most recently as co-founder and CEO of one of the largest independent investment management consulting services and wealth management firms in Louisiana (though he still finds time to write history books about baseball).

Gisclair’s late father, a doctor and the son of an illiterate barber on the West Bank of New Orleans, was the first in his family to attend college. Like Gisclair, he did so on a Loyola scholarship.  

“My dad worked his way through college on a work-study scholarship and his life – and  the life of my family – changed forever,” Gisclair says. “That’s a tremendous debt. When you give a scholarship to a kid who’s the first in his or her family to attend college, you’ve changed that person’s life and for generations after. How can you not get excited about that?”

A Unified Vision for the Future of Loyola

Anne Milling tends to think big. The tireless career-volunteer has worked in the realms of public health, environment, local government, media, poverty, education, and many more in pursuit of her unified vision for a just and prosperous New Orleans. In 1987, with the encouragement of Jesuits at Loyola, particularly the late Father Gerald Fagin, she founded Project Lazarus, a center supported by the Archbishop of New Orleans that houses and empowers people living with HIV and AIDS. Among her many other pursuits, she is also the founder of Women of the Storm, which lobbied to great effect for federal government support in the aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Gulf oil disaster.

Milling’s vision for a prosperous New Orleans includes a flourishing Loyola.

“Loyola plays a critical role in the present and the future of the city,” she says. “This campus has produced so many graduates who form the backbone of small businesses and major corporations in the region – not to mention numerous public servants. Its graduates are ever-present. Loyola prepares students to make this city and the region a better place in which to live.”

To Milling, this campaign amounts to a great opportunity.

“It’s a chance to re-examine the entire campus,” she says, “and it’s an opportunity to upgrade and become more competitive, more cutting-edge in so many areas. This happens in any institution. You need to take a hard look: How can we serve our student body more effectively in the context of the 21st century? How can we meet the needs and expectations of today’s students? I think it’s time.”

A Campaign for Each and Every Student

Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré (ret.) learned to take a holistic view of infrastructure and institutions during his 37 years in the U.S. Army – including his command of Task Force Katrina in 2005, which oversaw the recovery of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He looks to the Faith in the Future campaign to strengthen the university’s infrastructure, both through the large-scale renovation of buildings such as Monroe Hall and the Sports Complex and through support for the Loyola Fund, which covers the unromantic yet crucial costs of building maintenance and upgrades.

“We have an obligation in each generation to leave things better than we found them,” Honroé says. “This campaign will help Loyola redo its infrastructure in a way that is safer, uses less energy, and provides better facilities for students. It’s time for Loyola to take what worked well last century and update it.”

But Honoré’s view of Loyola is not limited to bricks and mortar; after all, his introduction to the university came through his daughter Kimberly. He saw, through her education, the great personal care and attention Loyola faculty, ministry, and staff strived to provide each and every student.

“As my wife and I were headed to Korea, where I was going to command the Second Infantry Division, we passed through New Orleans and dropped Kimberly off at Loyola,” Honoré says. “Never at any time have we regretted that decision. She got a great education with a great group of leaders who challenged her and, in the Jesuit tradition, had her participate in the community as a way to get experiential learning. I just became totally impressed with Loyola. Any way since then I’ve been asked to assist with anything, I have.”

A Campaign to Renew Our Community

As the Faith in the Future campaign moves forward, these five men and women will work diligently to ensure its success. But ultimately, its success will depend not only on their efforts but also – and more important – on the generosity, appreciation, energy, and faith of the entire Loyola community.

As a benefit, this campaign will work to galvanize the people – alumni, friends, family members, parents, and fellow New Orleanians – whose lives Loyola has touched and to help bring them together under the banner of shared experience, shared memories, and shared belief in Jesuit values.

“One of the things that excites me most with this campaign is that we are trying to reach out to so many of our alumni and friends who have lost touch,” Gauthier says. “I feel energized about what the university is doing to recapture the alumni who have kind of gone on and forgotten about each other. I’m thrilled that we are reaching out and stirring up our alumni’s passion. I see that as a far-reaching goal – that we keep in touch, that we work to maintain our bonds and the strength of this wonderful community.