SJU Fund Creates New Opportunities for Initiatives, Revenue

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A new program at Saint Joseph's is seeking ways to create and reward incentive through the development of innovative new initiatives and programs. The Saint Joseph's University Opportunity Fund was formally announced by University President Timothy R. Lannon, S.J., at the President's Convocation on Sept. 23, but according to Paul DeVito, associate provost and chair of the Opportunity Fund, the idea has been in the works for over a year.

According to the guidelines of the Opportunity Fund, its goal is to be a "source of funding to encourage program development that results in new, innovative, revenue-generating programs for the University." Fr. Lannon said that the program will be initially funded at $250,000. The idea was sparked by Fr. Lannon, though opportunity funds are not unique to Saint Joseph's.

"Many Jesuit schools have funds of this nature," DeVito said. "Fr. Lannon came to Saint Joseph's from Marquette University, so we looked at their program and the programs at other Jesuit institutions."

After first introducing the possibility of an Opportunity Fund at the fall 2007 President's Convocation, Fr. Lannon chartered a committee of both administrators and faculty to design and create the fund's guidelines. A new committee was created shortly thereafter to oversee the distribution of funds.

The goal of the Opportunity Fund is multifaceted, according to DeVito. "Part of it is to create new programs not currently available at Saint Joseph's as well as to generate new sources of revenue to fund additional new initiatives all within the mission of the University," he said.

Another goal of the fund is to reduce the burden of funding future projects within the limits of the university budget in order to better support the needs of students, faculty and staff. The additional revenue would help to manage the University's overall costs, especially leading-edge innovative projects that may not be presently feasible, according to DeVito.

"In many budgetary situations, you're always slicing the pie thinner," DeVito explained. "In this model, we're hoping to make the pie larger."

All of the revenue created by the Opportunity Fund will not be limited to future University projects, however. DeVito explained that there will be a sharing of the revenue generated by each project. To that end, the surplus revenue will be split four ways—the creator of the project, the department and college from which the project came, and the Opportunity Fund itself will receive a portion of the proceeds.

While no proposals have been formally submitted, DeVito said that he knows of several that are in the works.

Applications are due Nov. 1. At that time, the committee will review the proposals and distribute the funds. Additional proposals are due by March 1 and July 1 of 2009.

--Maureen Catalano '09

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