$13.7 million gift clears most of Catawba College’s debt

Published 2:32 pm Friday, June 4, 2021

SALISBURY — An anonymous donation has cleared 75% of Catawba College’s debt.

Announcing the donation Friday, the college said the $13.7 million contribution will put the college’s annual debt service below 2% of expenses.

The amount of debt a college holds, along with its endowment, are critical markers of financial health. Catawba said debt topping 10% of expenses is one factor that puts colleges at risk of closing, particularly with increased competition and declining enrollment nationally.

“We can’t fully express how grateful we are to receive this unprecedented gift,” said Catawba Vice President of Development Meg Dees. “It allows us to create even greater opportunities for thousands of students in the years ahead by accelerating our strategic goals and providing lasting financial stability and flexibility while we continue to transform our campus. This gift increases our capacity to shape the future.”

The gift was made outside of the college’s current Mind Body Soul fundraising campaign, which focuses on improving facilities and establishing new programs both in and out of the classroom. The philanthropic support of alumni, parents, students and friends of the college during the recently completed fiscal year exceeded $43.4 million.

Catawba President David Nelson said the gift is a historic moment for the college.

“This extraordinary gift alters the future of Catawba College,” Nelson said. “Positioning us for financial sustainability that enables us to better provide access and opportunity for students who seek a college experience focused on personal formation as they prepare for meaningful life and work. We are extremely thankful for the donor’s faith in our mission.”