Holy Cross Priorities: Balancing The Checkbook

Olivia Pan ‘20
Chief Opinions Editor

I think it’s safe to say that Holy Cross is a college which places heavy emphasis on athletics. Last year, the college celebrated the opening of the new $95 million expanded Hart Center at Luth Athletic Complex. According to Worcester Business Journal, “The facility includes an indoor football field that can be used for all sports, a gym for basketball and volleyball, a 9,500-square-foot strength and conditioning center, and a 3,000-square-foot space for sports medicine.” Holy Cross also reports that, besides various other alumni donations, they received a “$32.5 million lead commitment from John Luth ’74 and Joanne Chouinard-Luth, D.M.D.,” making this gift the “largest in College of the Holy Cross history.” 

Now, I am not in any way discounting the vast contributions athletes make to this college. I know that student athletes work insanely hard and put in long hours, having to divide their time between sports, studies, and extra-curriculars.  I am not saying they are undeserving of a state-of-the art athletic complex. However, considering the fact that our own Dinand Library, home to priceless collections of valuable books, does not even have basic air conditioning installed, (allowing for the decomposition of said collections), this athletic center is a bit of a head-scratcher. In addition, going to basic quality of life on campus, the fact that many of the dorms do not even have safe and working elevators, I must ask: Does Holy Cross have their priorities straight? And by priorities, I mean both academically and residentially speaking. Or, are they simply placing athletics at the top of their list? 

Let’s be brutally clinical about dollars. $95 million is an absurd amount of money for anything, especially when you consider the endless list of ways in which that money could have been spent. You have to question what the values are here at Holy Cross. These alums who claim to care so much about Holy Cross students could have used their donations to help provide scholarships for lower income and international students, or help fund internship opportunities for students during their summer break. But instead, we chose to build a $95 million athletic center, whose function tends to exclude a major portion of the student population. 

We also must consider the fact that we recently transitioned from a need-blind admissions process to a need-aware process, meaning that we are now factoring in one’s ability to pay for Holy Cross into acceptance decisions. Many students who may have previously been able to attend based on the need-blind process would now be unable to do so. Alumni donations and contributions towards creating scholarships for financially challenged students are more necessary now than ever before. So, maybe that is where some of our money should be apportioned.

Athletics and all they bring to college life are important, but when we neglect academic and residential areas of interest in favor of sports, we are doing a disservice to the students on our campus.

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3 replies »

  1. Ms. Olivia Pan –

    As your recent article touches on the finances of the College, perhaps you might be interested in doing a little further investigation into that subject, including the salaries of its President and other officers. If you are of an investigative turn, here is how to proceed: every tax exempt institution in the US is required to file annually with the IRS a Form 990, “Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax,” and to make a copy of that form available to the public. The form would be held in the College Treasurer’s Office. Simply walk in and ask for a copy; it will disclose a plethora of interesting information.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I walked around campus on Alumni weekend, I was amazed to see the amount of construction on our “Green” Campus. It is exciting to see these prestigious projects, but anyone who thinks they are green or will not raise the operating cost of the college is delusional.

    It is time for Holy Cross to take the lead in bringing some austerity to the price of education; not just for scholarship students (although I wholeheartedly agree they should be the focus), but for all. For example: A Wellness Center is a wonderful addition, but is it necessary (Especially with all the exercise one gets just navigating Mt. St. James)?

    Oh, along with Dinand, a nice AC system in the lower chapel would be welcome. You will appreciate that as a middle-aged alum returning in mid-June.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not as simple as thinking HC decides what it needs $90Million for and then goes searching for donors. It’s often the other way around. I.e., a donor says he/she wants to donate tens of millions of dollars AND designates how the money is to be spent. At that point, HC is in a tough position. If it doesn’t like the use that the donor designates, does it walk away from tens of millions of dollars?


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