Two years ago Biola’s “Conviction and Courage Gala” in downtown Los Angeles set the record for the most money donated to the school at a single fundraising event: $3.9 million. That record was broken this past April when, at an intimate weekend gathering of supporters in Laguna Beach, $4.2 million in gifts and pledges was raised.
The event was called “Weekend with the President” and drew around 80 newer friends and longtime supporters of Biola. Attendees heard from President Barry H. Corey, faculty members, students, alumni and members of the Board of Trustees at various points in the weekend.
The program theme was “Higher Ground” and focused on Biola University’s vision for staying faithful in conviction, courage and compassion as a Christ-centered university, opting not to isolate or to capitulate, but to engage and serve.
“Faced with the challenges of a changing culture, some universities choose to withdraw — and become irrelevant,” Corey said at the event. “Some concede their principles and bow to dominant cultural trends. But Biola is not settling for the middle ground. Rather, we’re looking for a higher ground.”
The event focused on three university priorities: student scholarships, the Center for Marriage and Relationships (CMR), and the Alton and Lydia Lim Center for Science, Technology and Health, which is set to open for classes in early 2018. Supporters responded to each of these needs, giving $850,000 for scholarships, $400,000 for the CMR, $2.2 million for the science building, and the balance of funds to support the core mission of Biola.
“We are blown away by the generosity of these friends and supporters,” said Adam Morris, vice president of advancement. “Their investment in Biola at this critical juncture is significant. Because of them we are on track to open our science building on time, provide new student scholarships and continue the important ministry of the Center for Marriage and Relationships.”
One of the highlights of the weekend was a keynote address from New York Times columnist and author David Brooks, who spoke about the way Christian colleges like Biola can teach the “whole person” and provide a sense of telos that is rarely found on secular campuses.
Brooks said educating young people in things like relationships, commitments and moral longing “is very hard to do if you’re not really focused on it,” and he lamented that most universities today don’t even attempt to educate the whole human being. But schools like Biola do.
Earlier in the day, Brooks spent a few hours on Biola’s campus, engaging in conversation with a group of Torrey Honors students. He said he spends a lot of time with students on college campuses, but the conversation he had with Biola students “will go down in my memory as one of the great conversations I’ve had.”