QUINCY -- Quincy University officials are hoping eight is a lucky number.
The university on Wednesday announced it will be striving to raise at least $1 million for the QU Fund for an eighth straight year in 2017-18.
The QU Fund supports scholarships, campus enhancements, technology upgrades and faculty development initiatives. It also boosts the school's endowment program.
Julie Bell, QU vice president of advancement, said QU Fund volunteers raised a little over $1 million last year. She said this was a remarkable achievement considering the university was simultaneously conducting a separate $7 million drive to help QU recover from a financial shortfall that prompted a series of belt-tightening moves. So far, more than $4.2 million in gifts and pledges has been raised for that effort.
"In the midst of this recovery, we cannot lose sight of our QU Fund and the annual support it provides the university," Bell said.
"While we are grateful for the generosity of our alumni, friends and businesses last fiscal year, it is very important that we do not get too comfortable. As we continue to address the university financial recovery, it is imperative that we maintain seven-figure support of the QU Fund to address the university's current greatest needs."
The $1 million goal for 2017-18 was announced during a campaign kickoff event in the QU cafeteria's private dining room.
Kevin and Sheri Reller were introduced as the campaign's co-chairmen. Both are graduates of QU and longtime supporters.
"We're both very grateful that we're able to assist the university in this way," said Kevin Reller, who served as QU's vice president for advancement and has been a volunteer with the QU Fund for many years.
Reller said he knows how vital the QU Fund has been to the university, especially during lean financial times.
"I applaud the university on its success here so far in the recovery efforts, but the annual fund needs to stand on its own and needs to be continued to help fund the holes in the budget," he said.
Phil Conover, who was recently named QU's 23rd president after serving as acting president since May 15, also spoke at Wednesday's ceremony. He congratulated Bell and the advancement team for their "really outstanding" achievement in raising more than $1 million in each of the past seven years.
"We need this annual fund," he said.
Conover said the recovery campaign is also vital for the university's future and has been generating strong support from the community.
"In the past year Quincy University has gone through some traumas -- as everybody in this room knows," he said, noting that the recovery effort "is transcending not only the financial arena, but our whole university. It is an energetic effort, and it is a passionate effort."
The QU Fund drive will run through May. Ray Heilmann, director of campus ministry, said QU faculty and staff will be sent letters urging them to support the fund drive.
"It's not about us," Heilmann said. "It's about our students."