Founded in 1844 to teach “the divine art and science of doing good to others,” the focus of The University of Olivet has remained unchanged over the past 174 years. As the private, liberal arts institution approaches its terquasquicentennial in 2019, the mission to intellectually, morally and spiritually enrich the lives of the diverse campus community is still intact and is embodied by the current leaders of The University of Olivet, Steven and Traci Corey.
When The University of Olivet embarked on its historic campaign in 2017, Responsible Learners – Responsible Leaders: The University of Olivet 2020 and Beyond, designed to reinvigorate and cultivate the nature of the college by raising $44 million, The University of Olivet President Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., and Presidential Spouse Traci Corey understood that to ask the community to invest faith in such an ambitious undertaking required the couple to position themselves at the front line of the charge and lead by example.
“Traci and I knew that if we were going to personally ask others to make a major investment, then we should too, and first,” said Steven. “We knew that we needed to give … and do something long-term and sustaining with a larger estate gift to the college’s endowment.”
“This has been our largest contribution to date, and we have a daughter earning her college education,” said Traci Corey, who also heads the Women’s Leadership Institute at The University of Olivet. “So, it has stretched us, but how can we ask others to give to their fullest capacity without doing the same?”
As natives of California, neither Steven nor Traci were educated at the college they now dutifully serve; however, their commitment as foundational donors and shining devotion to the institution can rival even the most loyal alumni.
“Olivet, for us, mirrors so many of our values. It meshes with our values like a glove, and it’s important that we lead from the front to bring this amazing college into the future,” said Traci.
While the donor campaign to sustain and improve the on-campus experience for the student body has already met 85 percent of its goal, the Coreys also place strong emphasis on another elemental tenet of The University of Olivet: The concept of philanthropy breaching the borders of monetary intention and action.
“What we recognize is … we can give of our time through volunteerism, our talents by sharing our expertise and wisdom, and our treasure as well,” said Steven. “The University of Olivet is blessed with a community of people who care enough about our mission and future to give in each of these ways.”
Because The University of Olivet stresses responsibility to the greater community by providing its students service learning opportunities, the Coreys are provided the privilege of witnessing firsthand how the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow exemplify the spirit and importance of volunteerism.
“I think this generation – this iPhone and overall millennial generation – they are all about giving back. I see it every day, from the campus community to young leaders mentoring other youth through programming like the Women’s Leadership Institute,” said Traci. “Many young women who went through the year-long leadership program helped facilitate the high school leadership camp we just had. They see their impact.”
Even when it comes to the historic campaign, students are taking an active and involved role. They’re invested and excited about the possibilities moving forward, particularly when it comes to updating academic and athletic facilities that cultivate student learning.
“With now over 80 percent of our students living on campus, supporting an active, vibrant and engaging campus life is essential to a quality experience for them and to our success as a college,” said Steven. “The new student center we have planned is the centerpiece to achieving this goal.”
Whether faculty, staff, student or alumni, Steven and Traci Corey are optimistic their message of giving fully of yourself to areas of interest and passion will bring about positive outcomes. As the The University of Olivet community strives toward improving the student experience and advancing Olivet forward, the future of the school is set on 2020 and beyond.
“We think it’s important that everyone that this college touches gives back in their own way so that we can ensure Olivet is here to touch the lives of more learners. The market today is tough, and we need to give students the opportunities and qualities they are looking for,” said Traci. “The legacy of Olivet, at its core, is the importance of relationships. Let’s carry and prove that aspect for decades to come.”