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December 2019

The annual Christmas TV staple Frank Capra’s It's a Wonderful Life is seen as a heartening story about faith. We think of the conclusion with a happy George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) being celebrated by friends and holding his young daughter as she talks about angels getting their wings. Yet in 1946 when it was released, it was a failure at the box office, its mood too dreary in the immediate post-war period. Of course, much of the film is very dark indeed, with George Bailey being given the dubious gift of nonbeing and Bedford Falls turning into a hellish Pottersville.

It is a kind of Divine Comedy in a modern setting, the point of which is to show how lives are intertwined with, and have a lasting impact upon, other lives, and especially how divine providence shapes our paths in ways we can only dimly see — and often only in retrospect. The Advent and Christmas seasons are times for such reflection on the quiet but unmistakable influence of lives upon lives and on the great miracle of the Incarnation of the Word of God. At UD, we are acutely aware of the ways in which so many, both in the past and in the present, make possible the great work that goes on here in Irving in all our schools and colleges and on our Rome campus.

Endowed Scholarships:

Our new Vice President for University Advancement, Jason Wu Trujillo, and I have made endowed scholarships a high priority in our first few months together. I’m pleased to report additional success in this important area.

Mary Ritter, BA ’85, a member of our Board of Trustees, has endowed the Marilyn Walker Endowment for Music and the Eileen Gregory Scholarship in English. I’m grateful to Mary for her leadership, for her guidance, and of course for this most generous gift honoring two iconic faculty members.

An anonymous donor has come forward to endow the Father Placid L. Csizmazia, O.Cist., Memorial Scholarship in Classics. One of my fondest memories of my UD education is taking a Greek course on Homer’s Odyssey with Father Placid. I’m grateful for the role Father Placid played in my UD education and grateful to the anonymous donor for honoring him in this way.

Kurt Daniel, BA ’74, and Debra Daniel, BA ’77, established the Drs. Helen and Leo Paul de Alvarez Scholarship in Politics and the Dr. Frank Doe Scholarship in Biology honoring their former professors.

Many alumni have asked if they can contribute to these or any other scholarships set up by others. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” You can see a list of scholarships on our Endowed Scholarships page and make a gift to any of these. If you’d like more information on how endowed scholarships work, please see the Scholarship FAQs.

The Cor Fund:

By now many of you have no doubt seen the Cor Fund videos on social media and in your email. The Cor Fund provides me with the vital resources I need to help our students and faculty. In this video, Dr. David Andrews, BS ’90, of our Mathematics Department, explains why he and his wife give to the Cor Fund annually and how your gift supports UD faculty.


I’m delighted to report that the Constantin Foundation approved our proposal for a $750,000 grant over three years to support scholarships and programming for first-generation students at UD. In addition, the Rea Charitable Trust approved a grant proposal for $100,000 for operating expenses for the Music Program.

A Look Ahead to 2020/Late Christmas Gift Idea:

Our Rome Program was founded in 1970, which makes 2020 its 50th anniversary. As many of you know, we have a working vineyard on our Rome campus, which produces a small batch of Due Santi wine that is available at select DFW restaurants and online! If you’ve forgotten to get someone a Christmas present, I believe they can deliver by the Feast of the Epiphany. Don't forget to use the promo code CHEERS at checkout!

The President’s Rome Tour

Please join us this May for an Italian adventure that crosses The Eternal City with an optional additional trip to Assisi, known for its magnificent art and basilica, and Siena, a medieval Tuscan treasure. For questions about the tour and to claim your space, please contact Julie Abell, Director of Alumni Relations, Annual Giving and Donor Stewardship, at or 972-265-5743.

In conclusion, I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and thank you again for your prayers and financial support, which together help to secure UD’s flourishing future. Veritatem, Justitiam Diligite.

Thomas Hibbs Signature

Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA ’82 MA ’83