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Donor offers $100,000 match to struggling Crossroads College

With its survival hanging in the balance, Crossroads College in Rochester has received an $100,000 matching gift from a first-time anonymous donor even as the small Bible college launches an effort to...

A sign at Crossroads College in Rochester.

With its survival hanging in the balance, Crossroads College in Rochester has received an $100,000 matching gift from a first-time anonymous donor even as the small Bible college launches an effort to win back its accreditation, the college president said.

Crossroads President Mike Kilgallin called the financial gift a "game-changer" for the college that only last month was told its accreditation had been revoked because of weak finances. College leaders are in the midst of an aggressive push to raise $250,000 to shore up the college's balance sheet in an effort to regain accreditation.

Kilgallin has expressed confidence the decision to withdraw the college's accreditation will be reversed but also has acknowledged the 100-year-old institution would be in danger of closing if it is not.

"This week is crunch week. That's why I'm saying this is a game-changer for us," said Kilgallin, adding that, in his five years as president, the 135-student college has never received a six-figure donation. "That's a huge, benevolent gift that's come to Crossroads. We don't see many gifts like that in this place."

Anonymous gift


By making it a matching gift, the donor, whom Kilgallin said he was not at liberty to identify, was hoping to inspire donations from other people and groups, promising to match dollar for dollar up to $100,000 the gifts that come from other sources.

The development comes less than a week after the Post-Bulletin reported the small tree-lined college in southwest Rochester was fighting to survive and reclaim the accrediting agency's stamp of approval. Without accreditation, Crossroads students would not qualify for federal financial aid, which the vast majority of its students need to be able to afford to go there.

Kilgallin said that, soon afterward, he received a call from the donor, who asked to stop by his office. Kilgallin said the donor has an abiding interest in Christian higher education but had never donated to Crossroads nor had ever been asked to give. On Monday, during a meeting in the president's office, he offered the $100,000 matching gift.

"I mean, it's incredible news, especially if people step up to the plate," he said.

Kilgallin said the college already has collected $131,000, so the matching donation gives the college the potential to raise at least $330,000, an amount that would be well north of the college's goal of $250,000.

While the gift has galvanized college officials, Kilgallin also was cautious in assessing its effect on the school's fortunes.

"That's a hard question to answer quite frankly, because I don't know if anything we do, if ABHE (Association for Biblical Higher Education) will change their mind," the president said. "I can't make promises someone else has to keep."

Accreditation review


The college is asking the ABHE commission to review and overturn its decision based on what Crossroads will say is its improved financial condition. Yet, it also finds itself in a relatively tight window for raising the remaining money it needs to put itself on a firmer financial footing.

Crossroads has until March 25 to request a review. The ABHE's bylaws allow for 10 days for information provided by Crossroads to be delivered to the commission, which then can take up to 30 days to make a decision. If the commission upholds its original decision, the college can appeal to an independent board.

Never a resource-rich college, Crossroads has fallen on hard economic times lately as result of decisions and investments that didn't pan out. Six years ago, the college sought to spur growth in student enrollment by investing in a new student center and more student housing. But the ambitious growth in students for which the college planned never materialized. Two years later, Crossroads' finances took another hit when the country entered an economic downturn.

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