By Callie Ewing, BA ’03 MH ’22
When Trustee Jean (Daudelin) and Marty White, both BA ’86, considered how the resources of their classmates and themselves might best be put to use at the University of Dallas, they approached the problem as parents.
“Between COVID and everything else happening in the world, the level of stress and discomfort is really tough for college students,” said Marty White. “As parents, like many in the Class of 1986 are, we’re really kind of front and center in seeing that there need to be more resources for mental health.”
Jean White added, “As parents, you want your children to have resources. With COVID, much had to be focused on physical health, but now we need to look at how to also enrich spiritual and mental health.”
With this need in mind, the Whites began collaborating with UD’s 10th president, Jonathan J. Sanford, shortly after he assumed the presidency a little over a year ago. As they worked together, the idea of the One Body, One Spirit Endowment was born, with the ultimate goal of providing more resources to assist students with both physical and mental health needs. This endowment would provide for all students to have access to health services that embrace the mission of the university and also serve as a learning lab for both undergraduate and graduate students in the physical and health sciences as well as in counseling and psychology.
"I am tremendously grateful to Jean and Marty White for their generosity in promoting one of the fundamental pillars of our approach to education: the education of the whole person,” said Sanford. “They recognize that we only flourish when we integrate the intellectual with the moral and theological virtues, and their generosity enables us to promote that integration more effectively in our students."
In honor of their class’s 35th reunion last fall, the Whites reached out to their classmates to tell them of their initial $35,000 investment and offer $70,000 in matching funds to incentivize others in the class to join them in the initiative, which many are doing. For the Whites, this is one of the unique and important qualities of the University of Dallas: the lasting friendships that still serve as great sources of support three and a half decades later.
The Whites also feel that the opportunities they were given through their families and the financial aid and other resources provided by UD – their education not the least of these – are what enabled them to give back in this way to the institution and community that helped form them.
“Our educational background – what we learned at UD about embracing new ideas, how to constantly learn, not having only one skill set – allowed us to have a life of learning,” said Jean.
She says that UD’s emphasis on lifelong learning is about the whole person, not just intellectual or technical skills. “All of this contributes to the ability to be successful in life. UD embraces all those pieces – body, spirit, intellect – and I do think that’s unique,” she added. “A lot of schools might say they do this, but UD puts it into practice.”
This embrace of the whole person, of course, circles back around to the One Body, One Spirit campaign and its purpose of providing support for the whole person. This integrated focus on overall health is more essential now than ever, with mental health continuing to present a concern all across the country – particularly among college-age adults, who are dealing with the stress of transition in tandem with other challenges, such as a global pandemic and extreme political polarization and unrest, that previous generations did not face in quite the same way.
“As a consultant, I rely a lot on data and science,” said Jean. “There is an increase in students who say they’re facing crises, not just at UD but everywhere. Another thing that research tells you is that this impacts retention. It’s not only a benefit to the individual student but a benefit to the community; all students benefit from having a healthy community. ”
To their classmates, the Whites want to emphasize that the challenges they faced as college students in the 1980s seem to have been very different from what students are facing today. “These students are facing a lot more to achieve success,” said Marty. “We had other needs, and those needs were met. The UD community helped us. This is our opportunity to give back.”
The Whites’ classmate Raymond Heipp, Ph.D., BA ’86, said, “When we gather together as classmates, we speak of what UD meant to us. It was a place where we were given both guidance and knowledge to live our lives to the fullest in support of all life. Having proper supports on campus is one way to help our students receive that same guidance and knowledge that we did, so that they too can be successful in their future worlds.”
The Whites very much appreciate those classmates, like Heipp, who have already given. Heipp explained, “The One Body, One Spirit Endowment stood out to me unlike any other because of the issues we are facing globally after the pandemic. Issues surrounding mental health are immense in both number and depth. This endowment focuses on those wellness needs of the students – both supplying them with the support that they might need now as well as the skills they might need to address any stressors or anxiety throughout the rest of their lives.”
Classmate Monique Bimler, BA ’86 MBA '91, added, “When Jean and Marty told me of their concept of the One Body One Spirit Endowment, I thought about the impact this campaign could have on the lives of students. The University of Dallas had always been a generous community; however, I didn't remember a specific focus on the mental health and well-being of the students.
“The world is more complex than when I was in college, and this focus on the whole body and spirit is needed to help students navigate the challenges they face today, which are significant, and things we could not even fathom when we were young. I find myself trying to explain things to my school age children, trying to calm their fears and anxiety to help them be strong in body and spirit. It feels daunting and reminds me how great the need for mental health services is today.
“The One Body, One Spirit Endowment is a way to serve those needs, I am honored to be a part of its inception and encourage others to consider being a part of One Body, One Spirit. I truly believe we will make a difference."
For their class, the Whites want this endowment to be a community effort to which they can all contribute together and make a difference for students at UD, but one does not have to be a member of the Class of 1986 in order to give to the campaign. Mostly, the Whites just want people to keep giving. “We want the impact to go beyond one student and create a broader opportunity,” said Jean. “The happiness factor can raise the whole campus.”
To learn more about contributing to this endowment or ways you can impact the lives of UD students, please contact Associate Director of Development Veronica Moreno at 972-265-5846 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go directly here, select "Other" from the dropdown menu and type "One Body, One Spirit" to designate your gift.