The smallest ripple in the calm ocean creating bigger waves ashore. The slightest flutter of the butterfly’s wings in one place causing a hurricane on the other side of the world. These ar e the philosophies of chaos theory—a science of surprises that is unpredictable and ultimately immeasurable in its full scope. But what is always certain is the inevitability of creating bigger impact and lasting change.
As any Explorer will tell you—alumni, faculty, staff, and Christian Brothers alike—La Salle University’s impact is much greater than the degree students earn. It’s the Lasallian mission that makes the University truly unique and each Explorer is part of a complex and inspiring conglomerate that creates an often silent but powerful impact, locally and globally. It’s the right of education for all. The economic benefits shared. The acts of kindness and generosity. The spiritual enlightenment. The fight for social justice. This is the legacy La Salle leaves on this world, and yet far too few seem to know it. The question is why?
“It’s a story that we have to get better at telling,” says Brother Ernest Miller, FSC, D.Min, M.A.’95, Vice President for Mission.
In order to do that, La Salle decided to measure some of this impact on a regional scale. Earlier this year, Econsult Solutions created a report based on data collected from the counties of Philadelphia, Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester. Although numbers can only tell a fraction of the story, this report paints a fascinating picture of La Salle’s impact academically, spiritually, and socially. It’s important to note that being a private institution, the Universitydoes not receive any ongoing financial support from the City of Philadelphia nor the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And yet, true to the mission of St. John Baptist de La Salle, the University gives back enormously and plays an important role in educating local residents while also drawing in new students, faculty, and researchers.
“La Salle University differentiates itself…as an entity that is truly committed to each student and to transforming the whole person for the purpose of positively impacting their community.”
–THE EDUCATIONAL, ECONOMIC, AND SOCIAL IMPACTS OF LA SALLE UNIVERSITY REPORT, 2017
The economic impact La Salle has on Philadelphia and Pennsylvania is staggering. According to the 2017 “In Service to the City and Society: The Educational, Economic, and Social Impact of La Salle University”
report, it is estimated that La Salle has produced a $1.5 billion impact within the City economy and a nearly $2.8 billion impact within the state economy over the past five years alone. That has resulted in $35 million in tax revenues to Philadelphia along with an additional $173 million in tax revenue for Pennsylvania.
The report cites one of La Salle’s most direct economic contributions is its annual operations, which stands at a cost of about $129 million over the last five years. This includes more than 3,700 full-time jobs supported by the University. La Salle is also a major purchaser of goods and services in the region, which in turn generates local economic activity. The University also attracts new spending in the region through non-local visitors, initiates long-term capital investments on campus which provides economic benefits to the construction industry. La Salle also brings in and retains talented graduates, helping to increase the capital and household spending in the area.
“It’s what Philadelphia has identified as the creative economy,” says Joe Meade, La Salle’s Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Government and Community Affairs. “Students get their education here but then stay… We’re attracting students from outside of the area. If we’re able to get them here, get them to support the local economy, and then graduate and stay here to live for a few years, that’s a win-win for the University and for the government and the surrounding community.”
Economics are important, but education for all is now and always at the forefront of La Salle’s mission. In 2016, the University took a bold step by recognizing the growing trend of national tuition inflation and reduced undergraduate rates by 29 percent, from $40,400 to $28,800—back to what students were paying in 2008. A year later, it’s clear that decision is being positively received by students eager for a quality education without being buried under a mountain of debt.
“La Salle cutting tuition was a big part of my decision [to come here],” says freshman Harry Scanlon. “I can put myself in a good position for the future and come out with hardly any debt.”
For the students who might not otherwise have been able to attend La Salle, it could very well make all the difference. Thirty-three percent of La Salle students are first generation college students and 37 percent of students are from the bottom 60 percent of household incomes. Compare those statistics with a 2017 report from The New York Times which ranks La Salle in the top six percent nationally for students reaching median income by the age of 34.
La Salle is even rethinking the entry process of college in this 21st century climate. “We just signed a memoranda of understanding with the School District of Philadelphia for a dual credit program [with Philadelphia High School for Girls and Central High School],” says Meade. “So, in short, if you were a senior at Girls High, you would be able to have credits that qualify for your first year here as a student.
Service is the heart of La Salle—helping those in their time of need. Explorers work tirelessly through University programs to give back to the community through service programs. Students travel abroad during their own free time like spring break to places like Kenya, Haiti, and Honduras to provide health and wellness education along with community and home revitalization and rebuilds.
But La Salle’s mission of service goes much deeper than clocked hours. The University is also committed to social justice—uncovering the root cause of systemic issues and helping to resolve them to create a better community for everyone. University Ministry and Service works to ideate and execute programs and services that not only provide invaluable services for the community, but also broaden the understanding and perspectives of the volunteers involved.
“We’re trying to bring a fresh presence and approach,” says Meade. For example, at the James Logan Elementary School, La Salle has a dedicated room in which faculty and staff volunteer to provide teachers with professional development and students with tutoring and after-school services.
“We also offer sports clinics [at Logan],” Meade continues, “where we provide an athletic experience, various games that these students wouldn’t normally be accustomed to. Golf, tennis, lacrosse…” These aren’t just ways of giving back, they’re also methods of bridging the gap between primary and secondary schools to La Salle, ushering in a new wave of Explorers who can keep the Lasallian legacy alive for future generations.
Community and Global Impact
- The Neighborhood Nursing Center has offered education and health services for at-risk families in the community since 1992.
- La Salle provides leadership training, tutoring, academic, and sports services to local schools including Philadelphia High School for Girls, Central High School, James Logan Elementary School, and Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School.
- La Salle students work with Pheed Philadelphia soup kitchen to help fight hunger.
- La Salle provides neighborhood revitalization through The Shoppes at La Salle, the acquisition and rehabilitation of local properties, and the offering of Germantown Hospital’s previous facilities for physicians and clinics.
- The La Salle Autism and Developmental Disabilities Education Resources (LADDER) Center offer educational, community outreach, and clinical services for families and children dealing with autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities.
- Volunteers visit the residents of Calcutta House to assist in AIDS outreach initiatives.
- Explorers volunteer for the community service group Neighbor to Neighbor to perform light work projects for those who are elderly or handicapped.
- Students engage in home and community revitalization and rehabilitation through programs like LIVE.
IMPACT AT A GLANCE
LA SALLE’S ECONOMIC IMPACT IN PENNSYLVANIA, 2012-2016
TAX REVENUES GENERATED BY LA SALLE IN PENNSYLVANIA, 2012-2016
ALUMNI EMPLOYED IN PENNSYLVANIA
VISITORS LA SALLE ATTRACTED, 2012-2016
LA SALLE’S ECONOMIC IMPACT IN PHILADELPHIA, 2012-2016
TAX REVENUES GENERATED BY LA SALLE IN PHILADELPHIA, 2012-2016
AMOUNT ALUMNI IN PENNSYLVANIA EARN ANNUALLY WITH THEIR DEGREE
IN NEW VISITOR SPENDING
SPENT BY LA SALLE WITH PENNSYLVANIA-BASED BUSINESSES
FIRST GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS
STUDENTS WHO ADVANCE FROM THE BOTTOM 60% OF HOUSEHOLD INCOME