Marian University receives lead gift from president of Weaver Popcorn

by Mark Apple | Apr 14, 2016

Weaver renderingIndianapolis – Marian University (, Indianapolis’ only Catholic institution of higher education, announced at a press conference this afternoon that Mike Weaver, president of Weaver Popcorn, has pledged a major lead gift toward a project that includes construction of new facilities for student life, learning and leadership development. The amount of Weaver’s gift was undisclosed at his request but, along with gifts from Browning Investments and several other individuals, gives the university $15 million toward the $30 million it needs to raise for the project.

Marian University President Daniel J. Elsener announced that the $30 million, which is expected to be raised over the next 2-3 years, will be used to construct several new facilities including a dining hall, recreational facilities for intramural sports and fitness, classrooms, meeting spaces, a new weight room, and more. Elsener said the facilities are needed to accommodate Marian University’s tremendous student enrollment growth over the past ten years, as well as future enrollment growth which is expected to double by 2025. Marian University was ranked 16th in the nation for increased enrollment among private baccalaureate institutions from 2002-2012 by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Thanks to Mike and Becky Weaver’s incredible leadership, we are well on the way to raising the $30 million needed to make campus improvements that will attract and retain some of the nation’s next generation of leaders,” Elsener said. “Without funding, we simply can’t achieve our mission of developing transformational leaders for service to the world. This is more than a gift to Marian University; it’s an investment in the future leadership of our community.”

Marian University recently completed a strategic planning process that resulted in a mission and vision that will guide the university through 2025. The new strategic plan includes five power goals that focus on Enrollment, Mission and Identity, Academic Quality, Leadership, and Expansion of Resources. Elsener said the successful completion of the $30 million project is critical to achieving each of the university’s five power goals.

The press conference was held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the university was set to host its annual Clayton Family Circle of Honor and M-Club Wall of Fame induction dinner. Former college football coach and current ESPN analyst Lou Holtz, who was to be inducted into the university’s Clayton Family Circle of Honor during the dinner, joined Elsener, Weaver and Marian University director of athletics Steve Downing in making the announcement. The dinner serves as the primary fundraiser for Marian University’s athletics programs.

Marian University has achieved unparalleled success in athletics over the past five years. During this academic year alone, the university has captured NAIA national championships in football and women’s basketball. The cycling program, which has won 33 national championships in its history, currently has three student-athletes competing for spots on the United States Olympic Team which will compete in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

Marian University’s student-athletes are also successful in the classroom. The average grade point average (GPA) for student-athletes is 3.04, which is slightly higher than the 3.02 average GPA for the rest of the student body. In 2015, 15 of the university’s 22 athletic teams had an average GPA of 3.0 or higher, earning them NAIA Scholar Team status. Marian University also placed 43 student-athletes on the NAIA Scholar Athlete list (juniors with 3.5 GPA or higher) and had one Capital One Academic All-American.


About Marian University Indianapolis
Marian University (, founded in Indianapolis in 1937, is the only Catholic liberal arts university in central Indiana. It serves a student body of nearly 3,000 through dedication to excellent teaching and learning in the Franciscan and liberal arts traditions. Marian University is one of Indiana’s 31 independent colleges and one of 244 Catholic colleges and universities nationwide.

Since 2001, Marian University has been led by President Daniel J. Elsener, whose vision and leadership are transforming the university. In 2013, Marian University opened the Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences, home to its College of Osteopathic Medicine. Marian University has amassed 33 national championships in cycling, captured the NAIA Football National Championship in 2012 and 2015, and won the NAIA Women’s Basketball Championship in 2016.

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