University president to donate portion of salary to fight poverty

DePaul University President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider recently joined “The Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty” along with 27 other current and former college presidents, promising to donate 5 percent of his salary to fighting poverty.
“There are so many people that go to bed hungry,” Father Holtschneider said. “Just a few dollars and they could have clean water. It’s amazing what simple philanthropy can do.”
The pledge, founded by former Texas Lutheran University president Ann M. Svennungsen, aims to bring public awareness to the poverty problem, and that ending poverty in is within reach.
According to, “The Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations determine that, with collective resolve and investment, we can cut severe poverty in half by 2015.”
As Board Chair of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities from January 2010 to January 2012, Father Holtschneider was approached by Svennungsen to help get her movement started.
“She asked me, and I said yes” Father Holtschneider said. “It was really that simple.”
The mission, according to Father Holtschneider, is to expand the movement to as many university presidents as possible. By making the pledge publicly, hope is that others will be inspired to give more as well.
“They want to raise the level of the country’s giving” Father Holtschneider said of the founders of the Pledge.
“Each president who participates in The Presidents’ Pledge makes this commitment as a tangible way to serve the public good, to inspire greater giving and resolve, and to spark action that alleviates global poverty” says.
Those who make the pledge have chosen the charities they wish to make their donations to, but they must be fighting poverty in some way.
Though he has taken this pledge, Father Holtschneider’s contribution won’t compare to many others.
“Truth is I’m a Vincentian priest, I took a vow of poverty,” Father Holtschneider said. “My university salary is already donated. This is 5% of what I have.”
As a Vincentian priest, Father Holtschneider’s university salary is already donated to charity.
Father Holtschneider’s role as a university president positions him as the ultimate role model for students, but that’s not why he made this commitment. DePaul students, he said, do a great job of giving back.
“The volunteering here blows other universities away,” Father Holtschneider said.
Even if Father Holtschneider did not intend on inspiring students, his pledge has.
Kelly Lynch, 19, is a psychology major and a community service studies and Spanish minor, and she is proud Father Holtschneider has taken this pledge. “From what I understand, the goal of The Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty is not only to raise money for organizations that fight poverty, but to bring awareness to the fact that we have the capability to end extreme poverty. This seems like an amazing opportunity for presidents and universities to get involved in” Lynch said.
Lynch is also working to fight poverty as a Student Advocate/co-Volunteer Manager of LIFT, an organization whose mission is to combat poverty in the United States.
“I think it’s a good first step,” Alison Victor, 31, receiving her master’s in PRAD said.
“You have to lead by example, and I think that’s what he’s doing. During a time like now, there’s a lot of corporate greed, and to see that there are still people that are willing to personally make it their mission to make a difference, I think it’s good,” Victor said.