The Rise and Fall of Trinity's Debt

Some of you may know the book “The Great Multimillion Dollar Miracle” authored by Doug Wead. I have heard several accounts of how Trinity’s Ellendale campus was acquired, but I recently read the 1975 version of events that unfolded in the early 70’s under the presidency of the author’s father, Roy Wead. The book is a skillfully told story of how, with God’s help, we can see audacious aspirations realized. 

The Ellendale campus was acquired for $1. One dollar in 1972 has the equivalent purchasing power of $6.20 today. Twelve ounces of Starbucks Medium Roast Pike Place ground coffee currently costs $7.45. We paid less than a bag of coffee for a campus worth millions of dollars.

The college may have carried some historical debt with it into the Ellendale years, but by 2016 we were spending the same amount on debt interest as it cost to fund five of our core academic departments! The growing debt trend cast a shadow over the potential of a college experiencing reinvigoration on so many levels.

In May 2017, the President’s Council met in a conference room at the Comfort Inn, Hill City, SD. At the conclusion of some inspired conversation, a financial appeal was made. Some might argue that taking up an offering is not where you expect to experience the manifestation of the Spirit. However, the sense of God’s presence in the room was awe inspiring and in those moments, a miracle took place. A gift of $1 million was given towards a campus project with a pledge to give future amounts towards debt reduction!

That miraculous moment has become another Multimillion Dollar Miracle in the succeeding years as the donor replicated the gift on an annual basis. Our institutional debt in 2020 is showing a reduction of 47.8% over four years! The mortgage interest expense has more than halved. If we continue our progress and pay off the mortgage, we would save more every year than it costs to staff and supply our cafeteria for the year. 

Finally, I would like to thank those staff and faculty who have adhered to rigorous budget limitations to arrest operational debt creep and ensure that we retain the gains achieved in our long term debt reduction.

Ian O'Brian

September 9, 2020

Ian O'Brian

Executive Vice President

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