Our Founding Idea
A 21st Century Catholic University Designed for Impact

Derry Connolly

Founding President

Dear Friends,

You may not know the story of the founding of John Paul the Great Catholic University (JPCatholic), and the key idea underpinning it.

On November 2, 2000, while visiting Franciscan University of Steubenville, I experienced something profound: A campus full of young Catholics on-fire for Jesus and living a dynamically orthodox faith. As I prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Portiuncula chapel later that evening–

The Lord put on my heart a call to build a dynamic and orthodox Catholic university.

The scale and cost of the undertaking made me dismiss the Lord’s call. In September 2003, after much prayer and a personal encounter with Jesus, I finally said “yes” and began the process of being God’s hands in the building of JPCatholic.

During that time of discernment, as Pope John Paul the Great’s pontificate was drawing to a close, there was an explosive growth in internet video, created by Google and YouTube. Anticipating a radical transformation of the media and entertainment industry, I saw an unprecedented opportunity to respond to St. John Paul the Great’s urgent call for a new evangelization. The visionary pope had called the Catholic faithful to adopt radically new techniques in communicating the Gospel to our culture. In response, I, along with a group of co-founders, set out to build a novel 21st-century entrepreneurial Catholic university designed for impact, sitting at the center of a Catholic and Christian media industry cluster.

JPCatholic graduates offer a generous response to Christ’s missionary call.

Our mission is to Impact Culture for Christ by forming students as creators, innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs at the intersection of Creative Arts, Business, and the Humanities, guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ as preserved by His Catholic Church. What began with 30 freshmen in the Fall of 2006 is now a truly credible 21st-century forward-looking Catholic university designed to Impact Culture for Christ.

Our JPCatholic History

With an extraordinarily generous $50,000 gift and God’s help in 2005, we walked forward in faith to launch JPCatholic.

The Catholic University for
Creative Arts & Business Innovation

Our institutional strength comes from our laser focus on our Core Mission and Founding Vision to Impact Culture for Christ.

Our world is in desperate need of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Our academic programs form students for creative, intellectual, and entrepreneurial excellence to rise to this challenge.

Our compelling and innovative programs include BS degrees in Communications Media and Business and a BA in the Humanities, with sixteen areas of emphasis and eight minors.

Our faculty, with their strong commitment to mission, teaching excellence, and wealth of real-world industry experience, make JPCatholic an attractive place to study for our students, who learn by thinking and doing.

Alumni Impact

Alumni are using their gifts across multiple industries and apostolates. We are proud of their diverse accomplishments. Below are a sampling of employers who have hired our graduates:

  • Word on Fire
  • The Daily Wire
  • Netflix
  • Adidas
  • Disney
  • Spirit Juice Studios
  • MGM
  • Catholic Vote
  • Life Teen
  • Covenant Eyes
  • PlayStation
  • AMGI Animation Studios
  • Acton Institute
  • Service Now
  • Augustine Institute

Timmerie Geagea
Class of 2013 | Emphasis in New Evangelization

The host of Trending with Timmerie, a nationally syndicated radio show on Relevant Radio, Timmerie is a nationally recognized speaker, pro-life advocate, and social media personality.

Accreditation & Ranking

Building an accredited university is a complex endeavor, which we approach with steadfast determination, careful planning, and deliberate action.

In 2015, we successfully completed the rigorous eight-year accreditation process through WSCUC (WASC Senior College and University Commission), which accredits colleges and universities in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific. In California, this includes 122 non-profits and 39 public institutions, such as Stanford, Caltech, USC, and the UC system.

JPCatholic earned an eight-year accreditation reaffirmation in June 2021, confirming our continued compliance with WSCUC standards.

Later in 2021, U.S. News ranked us as #19 in their Best Regional Colleges in the West (14 states and over 100 institutions), and #8 in Social Mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants.

The Newman Guide lists JPCatholic among the colleges and universities with a strong commitment to the truth and a fidelity to the magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church.

Effective Stewardship
How $14M raised has provided the basis for $49M in value

JPCatholic has a consistent record of highly effective stewardship. We have operated in the black every single year of our existence. Our $14M in philanthropic donations and God’s help have provided the basis for creating over $49M of value, through building an accredited 21st-century university with generous financial aid and strategic real-estate assets.

Multiplier Chart Effective Stewardship

Key Indicators


+20% growth in 2021


$5M accumulated since 2003

(with $4M of real estate equity & $1M of equipment)

Our Real Estate
Providential Acquisitions

Campus Real Estate in historic downtown Escondido


Academic Building

155 W. Grand Ave

Purchased 2013

Student Life Center

200 W. Grand Ave

Purchased 2015



220 W. Grand Ave

Purchased 2022


Latitude 33

(Students' Residences)

(All Purchased 2016)

Creative Arts Academic Complex

131 S. Broadway

St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel

240 S. Maple St

(All Purchased 2016)

Academic Building
155 W. Grand Ave
Purchased 2013

220 W. Grand Ave
Purchased 2022

Creative Arts Academic Complex
131 S. Broadway

Student Life Center
200 W. Grand Ave
Purchased 2015

Latitude 33
(Students' Residences)

St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel
240 S. Maple St

A Vision for the Future


A multi-year $18M comprehensive campaign for scholarship and campus expansion

Campaign Goal Raised & Pledged
Scholarships $6,600,000 $3,850,000
Chapel $5,900,000 $900,000
Creative Arts $5,500,000 $2,500,000
Total $18,000,000 $7,250,000

Our institutional imperatives are to:


Solidify a dynamic Christ-centered spirituality on our campus


Offer competitive scholarships


Have state-of-the-art academic facilities

Success in this multi-year, comprehensive campaign will further advance our building of an entrepreneurial epicenter for a robust Catholic and Christian media industry cluster.

We welcome benefactors who wish to connect their legacy with ours, joining us on the journey to form a rising generation of creative artists, business professionals, and scholars poised to Impact Culture for Christ.

St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel

Our Spiritual Home

St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel is critical to the spiritual formation of our students. The Sacraments are central to our mission to Impact Culture for Christ, and a beautiful sacred space is critical for the formation of the inquiring minds and creative imaginations of our students.

We acquired this historic 10,000 sq. ft. Mediterranean Revival structure in July 2016 for $800K. Designed by Louis Gill, one of the greatest architects in San Diego’s past, it was built in 1925. After our planned renovation, the Chapel will seat 300.

The Chapel design received a $100K lead gift from the Los Angeles based Dan Murphy Foundation, and in June 2023 a $1M lead gift from anonymous parents of an alum.

Our remaining funding need is $3M

Learn More

Creative Arts Academic Complex

Transformative Expansion

The Creative Arts Academic Complex was purchased in 2016 for $3.1M with a $1.5M gift from the Caster Family Trust and debt financing. The structurally sound 30,620 sq. ft. building sits on 1.3-acres and requires significant renovation. Our vision is to divide this structure into two separate buildings (Cinematic and Visual Arts, and Performing Arts) connected by a courtyard, which will serve as a venue for community events, outdoor performances, and student life. This complex will expand our current academic capabilities and campus exponentially, and equip our growing student body with the resources needed to create impactful art and more.

The complex will include:

  • Soundstage
  • Feature Film Production Facilities
  • Fine Arts Workshop
  • Acting Studio
  • Recording Studio
  • Classrooms and Labs

✓ Renovation Has Begun

Naming opportunities exist to fund building interior furnishings and equipment. This project is scheduled to complete in early 2025.

See Floorplans

This transformative Creative Arts complex is critical to the future success of JPCatholic’s mission, for our next phase of academic excellence, and the forging of lifelong relationships with alumni. Once complete, the new Creative Arts buildings will equip our faculty with vital resources to better serve our students and to elevate the student experience for future generations of aspiring artists. These facilities will provide crucial support for ground breaking projects, such as the Feature Film Program and alumni productions, and will unlock innovative collaborations for our students across all creative disciplines.”

Prof. George Simon

Chair of Communications Media

Student Scholarships

Investing for Impact

Our largest and most critical ongoing financial need is funding for institutional financial aid, which most students require. $26M in institutional financial aid has been awarded since 2006 with $4.4M awarded in FY 2021/22.

Families are experiencing ever greater financial need and require more scholarship aid. For low-income, and, increasingly, middle-income families, generous financial aid is often the deciding factor on whether their student can attend JPCatholic or not.

Our #9 position in Best Value and #14 position in Social Mobility in the 2022-2023 US News Regional Colleges West ranking (102 schools) is a testimony to our efforts to enroll and graduate disadvantaged students.

Learn More

Ways To Give


Make your tax-deductible donation now, using your credit card or your checking account


Personal Check

Please mail your personal check payable to JPCatholic:

John Paul the Great Catholic University
220 W. Grand Ave., Escondido, CA 92025


Charles Schwab

Stock Transfer

Account: 6075-0902
DTC: 0164
Tax ID: 20-0471061

Talk in Person

For more details on making a gift, please contact us:

Derry Connolly

Derry Connolly

Founding President



Martin Harold

Martin Harold

Executive Vice President, Advancement & Enrollment


Ken Sharrar

Ken Sharrar

Mission Advancement Director