The groundbreaking date for St. Thomas’ newest and largest academic building is officially set – and visitors will see a familiar name with a deep university legacy when the first-of-its-kind facility opens in 2024.
On Wednesday night, President Julie Sullivan announced the university’s long-planned STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) complex will be named in honor of Guy and Barbara Schoenecker. The Schoenecker family legacy and impact already permeates across campus, from libraries and athletics facilities to one of the university’s largest endowed scholarship programs.
Now, that legacy will include a facility that will reshape the liberal arts foundation essential to St. Thomas student success, and their future careers.
“What research is telling us, what our industry partners are telling us, is that they need graduates who have broad knowledge, who are flexible thinkers, and who are used to working with different fields and different ideas,” Sullivan told donors at the annual Archbishop John Ireland Dinner. “That’s exactly what you will see when you step through the doors of the Schoenecker Center.”
Sullivan also announced the Schoenecker Center’s official groundbreaking for May 2022 in St. Paul. The center, which will better prepare students for careers by eliminating silos between traditionally separate academic departments, is anticipated to open its doors in spring 2024.
"The integration of the arts and STEM education will be a game changer by infusing a new level of creativity and a deep sense of the aesthetic in all that we do,” said Lisa Anderson of the Schoeneckers Foundation, and daughter of the late Guy Schoenecker. “It will drive human-centered design and innovation."
The center continues a long tradition of impact made possible by the Schoeneckers Foundation. A founder of the university’s downtown Minneapolis campus, the Schoenecker name can be found on several structures that have redefined the heart of both of St. Thomas’ Twin Cities locations. In Minneapolis, the name is on the Law Library at the School of Law; in St. Paul, it can be found on meeting spaces at the new Iversen Center for Faith, and the basketball and volleyball courts at the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex.
Since 1977, the Schoenecker Family Endowed Scholarship has provided more than 300 individual awards and $3.7 million in financial assistance to St. Thomas students.
“The Schoenecker family legacy is inspiring,” Sullivan said. “The family’s philanthropy has been a blessing and a gift to St. Thomas, our campus, our students, and the many communities we impact.”
With over 130,000 square feet, the Schoenecker Center will help St. Thomas meet the rapidly evolving needs of the community and employers by enabling collaborative, interdisciplinary education that incorporates diverse viewpoints into students’ work. The five-level building will house three academic areas (Arts, Engineering and Sciences) and everything from engineering high bays and science labs to musical performance spaces and art galleries. It will also include St. Thomas’ Centers for Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Water Justice, an emerging media newsroom, and robotics labs.
“The Schoenecker Center is truly new and innovative. It is where higher education is going – where it needs to go – and we are so excited to be on the leading edge,” Sullivan said.
The center will also redefine the university’s look along Summit Avenue, where it will adjoin the O’Shaughnessy Science Hall, home to several engineering, math and science departments. Designed with input from various corporate industry partners, the center will foster more collaboration among students who otherwise may not have worked together in a typical university setting. It will also provide learning, meeting and performance spaces for local K-12 schools and community organizations.