Paul and Sarah Karon with student Anna Sauter during the dedication ceremony for the newly named Paul and Sarah Karon Veterans Resource Center. (Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas)
Paul and Sarah Karon with Anna Sauter.

Proud to Support Veterans

The naming of the Paul and Sarah Karon Veterans Resource Center at St. Thomas was unveiled last fall on the lower level of Murray-Herrick Campus Center. And while the center’s namesakes didn’t serve in the military, supporting those who chose that path is a way of paying it forward.

Paul Karon
Paul Karon

Paul Karon ’85 attended the University of St. Thomas as a Bachelor of Arts transfer student in 1983 after his family fell on hard times. A scholarship made it possible, as did the availability of night courses, given he worked during the day.

“I don’t think my life experience would have been what it was (if I had attended) anywhere else than here,” he said.

After graduation, Karon took a job in reinsurance – at a company that assumes the risks of insurance companies. It was only 15 years later that he co-founded competitor Benfield Inc., serving as its president and chief operating officer and eventually as CEO and chairman. In 2008, Benfield was purchased by Aon. Karon, then in his 40s, served as Chairman Americas of Aon Benfield until he retired in 2012 from that role.

When Karon joined the St. Thomas Board of Trustees in 2016, he learned of the Veterans Services need for a designated space to provide a variety of resources for student veterans. By March 2017, along with gifts from other benefactors, the center was completed. It offers financial seminars, academic advisers and mental health resources to a kitchen, computers and study tables.

Karon, and his wife Sarah, a former journalist for Crain Communications, continue to provide support for the center. With the Paul and Sarah Karon Veterans Resource Center now named in the couple’s honor, their support for veterans and for St. Thomas has become a visible reminder of why they pay it forward.

“It’s (because of) the gratitude I have for the country (that) let someone go to night school and work their way up in a system to lead a large, complicated, multinational financial company. That doesn’t happen everywhere,” Karon said. “By close extension, that brings my gratitude to veterans.”

Best for Vets

St. Thomas has a Military Friendly School designation. The university has ranked four years in a row among the top 100 schools on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges for Veterans list. It has also landed on U.S. Veterans Magazine’s “Top Veteran-Friendly Schools” list and on the Military Times “Best for Vets” list.