Record Fundraising Year Bolsters Student Experience

Ninety-three million reasons, to be exact.

St. Thomas officially announced a record fundraising year that saw nearly $93 million raised by over 9,300 donors in 2021-22. The figure also included a record 16,446 gifts from alumni, and $2.4 million raised during Tommie Give Day – the university’s national day of philanthropy. The money raised is being devoted to initiatives outlined in St. Thomas 2025, the university’s latest five-year strategic plan designed to enhance its student experience, including:

  • $40 million committed for student scholarships and 2,867 awards
  • Funding for the Morrison Family College of Health to reimagine health equity and launch Minnesota’s newest nursing program
  • Construction of the Schoenecker Center for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education
  • Gifts designed to create a robust residency culture for students living on campus

And much more.

“The No. 1 priority in our strategic plan is to increase student access to St. Thomas,” said Interim President Rob Vischer. “We believe that our relationship-centered approach to education is life-changing, and our fundraising success is making it possible for us to impact more lives, families, and communities each year.”

Highlights included:

Scholarships for students

Historically, 97% of first-year St. Thomas students receive some level of support to offset tuition costs. Last year’s success dedicated an additional $17.3 million directed to the university’s endowment, 80% of which funds scholarships, and $22.7 million to annual scholarships. Even with this success, unmet needs remain. Approximately 35% of St. Thomas students need additional support after calculating grants, scholarships and federal student loans.

Gaining STEAM

An aerial photo of construction crews working on the Schoenecker Center on south campus. Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas
An aerial photo of construction crews working on the Schoenecker Center on south campus. (Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas)

The Schoenecker Center remains on track for opening in spring 2024 thanks to lead gifts from Schoeneckers Foundation; 94 Foundation; Pierson M. and Florence B. Grieve; Kent and Brenda Lynch; John Monahan ’73; and Stephen ’67 and Jami Nachtsheim. The Iversen Family Foundation supported a “high bay,” an engineer’s sandbox where students can test their creations on extreme mechanical forces. And a leadership gift supported the creation of a premier instrumental music rehearsal space in Schoenecker Center.

Shaping the future of health care

Interior of the newly remodeled Summit Classroom Building for the Susan S. Morrison School of Nursing. (Liam James Doyle/University of St. Thomas)

Lead benefactors of the College of Health, John and Susan Morrison, played a major role in helping the university welcome its first cohort at the Susan S. Morrison School of Nursing. This year also saw a complete remodel of the Summit Classroom Building, home to nursing and social work students. The remodel includes the creation of the St. Thomas Center for Simulation, where students can gain hands-on learning experiences practicing health assessment, interventions, and treatment.

New pathways through DFC

Last year, 16 students from Dougherty Family College received Continuing Excellence Scholarships, which fully fund tuition for their undergraduate degrees at St. Thomas. Donors, including the Ryan/Sterbenz Estate and Gene and Mary Frey, made these scholarships possible. Corporate partners expand the career horizons for DFC students. This fall, DFC’s enrollment rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic, filling all openings for first-year students. The university will continue working to expand scholarship support so more DFC students can stay at St. Thomas to earn bachelor's degrees.

More access to campus life

The Frey family poses for a photo during an event celebrating the Frey Room and Board Grants gift in front of the newly renamed Mary and Gene Frey Hall (formerly Tommie East) on May 11, 2022 in St. Paul.
The Frey family poses for a photo during an event celebrating the Frey Room and Board Grants gift in front of the newly renamed Mary and Gene Frey Hall (formerly Tommie East) on May 11, 2022, in St. Paul. (Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas)

Thanks to a transformational gift from Gene Frey ’52, the university is creating a robust residency culture. First- and second-year students are required to live on campus in order to experience the numerous benefits of the on-campus experience. Following with the university’s strategic plan priority to increase student access, the Frey gift fully supports room and board for 25 to 30 students over those critical first two years of undergraduate life.

“This record-setting year is an important milestone for St. Thomas,” said Erik Thurman, vice president for university advancement. “Our mission for the common good, coupled with a strong culture of philanthropy at St. Thomas, is propelled by so many important partners: alumni, volunteers, individual donors, companies and employers, foundations, and so many other connections made that lead to stronger outcomes for our students. As we continue widening the circle, we are grateful to them all.”