A year ago, we announced an intentional focus on increasing scholarships to help more students with financial need become Tommies. Our goals: Raise $200 million and double our scholarship endowment over the next eight years.
Thanks to our uniquely strong alumni network, I am pleased to report that we are already one-third of the way toward completing these goals.
While most of our students receive scholarships from St. Thomas, many come to campus with unmet financial need. It cannot be overstated: Every gift matters, regardless of size. Thus, I am thrilled that since last November alone, more than 6,000 new donors have come forward with gifts of all sizes to advance our scholarship goals. As we reduce financial barriers, we create more opportunities for highly motivated students to receive a St. Thomas education.
Over the past year, we also have been blessed with gifts to support new scholarship programs. The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, which funds the Schulze Innovation Scholarship program, welcomed its inaugural class of 10 budding entrepreneurs this year (see Page 55). They will be joined in the Opus College of Business next year by our first class of GHR Fellows. Current high school seniors are encouraged to apply for these four-year, full-tuition business scholarship programs before Jan. 3, 2019.
Last month, we announced the Martin Ryan and Richard Sterbenz Scholarship, which will empower some of our Dougherty Family College students to continue their studies toward bachelor’s degrees at St. Thomas. Clearly, we are making progress toward closing the opportunity and prosperity gaps for our students.
And finally, we are being blessed with donors stepping forward to support the spiritual heart of our campus, the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. Our chapel will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, and with the leadership support of the Iversen family and other major benefactors, we will expand and update it for another 100 years. A new design will add gathering spaces for students and community members, a home for the Center for Campus Ministry and the welcoming amenities of central air conditioning and handicapped accessibility. Not only are we preserving a historically significant building, but we also are re-emphasizing its central role for generations to come.
I have never known a network as loyal and intentional as our Tommie network. You are making it clear that you want to give back by doing your part to make St. Thomas more affordable and more accessible to students. You are dedicated to improving the St. Thomas experience for future generations.
Thank you, alumni and friends, for advancing the common good!