With a focus on educational excellence, increasing access and reducing student debt, the University of St. Thomas today announced a goal of infusing $200 million into scholarship support for students over the next eight years. St. Thomas also announced a $50 million gift from GHR Foundation designated entirely for scholarships as a significant, first step toward achieving that goal.
The GHR gift represents the largest endowed scholarship for the University of St. Thomas and the largest scholarship gift for any college or university in the history of Minnesota. With this gift, the University of St. Thomas will establish a pre-eminent four-year endowed scholarship program for business majors. This highly competitive program is designed to attract future business leaders who embody the mission of the university and model the values of GHR – innovative, ethically minded, community-engaged and globally aware changemakers who create enduring value for society.
“GHR Foundation believes education can transform an individual’s life as it did for our founder, Gerry Rauenhorst, a first-generation college student and St. Thomas alum,” said Amy Rauenhorst Goldman, CEO and chair of GHR Foundation and member of the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees. “As chair of the university’s $200 million scholarship initiative, I know GHR’s gift will inspire great acts of generosity to further support St. Thomas in educating students to be principled leaders who think critically, work skillfully and act wisely to advance the common good.”
Each year, scholarship recipients – known as GHR Fellows – will be selected for a transformative undergraduate experience. Student benefits include:
- full tuition for four years (with room and board stipend for students who demonstrate high financial need)
- fully funded J-Term study abroad experience
- individualized career coaching and preparation
- cohort four-year experience (60 GHR Fellows across all four years)
- access to C-suite business, community and university leaders
- customized social entrepreneurship and service learning opportunities
- a vibrant GHR Fellows alumni network for lifelong fellowship and mutual support
Eligible students will graduate from high school in or after 2019 and be among the top of their class, with a minimum GPA of 3.7 and a 28 minimum ACT composite score. Essays, interviews and an on-campus experience will be required in the selection of the GHR Fellows.
“I feel confident GHR Fellows will graduate from St. Thomas fully prepared to catapult themselves to highly visible leadership roles with the potential to influence others, to personally invest in areas of impact and to create enduring value for society,” said Julie Sullivan, president of the University of St. Thomas.
For more than a decade, the University of St. Thomas has focused on increasing financial assistance to students. In 2016-17, 99 percent of St. Thomas first-year students received financial aid, yet too many students still have unmet financial needs. With the drive to infuse $200 million into scholarship support, St. Thomas expects to double the scholarship endowment, thereby providing a sustainable source of scholarship funds to help decrease the amount of students’ unmet financial need.
“Reducing student debt is a priority for St. Thomas. The university is tackling this problem from several angles including increased financial education programs for students and holding down costs through a recent universitywide review and improvement of the efficiency of our operations,” Sullivan said. “St. Thomas does not want cost to be a barrier for students interested in getting an education at our university. This is why generating support for financial aid is a top fundraising priority.”
Annual giving and endowed scholarships – like the GHR gift – hold the promise to impact hundreds of students, reducing the burden of college debt and better positioning graduates to positively impact the economy and society for generations to come.
Colleen Sauter, who works with the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and Opus College of Business at St. Thomas, said she is excited to share all this good news with high school students, with the hope that they will be able to more readily see themselves at St. Thomas.
"[Scholarships are] a great benefit to this university and really will open more access for students to come to this place," Sauter said. "As I think about GHR and what they brought to the table, it really is going to be a great opportunity. ... It's going to create a vehicle for many students to come in and have a deeper, more individualized experience."
First-year student Michael Sullivan said that the scholarship announcement made him feel that it was "unbelievable to be able to call himself a student" at St. Thomas.
"This continued support by the GHR Foundation shows the investment by the alumni and the alumni network back into students [and] future students," Michael said.
Student Shonni Krengel echoed that she was at St. Thomas because of scholarship.
"I am here ... because of generous people giving me this opportunity to get this education. I’m glad we’re extending to it to others," Krengel said.
Undergraduate Student Government President Ryan Foster said that knowing the school was extending new opportunities to future students made him proud to soon be an alumnus.