Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
With more than 165 years of history in San Antonio, St. Mary's University is in the midst of its largest-ever capital campaign. The university, one of just three Marianist universities in the nation, aims to raise $130 million.
The goal is lofty – six times larger than any other fundraising effort in the school's history. When the campaign first launched in November, a little more than $104 million had already been donated. University President Thomas Mengler said Thursday that the school has collected more than $105 million.
A recent donation from Bill Greehey, honorary campaign co-chair, certainly has contributed to this total. An alumnus of St. Mary's, Greehey has donated $3 million from 2014 to 2016 to benefit the the Greehey Scholars program, which focuses on servant leadership. On Tuesday, St. Mary's announced another Greehey gift, this one in the amount of $1 million.
"I am proud to have received my degree from St. Mary's because in addition to an outstanding education, the Marianist brothers instilled in me the work ethic and dedication that helped me achieve a successful career," Greehey said.
Money from this campaign will help pay for construction of a number of new facilities that align with objectives in the university's strategic plan. A new STEM building will add to a growing effort to update the school's science facilities.
In 2013, St. Mary's began the process of renovating three existing buildings in the School of Science, Engineering, and Technology. The new facility built with campaign funds will be the fourth and will house faculty and staff offices.
Donated funds will also contribute to the construction of a performing arts center that will give a permanent home to what university spokesperson Andrew Festa described as "nomads" who currently perform in various spaces.
Mengler said $40 million will go to student scholarships. He said this money has already been donated, but the effort to fundraise for this purpose will not stop as a result.
"This will help students afford to come to St. Mary's without significant debt or working long hours that interfere with studies," he explained.
Plans are also moving forward on an interdisciplinary Center for Catholic Studies. The university is searching for a director for the center, a position whose salary has already been endowed, Mengler said.
The center will help the university maintain ties to its Marianist origins and carry that mission forward, Mengler said. Over time, the number of Marianist brothers teaching on campus has diminished. While five or six are currently on campus as professors, university officials say the center will provide more solid roots to the Marianist and Catholic faith that helped found St. Mary's.
Mengler also said the fundraising campaign will help pay for improvements to the university's career services program, which aims to guide students on a career path throughout their time at the university. Mengler wants students to think about their careers from the day they start orientation at St. Mary's.
"An alarming percentage [of students] check in [to career services] during spring of senior year," Mengler said, emphasizing the importance of students engaging with the department early on.
The endowments funded by the campaign will work toward creating programs that aid students in job searches and assist them in obtaining career-related internships and eventual employment.
Mengler said St. Mary's students are different because their Catholic education inspires them to think of their future careers as "a vocation." He hopes the changes made possible through the campaign continue to reinforce this attitude.
This article was originally published on Jan. 25, 2018.