By Cullen Trobec
This past week, St. John’s University announced the end of the most successful
capital campaign in the school’s history: Forward Ever Forward. In total, the campaign raised over $188 million for the future of St. John’s, surpassing the
initial goal of $160 million.
The Forward Ever Forward campaign began in July of 2008 and ended this past summer in June. The campaign aimed to benefit every part of St. John’s: the College of Arts and Sciences, the graduate School of Theology, St. John’s Abbey, and the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. Specific monetary goals were set for each entity, all of which were reached and surpassed.
“The Abbey and University work together on projects in this way, to take a longer, more integrated view of getting the support we need to really fund transformative change in the both the Abbey and University,” Abbot John Klassen, OSB said via email.
The grand total of $188,247,890 was gifted by 27,200 separate donors over nine years in the form of direct donations, pledges and bequests. Alumni, parents and friends of the university made up the majority of the donors, with other donations coming in from various foundations.
The largest portion of the proceeds — about 67 percent — will go toward the St. John’s College of Arts and Sciences.
“The biggest benefit to students was the money we raised for scholarships,” SJU Vice President for Institutional Advancement Rob Culligan said.
Other proceeds will go toward new educational programs. Specific beneficiaries include the Center for Global Education, the McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship and the Ralph Gross Chair in Business and Liberal Arts.
“[The goal is] provide scholarships that reduce the burden of student loans, and to ensure every young man who wants to come to St. John’s can afford to do so, no matter his family situation, financial resources or background.” Raj Chaphalkar, SJU Director of Annual Giving said via email.
Some of the most obvious results of the Forward Ever Forward campaign are the new facilities at SJU. The McKeown Center, Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons and renovation of Alcuin Library have all directly resulted from the campaign.
“This campaign funded more projects that help students than any campaign we’ve ever done by far,” Culligan said.
The additions didn’t stop at academic facilities, though, millions of dollars were also put toward revamping the athletic complexes on campus. Gagliardi Field and Seasonal Dome, Haws Field, Haugen Field, the Chang Tennis Complex and the Alper’s Golf Learning Center were all financed through Forward Ever Forward. Other improvements include a resurfaced track, new turf and lights for Clemens Stadium, refurbishments for the wrestling room and new bleachers in Sexton Arena.
According to SJU President Michael Hemesath, none of these financial, academic, and athletic benefits would have been possible without the incredibly generous community of alumni and friends from St. John’s.
“Our alumni are both generous and supportive, so they want students to have access to the same educational opportunities that they had themselves,” Hemesath said. “The support we received suggests that they remain appreciative of St. John’s mission, and are confident about its future.”
SJU isn’t alone in its ability to pull off successful capital campaigns. In 2008 the College of St. Benedict raised $82.7 million, which was the driving force behind the construction of Gorecki Center. Another campaign is currently in the works for CSB and is set to go public during the 2018-2019 school year. Although some of the money is planned to go toward renovations of buildings such as the Main and Haehn Campus Center, the focus will remain on scholarship opportunities for students.
“In order to ensure that we have the financial aid that will allow all young women, regardless of their financial situation, to benefit from a College of St. Benedict education, it is crucial that we grow the endowment,” CSB Vice President for Institutional Advancement Kathy Hansen said via email.
Future campaigns aside, the lasting impacts of the completed Forward Ever Forward campaign are sure to resonate for generations to come.