Children of St. Ambrose University alumni who enroll as first-year or transfer students at SAU automatically will receive a Fr. Robert Welch Legacy Scholarship beginning in the fall of 2014.
"We think this is the best thing we have done to acknowledge legacy status," said Jim Stangle '82, vice president for advancement. "If you are an alumnus and you have enough faith to trust us with your ultimate gift, your children, we want to recognize that."
Legacy students made up more than five percent of the first-year and transfer students who enrolled at St. Ambrose this fall, and John Cooper, vice president for enrollment management, wants to increase that percentage in the years to come.
Awarding every such student $1,000 for each year of their undergraduate career won't be inexpensive, but Cooper said it is a small price to reward loyal alumni.
"I always like to think of alumni as our mission in action," he said. "They are the ones out in their communities day to day enriching the lives of others."
As a St. Ambrose graduate himself, Stangle is not surprised fellow alumni trust their children's education to SAU. He is, though, impressed by the depth of the commitment many Ambrosian families have to their alma mater. "It is not only generation to generation," he said.
"We have multiple siblings from the same family at the same time."
Brady Curran, a sophomore majoring in exercise science, followed his father to St. Ambrose-as well as an aunt, an uncle, a grandfather, a great uncle and a cousin.
His sister Kelly, a senior at Annawan (Ill.) High School, already is making plans to enroll at St. Ambrose next year. Another sister Meghan, a high school freshman, also has her sights set on SAU.
Their father, Kevin Curran '88, was a resident adviser at Ambrose Hall and, later, he and his wife, Karen, were wed by Rev. George McDaniel '66 in Christ the King Chapel.
The family's feelings for SAU clearly run deep, but Kevin Curran said he didn't have to actively encourage his son to choose his alma mater.
"We had visited a few times over the course of the years, and we always stopped by the grotto," he said. "I think Brady just felt at home there. He had heard my stories on how there are so many good people there, and how there's always someone looking out for you. It is kind of like an extended family."
It is a family that grows through legacy families like the Currans, but Kevin said it is much more than loyalty that gives him reason to trust his children to his alma mater.
He and Kelly looked at comparable schools in the region this past fall, but he said they both saw no reason to look further once they toured a campus that almost has doubled in size since 1988.
"St. Ambrose is hands down better with everything they are doing," Kevin said. "Once you get there, you think ‘This is as far as I want to go.' It is peace of mind for a parent."
And, as a legacy parent, he said the Fr. Robert Welch Legacy Scholarship is welcome news as well.
"That's fantastic," he said. "That's always music to a parent's ears with a kid going off to school."