'Building Our Future' Campaign Exceeds Goal by $1.2 million


‘Building Our Future’ Campaign Exceeds Goal by $1.2 million

St. Ambrose University is pleased to announce a successful conclusion to a capital campaign that helped construct the new Wellness and Recreation Center, the largest capital project in university history.

The Building Our Future capital campaign raised a total of $19,739,000, exceeding its goal of $18.5 million by more than $1.2 million - 106 percent over goal.

The campaign received support from 122 new major donors, 90 of whom are St. Ambrose alumni. Of the more 1,000 donors who supported the campaign, 745 earned degrees from St. Ambrose.

In addition to donations earmarked for capital projects, St. Ambrose received gifts totaling $5,069,000 towards the university's endowment, with an additional $4,859,000 from future planned expectancies. In all, 27 new endowed scholarships were added over the course of the campaign, with 10 additional endowed scholarships funded through future estate plans.

In sum, a total of $29,667,000 was raised for the Wellness and Recreation Center, improvements at the St. Vincent's Athletic Complex, scholarships, and the endowment since the silent phase of the campaign was launched in 2012.

rec center exterior

Donors are honored through more than 58 named features throughout the 80,000-square-foot Wellness and Recreation Center. Prominent spaces include the Joe and Joyce O'Rourke Fieldhouse and the Steven and Shelagh Roell Indoor Track, which acknowledges two of the campaign's benefactors. Joseph O'Rourke, a 1972 St. Ambrose graduate, and Steve Roell, who graduated in 1971, are both members of the University Board of Trustees.

The Wellness and Recreation Center serves the general fitness and recreational needs of all SAU students, faculty, and staff, as well as the practice and competition needs of hundreds of Fighting Bees athletes. It also is the academic home of the Kinesiology Department.

In the past year, an average of 630 users per day have accessed the general cardio and fitness room and a total of 18,500 users from the St. Ambrose community, visiting athletics teams, and the Quad Cities community have entered O'Rourke Fieldhouse.

"The close of this hugely successful campaign marks a historic moment for St. Ambrose University," said Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, university president. "I want to personally commend volunteer co-chairs Mike and Barb (Bush) Johnson and Brian and Beth (Figge) Lemek for their generous leadership in this effort.

"I also am tremendously grateful to Jim Stangle, vice president for advancement, and Sally Crino, associate vice president and Building Our Future campaign director, for their outstanding work in guiding this campaign. We began this capital campaign with the understanding that an entirely new generation of supporters and alumni needed to be engaged if we were going to be successful. The fact that Jim, Sally, and their team were able to meet that challenge so successfully truly helps to ensure the future of St. Ambrose University."

Noting that nearly half of the university's base of 25,000-plus alumni graduated within the past 20 years, Stangle said it was imperative to find supporters willing to follow the example of the generations that helped St. Ambrose grow through previous capital campaigns.

The campaign's co-chairs, in particular, exemplified the new generation of philanthropists, Stangle noted, as Barbara Johnson's father, John "Jack" Bush, and Beth's father, John Figge, also served on the Board of Trustees, as both daughters and Brian Lemek do now. Each father also donated generously to local causes, including St. Ambrose University. Jack Bush helmed the campaign that constructed the SAU Library.

'We began this capital campaign with the understanding that an entirely new generation of supporters and alumni needed to be engaged if we were going to be successful. The fact we were able to meet that challenge so successfully truly helps to ensure the future of St. Ambrose University.'

Sister Joan Lescinski,CSJ

Sister Joan praised the Lemeks, both graduates of St. Ambrose, and the Johnsons for providing "a new generation of St. Ambrose philanthropic and volunteer leadership, while honoring their families' history of engagement with our university."

Several Building Our Future volunteer committee chairs and countless new donors also honored philanthropic family legacies.

Importantly, however, a large majority of new campaign supporters are creating their own philanthropic legacies. Many younger alumni responded to a call to serve their alma mater in various volunteer capacities and, once re-engaged within a St. Ambrose community that significantly impacted their lives, they felt compelled to help upcoming generations of SAU students.

"I have been successful and a lot of that is owed to my St. Ambrose experience," said Aaron Quick, a St. Louis entrepreneur who graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. "I believe in the culture and values of St. Ambrose University."

During the Building Our Future campaign, Quick joined the Presidents Advisory Council and co-founded an alumni mentoring program. He is one of over 1,000 volunteers representing the university, a number that tripled during the campaign.

Crino said the nearly $10 million raised for the endowment, endowed scholarships and through future estate commitments concurrent to the capital project campaign will ensure the St. Ambrose experience will be available to countless future students.

"Our generous and motivated donors will have added a total of 37 new endowed scholarships, more than doubling the number of endowed scholarships that we have and ensuring access to a St. Ambrose degree for virtually any motivated learner," Crino said.

Sister Joan said these endowed scholarships are essential to the future of St. Ambrose.

"Keeping a St. Ambrose education affordable and available to every student who understands its value always will be primary to the St. Ambrose mission," she said. "The support of those who endow these scholarships is gratifying evidence that they understand that value as well."

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