St. Edward’s University has raised $100.4 million in donations and pledges, with more than half of that sum set aside for grants to support students with financial need.
The small Catholic school, situated on a hilltop three miles south of the Capitol, also received gifts to build a library and renovate the Main Building, a striking Romanesque revival structure of tan brick and limestone with a tower.
The university, with an enrollment of about 4,600, puts a priority on supporting students with financial need, and more than 440 will benefit annually from the newly funded scholarships. Tuition and mandatory fees for the academic year starting in August will come to $43,300.
“This is extraordinarily important for us to continue our educational mission of opening up doors of opportunity,” George Martin, president of St. Edward’s, said of the scholarship aid.
The university’s previous fundraising campaign netted $70 million. The current fund drive began July 1, 2007, and will end June 30. The goal was $100 million.
“We went over the top in February,” Martin said. “We’re still trying to add dollars between now and June 30.”
Donors include Luci Baines Johnson
The contributions for student aid included an unexpectedly large bequest in honor of Romard Barthel, a Holy Cross brother who died last year after serving as a professor at the university for more than 60 years. The gift came from the estate of Alex and Nancy Marusak.
Alex Marusak studied under Barthel in the 1960s and went on to a career at Los Alamos National Laboratory, part of the federal government’s nuclear weapons complex. When Marusak visited St. Edward’s in 2006, he asked Barthel to sign a copy of “The Handbook of Physics” that the professor had given him more than 50 years earlier for being named “physics student of the year.”
Marusak died a few months later of pancreatic cancer. After his wife died in 2014, university officials learned that the couple had left $3.2 million, the majority of their estate, to St. Edward’s for a scholarship endowment that includes research stipends for top students in science. The university also received Marusak’s physics book, whose inside cover bore this inscription from Barthel: “Alex, you’re still #1!”
The most generous donors by far during the 10-year campaign were Bill and Pat Munday of Austin, who contributed more than $20 million for scholarships, $13 million for a technology-equipped library and the eventual proceeds of a $10 million annuity. Pat Munday is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and her husband operates several car dealerships. The library, which bears the Munday name, has already been built.
Seven-figure gifts and pledges included $1.1 million from Luci Baines Johnson and Ian Turpin of Austin for one of the university’s signature programs, which provides full tuition aid for children of migrant workers. The couple’s donation established an endowment to underwrite foreign study, summer research and other enrichment activities for those students. Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson, graduated from St. Edward’s, and Turpin, her husband, is a member of its governing board.
Trustees and other donors also established a $1.5 million endowment in Martin’s name to support up to six students in the honors program. Joe DeMedeiros, vice president for university advancement, quoted Martin as quipping that a college president usually has to leave or die before something is named for him.
All told, 14,000 people, a quarter of whom are alumni, donated to the Campaign for St. Edward’s University, as the fund drive was dubbed, DeMedeiros said. The campaign began immediately after the conclusion of the previous fund drive, whose $70 million bottom line was $5 million more than the goal.
“We are seeing some tremendous growth in our culture of philanthropy as exemplified by growth in our alumni giving,” DeMedeiros said. More than 70 percent of faculty and staff members donated, a rate of participation that he called “astonishing.”
Strategic plan to be unveiled in Sept.
The campaign has enabled the construction or renovation of a natural sciences center, the gym, the chapel and a campus ministry building, in addition to the library and the Main Building. Work on the Main Building is ongoing and includes replacement of the roof, ventilation system and windows, no two of which share the same dimensions.
The Catholic Diocese of Austin helped pay for renovating Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, but the university doesn’t receive regular funding from the church. Unlike some Catholic universities that are governed by a diocesan board, St. Edward’s has an independent board.
The university will begin its next fund drive in July, and it will take into account a new campus master plan and a new strategic plan, both to be unveiled in September, Martin said.
“We’re going to need a new theater, perhaps a business school building and some athletic facilities,” he said. “Certainly we need more student housing.”