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St. Scholastica launches largest fund drive in its history

The College of St. Scholastica is launching the largest fund drive in its history Saturday, $31 million. The announcement is being made at its Alumni Reunion.

  St. Scholastica President Larry Goodwin said that the "Imagine Tomorrow" drive is primarily being driven by the college's growth. St. Scholastica expects 2,650 students to enroll this fall, including at least 420 freshmen.

Both are new records for the 91-year-old Benedictine school.

While the drive includes funds for a new Wellness Center abutting the Reif Recreation Center, most of the money will be used to increase financial aid to students, increase the school's endowment and to invest in the college's signature programs in health sciences as well as develop programs in Catholic, interfaith and peace and justice studies.

Goodwin said that the college already has commitments for $18 million of the $31 million goal.

{IMG2}Del Case, the college's vice president for institutional advancement, said that planning for the fund drive began in 2000. The goal is to complete the drive within another four years.

Faculty and staff were consulted initially, Case said, in determining the college's needs. Increasing the number and amount of student scholarships was their top priority, Case said. With the student body growing, the need for growth in that area was clear, he said. While 90 percent of St. Scholastica students receive some form of financial aid, tuition is now $19,192, a 6 percent hike over a year go, and room and board is an additional $5,668, up 4.8 percent.

The college claims to give each student an average of $14,500 in financial aid, although that includes federally subsidized loans and student employment wages in addition to outright grants and scholarships.

"Private higher education does not mean 'exclusive' or 'wealthy,'" said Goodwin, noting that the mean family income of Minnesota's 17 private four-year colleges is lower than that of the University of Minnesota. "It's ordinary folks and first generation (college) folks that are going here."

After consulting with faculty and staff, Case said, a feasibility assessment was completed and then presented to previous donors of the school for their input. While endowed professorships seemed important initially, Case said that donors wanted more flexibility in the use of their dollars, so that became a lower priority.

The college currently has about 100 endowed scholarships, which is among the lowest of Minnesota's private colleges. Thus, $5.8 million of the fund drive will go for that specific purpose.

Another $5 million will go to the school's Vision Fund, which is designed to develop new programs and opportunities as they emerge.

About $3 million of the $7.2 million being raised for the school's signature programs will go to health sciences like nursing, physical therapy, exercise physiology and occupational therapy. Another $2.2 million will go to Catholic studies that emphasize social justice and the dignity of human labor. Interfaith studies that promote spiritual diversity are designated to receive $500,000, as are peace and justice studies.

The final $1 million will go toward professional development of the faculty in order to improve the learning experience for the students.

The college's permanent endowment, which is currently about $16 million, would grow another $4 million through this fund drive. An additional $2 million would be put in a revolving loan fund for use by the college.

The new 63,000-square-feet Wellness Center will cost $10 million and will include an indoor six-lane 200-meter track, with room for four basketball/volleyball courts in the middle, a free weight room, an aerobic dance room, a cardiovascular fitness mezzanine overlooking the track and new locker rooms. The facility will also make possible indoor baseball and softball practice with drop-down batting cages. Forty percent of the cost is coming from the capital campaign with the remainder coming through the sale of bonds.

Site preparation for the center began this week with the cutting of some beloved evergreens. Goodwin said the wood is going to be recycled into a yet-to-be determined structure on campus.

Construction on the campus is moving feverishly as well to complete a new 96-bed housing complex by mid-August. The Wellness Center is expected to be completed by fall 2004.

Case said that while the fund drive is nationwide, reaching out to friends and alumni of St. Scholastica, they are also hoping for support here in the Twin Ports.

"This campaign is good for us, but also highlights that higher education is a growth industry," Goodwin said. " It's reasonable for people to support this growth."

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