Momentum shifts to Full Ahead
By Mike Dauplaise ’84
New comprehensive campaign focuses on securing St. Norbert’s future among the nation’s top Catholic liberal arts colleges.
It’s not every liberal arts college that has gained the resources to add a new library, stadium, welcome center and commons within the span of just a few years. And it’s the gathering momentum evident in initiatives like these that makes the college’s leadership team and board of trustees believe that now is the time to announce “Campaign St. Norbert: Full Ahead.”
This comprehensive campaign to raise $90 million signals a continuing commitment to enhance the student experience and upgrade facilities. The effort strengthens a drive to maintain the college’s position among the ranks of elite Catholic liberal arts institutions in the country.
“There’s no question that St. Norbert is building on its momentum, and I think that momentum comes from the distinctive characteristics of the college,” notes Mike Van Asten ’75, campaign co-chair and vice chairman of the board of trustees. “With St. Norbert’s unique focus on student learning, both inside and outside of the classroom, we are very concerned with shaping a life of consequence.
”The five priorities of the Full Ahead campaign include the building of a new center for the sciences to replace the Dr. John R. Minahan Science (JMS) Hall, and to generate additional resources to assist with student financial aid. A more robust endowment will enable the college to provide financial aid for a greater number of students and resources for the faculty that teaches those students. The campaign’s initiatives stem from the college’s strategic plan, which is a product of collaboration between the college leadership team, faculty, staff and board of trustees.
“The timing of the public phase of this campaign is important because we feel like everything we’re doing is coming from a position of strength rather than need,” states President Tom Kunkel. “We’re launching a comprehensive campaign because we want to build on the solid foundation we have and consolidate some of the gains we’ve been able to make in the past several years,” he says.
“It’s St. Norbert’s time. There’s a buzz about St. Norbert College that’s out there that’s new, and we have these wonderful resources that our friends and benefactors have made possible. We really want to take advantage of that – what we think is St. Norbert College’s moment. People come on this campus and they see things are happening. This really and truly is a campus on the move. It makes for a really strong competitive advantage.
”The Full Ahead campaign, which has been building momentum over the past few years, supports the college’s strategic plan and aims to elevate St. Norbert into the top five Catholic liberal arts colleges in the country. (St. Norbert currently sits in 10th place among Catholic colleges on U.S. News & World Report’s list of “America’s Best National Liberal Arts Colleges.”) To accomplish that, the $90 million campaign is focusing on five specific areas:
- Center for the sciences - $35 million
- Financial aid - $20 million
- Faculty support - $15 million
- Student experience - $10 million
- Enhancement of existing facilities - $10 million
“We have the right faculty and the right leadership in place, now we need to get the facilities in line and build our endowment so we can keep it going,” says Ed Sturzl ’71, who is a campaign co-chair along with his wife, Ann ’72. “We want to get the right students here with the least amount of stress financially that we can provide.
|A video that makes the case for Campaign St. Norbert. >>MORE
The JMS science hall has served the campus well for more than 40 years, but developments in the field and the rapid pace of technological advancement are transforming science education, and a comprehensive reimagining of the science facility ranks high on the strategic plan’s priority list.
“We have priority 1 and 1A in the science building and financial aid,” Kunkel says. “Expanding and renovating the science building is far and away our resource priority. It will define the institution for generations. It’s going to be transformational in a way people have never seen before, and it would hold us back in ways that would not be fair to the students if we did not address this.
”The proposed center for the sciences calls for a transformation of JMS. The new building will not be a complete replacement of the existing facility, but renders the existing structure unrecognizable. It will include state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment for a range of specialties: organic and synthetic chemistry; geology; physics; microbiology; immunology; anatomy; physiology; robotics; psychology; and more.
“A new science building is simply not optional at this point,” states Michael Foley, Ph.D., ’84, who serves as director of chemical biology at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. “A great liberal arts college has to have a great science department.
”In addition to supporting faculty research, the facility’s design will encourage collaborative research, which is one of the most valuable academic experiences a student can have. An increasing number of St. Norbert students are taking advantage of opportunities to conduct collaborative research with faculty members.
“Upgrading the science building is important in order to keep St. Norbert on par with some of the other leading campuses,” comments Ann Sturzl. “So many good things are going on in the science department, and we need to give them the boost they need to complete some of their projects. It will be a fantastic draw for future students coming to the campus.
”The campaign is also focusing on providing solutions for the growing public debate regarding the affordability of education in general. In the case of St. Norbert students, that includes opportunities to fully engage in the learning process both inside and outside the classroom.
A successful campaign will increase the financial support the college can offer students in need, as well as funding merit-based scholarships that will enhance the ability to attract students of great promise to St. Norbert.
And the campaign will also generate support for on-campus organizations and programs that include the recently named Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice & Public Understanding and the Sturzl Center for Community Service & Learning.
An open window for giving
Those who wish to give to the campaign can support general funds or earmark their resources for specific needs. In addition to naming opportunities for major gifts, such as the center for the sciences, additional targeted-giving suggestions include the underwriting of student travel, nationally and internationally, for service, coursework and research.
“Each individual donor has a unique passion,” observes Van Asten. “While that passion for some happens to be brick and mortar, for many others it has to do with the student experience both in and out of the classroom. That opens a wide array of opportunities for gifts. St. Norbert was a good school when I attended, but by all standards, it’s a great school today.
”The campaign also seeks to secure funding for the enhancement or renovation of existing facilities, including iconic structures such as Main Hall and Old St. Joe’s, and aging facilities such as the Schuldes Sports Center. These types of buildings require additional investment to maintain their ability to function efficiently and meet the changing needs of the campus community.
While current resources enable the college to assist 97 percent of students with some form of financial aid, the Full Ahead campaign is seeking to provide more and greater opportunities to students of high need, or from underrepresented groups. It will ensure aid is available for students from working-class families, for whom tuition payments are pitted squarely against the overriding needs of supporting a household.
The campaign will also fund merit-based scholarships designed to attract high-caliber students to St. Norbert, while providing faculty with the tools they need to have a transformational effect on the lives of students. The college attracts a unique brand of instructor who appreciates the smaller class sizes and more intimate nature of the student-teacher relationship.
Gifts also can enhance strides made in the increasingly popular Honors Program. This program, which covers all four years of the college experience, actively promotes interaction and collaboration between honors students and faculty. It includes course work, participation in a living-learning community and a senior project.
The program provides highly motivated, intellectually curious and creative students with a college experience that challenges them academically, engages them in a diverse and dynamic intellectual community, and inspires them to embrace the Catholic, Norbertine model of service.
“The St. Norbert community is unbelievably fortunate in the people who support this college,” Kunkel says. “At a time when a lot of colleges are standing still or going in reverse, we’re able to launch a campaign that is well-planned, with the right targets.”