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St. Norbert College Receives $1.75 Million Dollar Gift

From St. Norbert College, August 25, 2015
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, 920-403-3089

St. Norbert College has received gifts totaling $1.75 million in support of its new Gehl-Mulva Science Center and to provide scholarships for junior and senior St. Norbert students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement.

Michael Van Asten, a 1975 graduate of St. Norbert and vice chairman of the St. Norbert College Board of Trustees, made the generous gift to his alma mater. He is the owner and operator of Liberty Hall, the popular banquet and conference facility located in Kimberly, Wis.

Van Asten has a 35-year track record as a successful businessman and entrepreneur. After graduating from St. Norbert College with a degree in business, he received an MBA from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He established Liberty Hall in 1987, and he has gone on to own and develop supermarkets, restaurants and conference facilities. He is a managing partner in Hilton Hotels and has an ownership stake in six Hilton properties around the United States.

The larger portion of the donation, $1 million, is making possible the Michael Van Asten Auditorium, one of the primary teaching spaces in the state-of-the-art Gehl-Mulva Science Center.

The remaining $750,000 will be used to establish the Van Asten Fellows program. This will provide financial support to students who are in their junior and senior years at St. Norbert and who have been exceptional academic achievers.

"We are thrilled to receive such generous gifts from Mike," said St. Norbert President Thomas Kunkel. "The support for the auditorium was central to the realization of the science building, which has already been such a transformational development for St. Norbert College. And we are especially thankful for the creation of the Van Asten Fellows program. We don't have many scholarships earmarked for our upper-class students, and it's wonderful to see their academic accomplishments rewarded ­-- and at a time in their college careers when they need it most."

Van Asten said there are many reasons behind his gift -- not least being that it's more important than ever that we "invest" in a well-educated and motivated workforce.

"The knowledge I gained from a St. Norbert liberal arts education has continually enriched my life and well-being," he said. "St. Norbert faculty and staff focus intentionally to connect a student's liberal arts education with numerous learning experiences outside the classroom -- to better prepare each graduate for a rewarding life beyond college."

Besides that, he added, "college scholarships that support and encourage exemplary young leaders are critical to our nation's continued success and security."

Van Asten joined the St. Norbert College board of trustees in 2000 and is the longtime chair of its Student Affairs Committee. He was elected vice chair of the
board in 2012. He also has served as co-chair of the college's Campaign St. Norbert: Full Ahead, which has exceeded its ambitious goals.

In addition to his successful business record, Van Asten has been repeatedly recognized for his commitment to the Fox Valley region and for his leadership in the hospitality industry. For instance, he has been a key leader in the campaign to build Little Chute's new downtown windmill and visitor's center, and he is the chair of the advisory board of the Salvation Army Fox Cities. He serves on various other boards, including that of Bellin College, and he is past president of the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau. Recently he joined the board of the Milwaukee Public Museum -- its first appointee from outside Milwaukee County.

Among his numerous honors, Mike has twice won the Good Neighbor Award from the National Restaurant Association and the Compassion in Action Award from the Salvation Army.