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Tom Kunkel
Excellence on the move
President Tom Kunkel

If you were at our Commencement ceremony on that festive Sunday last May, you may have noticed many of our graduates wearing a new emblem on their robes. The badge read “Senior Pledge 2011.”

This symbol meant these graduates had committed to give the college a donation for each of the next five years. The pledges are modest – most are for $10 a year. The amount pledged wasn’t the point, however; the commitment was.

In fact, that’s why we started the Senior Class Pledge program in the first place, and we were delighted that 124 students, or about one-fourth of the total class, chose to be involved.

Philanthropic support is the backbone of any private college, and alumni giving is the backbone of any college’s philanthropic regimen. That’s why it’s so important to try to get alumni committed, and the sooner the better. The amount they give will grow over time, as their careers develop and their incomes burgeon. But we want to instill in them early the habit of giving back. We often remind our students that they are part of a continuum – they were able to attend St. Norbert in large part because of the generosity of those who came before them, and because of their help many more will be able to attend in the future.

Alumni giving is also important because it’s one of the factors U.S. News & World Report uses in determining where colleges rank nationally. Alumni giving is considered a kind of proxy for alumni loyalty in general. The best, most established private colleges have annual alumni-giving rates that can exceed 40, or even 50, percent. At St. Norbert we are approaching the more typical 20 percent, although we have been steadily moving the needle in the right direction.

And it all starts with young alums, because frankly there are more and more of them out there - roughly 500 new graduates each year, joining our base. Because of the new Senior Class Pledge program, this year’s graduates committed to give at more than twice the rate of the 2010 class. We also want to send out a big “thanks” to trustee Miriam Mulva ’69 and her husband, Jim, for the important role they’re playing in this effort. The Mulvas are the epitome of enlightened philanthropy – you’ll recall their lead gift of $10 million several years ago to underwrite our new library. And this year they agreed to match each new graduate’s pledge – and those of other recent graduates, dating back to 2001 – with a gift of $50. Talk about sweetening the pot!

As you know, the fall issue of St. Norbert College Magazine is where we particularly recognize our many friends and donors, and what their generosity has meant to us.

What it meant in the past 12 months is fairly easy to summarize: This was quite likely the best year in the history of St. Norbert College.

Generous friends like you donated more than $17 million to the college last year, easily shattering the previous St. Norbert record. The largest of these gifts went to underwrite some of our most conspicuous and needed campus projects: the current expansion and renovation of the cafeteria and union complex into Michels Commons; the new Ariens Family Welcome Center; and completion of the locker room at Donald J. Schneider Stadium. But as always, every gift mattered, and had an impact, whether it funded scholarships, academic programs, athletics or worthy community outreach like the CEO Breakfast Series or the Girls Leadership and Development (GLAD) camp.

We had a record enrollment of 2,179 undergraduate students, and the record freshman class had the highest collective ACT scores in school history – the highest GPAs, too.

With talented new additions, our faculty ranks are stronger than ever, whether you’re talking about classroom instruction, undergraduate research, mentoring, service-learning, or the production of research and scholarship that matters.

We made dramatic jumps in both the U.S. News & World Report and Forbes national rankings of colleges and universities – and our Forbes ranking for 2012 has since jumped a further 68 places.

Then there was that men’s hockey Division III national championship – our second in four years! – and the stellar performances by many, many other Green Knight teams.

Because of your confidence and your generosity, the momentum at St. Norbert College continues to be brisk. It will be no small feat for us to top last year’s performance in 2011-12, but with your support – big and small, from alumni old and new – we know we will.

Mag cover

Web extra

Look here for web-exclusive content that expands on topics presented in the current issue
of St. Norbert College Magazine.

GallerySNC Day
It’s our annual fall open house, and a chance to share our cherished tradition of radical hospitality.

VideoGetting in the game
Photographer Evan Siegle says that shooting sports is about preparation, timing – and a little good luck.

VideoSomewhere in time
A forgotten time capsule, rediscovered, reveals what was top-of-mind at St. Norbert College half a century ago.

VideoA warm welcome
Tour the new building that is  transforming the arrival experience for our visitors.

VideoThe move-in
Join Haley Bass ’15 on her very first day of college, as the first-year and her family set up her room in Madelaine/Lorraine.

VideoTeach me your ways
Retired educator the Rev. Gery Meehan, O.Praem., ’57 remembers Abbot Bernard Pennings – founder of both abbey and college.

VideoMemories you can touch
A First Communion dress, a family drawing and an early biography of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt – all speak to a life full of meaning.

VideoReady for primetime
Sir Norby Knight stars in promo spots for live TV broadcasts of Green Knight athletic events – and more.

Text extraAlumni Award Winners 2011
Each year the college is privileged to honor a few among its many outstanding alumni. Meet this year’s winners, recognized at a celebratory dinner in October.

Story ideas? Your ideas for future magazine stories are most welcome. Write to the editor with any suggestions or comments.

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