MINNEAPOLIS/WINONA, Minn. — With a recent $4 million estate gift commitment, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota has raised close to $35 million in transformational gifts during the past four months – an unprecedented level of philanthropic support shown for the university in that amount of time.
Betty Kabara, a former trustee and generous longtime benefactor of Saint Mary’s, has made an estate gift of $4 million to further the mission of the university’s Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, founded by her and her husband, the late Dr. Jon Kabara B’48, in 2006.
The Kabaras have devoted their lives to supporting and inspiring the next generation of ethical leaders. Dr. Jon Kabara of Galena, Ill., founder of Med-Chem Labs, was known worldwide in the medical community for his breakthrough research. It was his goal to show young people how to create, run, and thrive at their own businesses — to give entrepreneurs of the future the tools to succeed.
After his passing, Betty Kabara has continued to champion their mutual passion for advancements in research and education. Currently Med-Chem Labs’ president and CEO, she shared her more than 50 years of business acumen as trustee of Saint Mary’s from 2012-2017. The Kabaras founded Gundersen Health System Kabara Cancer Research, which provides an internship experience for a Saint Mary’s student each summer. They also previously made a $1.5 million gift in 2016 to enhance science and business at Saint Mary’s.
“One of the first things my husband wanted me to see before we got married was the Saint Mary’s campus. He shared that it was one of the best times of his life, and I think so many students come away from there feeling that way,” she said. “Jon knew our personal efforts will impact the leaders for the next generation. We believe the Lasallian Catholic experience at this university is very important. We have always believed tomorrow’s leaders of our country and our world need strong character and virtue to form a truly peaceful global economy.”
“We continue to be humbled and inspired by the generosity of benefactors who have given to our university, especially in recent months. This remarkable gift by the Kabaras is yet another indication of their dedication and devotion to Saint Mary’s, our mission and vision.” said the Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., Saint Mary’s president. “We are incredibly grateful to both Betty and Jon for all they have done, and continue to do, for our students and the university as a whole. Their gift is an affirmation of the direction we have set. I know what they have given will continue to multiply, like a ripple effect, in the same manner as our other recent gifts. These gifts continue to impact our graduates as they work for the common good — entering the workforce with the valuable blend of character education, real-world preparation, hands-on learning, and ethical leadership skills.”
This generous gift will be allocated toward a $100 million challenge set earlier this year by an anonymous benefactor. The benefactor and his family made a $25 million commitment, the largest in Saint Mary’s history, to inspire others to step forward to support the university and to position it for a strong and successful future.