Many of you know that the Saint Mary’s University Board of Trustees had its fall meeting this past Thursday and Friday (Oct 12 and 13) on our Winona campus. Many of the Trustees are graduates of the College, as are some of their spouses, children, and now grandkids! We all marveled at how beautiful Winona and our campus are during autumn.
I am writing this note to share with the entire Saint Mary’s community the Board’s sincere and profound gratitude for all you have done and continue to do to fulfill our educational mission, on all our campuses and online.
The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging for all of us. As you might recall, the Board of Trustees mandated Father Burns to create and carry out a plan to help ensure Saint Mary’s could continue its mission for decades to come. That called for many very difficult decisions with unavoidable and admittedly painful outcomes across the university that affected both people and programs. Most of that was directed at the College level, though previous significant adjustments had been made at the graduate level before that. I know he is now working with his team to further explore ways to streamline processes and develop a new way to generate greater interest and increased student numbers in the Graduate Programs, applying some of what we learned at the college to the Minneapolis environment, because this new direction is working!
Now, nearly a year and a half later, we can be grateful and relatively sure that we have turned several necessary corners. Happily, we can celebrate welcoming more than 300 new students (first-year students, transfers, and international) to the College. This is a higher number than we have had for a number of years and nearly 25% above what we had cautiously budgeted. With this news to buoy us, and lessons learned as I said previously, we are in the midst of a similar effort to “turn around” enrollments (head-counts and credit-counts) of our graduate, bachelor completion, and online programs.
Another very positive indicator of our efforts over the past 12 months is our record-setting fund-raising efforts in virtually every category: annual fund, major gifts, pledged commitments, estate gifts, and so on (the most in a single year ever $47 million). We are well on our way to meeting the $25 million dollar challenge to raise (in addition) $100 million. Clearly, people believe in what we are doing. People believe in what YOU are doing.
In the name of the Trustees and all of our past, current, and future students, I want to offer a sincere and profound thank you to all of you for all you have done to support these efforts and carry out our Lasallian Catholic educational mission.
Mr. Terrance Russell, B’76
Chair, Board of Trustees