MINNEAPOLIS/WINONA, Minn. — The Steve and Barb Slaggie family has long believed in the value of Catholic education and the importance of Saint Mary’s University within the Winona community. Their recent $10 million gift commitment is testimony to this belief and will provide Saint Mary’s with a remarkable transformational gift for generations.
The Slaggie Family Foundation – which is overseen by Stephen and Barbara Slaggie – announced a planned $10 million gift to Saint Mary’s, which will be directed toward the future of Saint Mary’s and innovation. In addition to their parents, the four Slaggie children supported this commitment, including son Michael B’93, a Saint Mary’s alumnus.
The Slaggie family is well-known in southeast Minnesota. Steve was one of the founders of Fastenal, a global industrial supply company, headquartered in Winona.
Ever committed to their community and region, they are active champions for Catholic education, the arts, and humanitarian causes. They have deep and long relationships with Cotter Schools, Mayo Clinic, Saint John’s University, and Saint Mary’s. The family’s deep ties with Saint Mary’s date back to the 1950s, including three generations that have served on boards for the institution. With previous financial support of Saint Mary’s students given through Countdown to College and the First Generation Initiative (FGI), they also helped to establish the Jul Gernes (B ’61) Pool, in memory of Barb and Steve’s brother-in-law.
“As well-established members of this community, it is incredibly encouraging to me and so many at the university that the Slaggie’s have chosen to assist us in this way. Their support demonstrates that they view Saint Mary’s as a pillar in the Winona area and beyond. They want us to stay and thrive, and they understand how critical we are to the local community. Barb and Steve believe that Saint Mary’s has what it takes to deliver on an excellent faith-based education. It is even more heartening to be recipients of their generosity since they knew we had to make difficult decisions over the last few years. Their gift is an affirmation of the direction we have moved in,” said the Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary’s. “I view the Slaggies as dear friends and humble servant leaders who continue to see the importance of the mission and vision of Saint Mary’s. Simply put, their generous philanthropic gift is a blessing, as are they.”
“Knowing many, including our son and my siblings, who have attended Saint Mary’s, we know the knowledge and strong leadership they foster in their students. We are galvanized by the change Saint Mary’s students and alumni are able to make, and want to see that continue through our gift,” said Steve Slaggie.
Along with a son who graduated from the university, Steve Slaggie’s two brothers, Tom and Michael Slaggie B’60, attended Saint Mary’s. Tom Slaggie was expected to be a member of the Class of ’58, but received an appointment to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.
“There is no question of my fond memories, and how I was shaped during my time at Saint Mary’s,” said son, Michael, B’93. “Our family deeply believes in the importance of the Lasallian Catholic experience at this university, and we are inspired by the students we continue to meet – really, the future leaders of our country that will need strong character and virtue for the challenges they will encounter. It has been reassuring to get to know Father Burns during challenging times to help clarify the critical academic changes that were made at the university.”
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. With this most recent gift, the university has raised approximately $34 million on the $100 million goal.
“We continue to be humbled and inspired by the generosity of benefactors who have given to our university. Each person who gives demonstrates his or her commitment to who we are as a university and who we are becoming. These gifts continue to impact our graduates as they enter the workforce with the valuable blend of character education, real-world preparation, hands-on learning, and ethical leadership skills,” said the Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D. “This remarkable gift by the Slaggie’s, our friends and unwavering supporters, is yet another indication of their devotion to their Catholic faith and ours. It stands as a tribute to Saint Mary’s and a challenge for others to do likewise, according to their ability. It reaffirms the Christ-like vision we share in and is the direction we have set for our hope filled future.”