Trustee challenge pushes Opening Doors Campaign to finish


As the Opening Doors Campaign approaches an end in October 2012, St. Thomas draws closer to its goal of $500 million.

The campaign, which was announced in 2007, started to raise funds for major improvements to the university’s academics, buildings, and other programs, and has raised a total of about $461 million.

“We’re $39 million away from the goal,” Mark Dienhart, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said. “The difference now is that the trustees, through donations they themselves made, have created a $20 million trustee challenge match.”

In October, the members of the Board of Trustees announced the fund.

“Between the October meeting and just recently within the last couple of weeks, there were those of us from the institution approaching trustees seeing if they wanted to contribute and that’s what got us to the $20 million,” Dienhart said.

Since December, $10 million more has been raised. Dienhart said he attributes some of this to the challenge match.

“These challenge matches we’ve found are pretty effective with St. Thomas donors,” Dienhart said. “We’ve seen people who are coming forward who have heard about it and might not otherwise have given right now, but they realized that they can double the size of the gift by giving right now.”

Junior Linda Thomas hopes the donors are giving for the right reasons.

“I guess the challenge has to do more with the status that one achieves and it brings up the question as to the intention behind it,” Thomas said. “Are you just giving money just to fulfill some challenge or are you giving money from the heart?”

Dienhart said donors give during the challenge match because they see the benefit.

“Basically the match is saying to someone who is thinking about giving money to St. Thomas, that if you do that there is $20 million sitting out there right now that you can get a match for the gift you gave,” Dienhart said. “So, if you wanted to start a scholarship and you had $25,000, you could by the end have a $50,000 scholarship by making the gift during this period of time.”

Freshman Kaitlin Tomsche said the challenge match is a good idea to raise money.

“I think it is a way to motivate people to get anything done. So if we challenge them they’re more likely to respond,” Tomsche said.

The Opening Doors Campaign will end on October 17, 2012, but Dienhart said he is confident that St. Thomas will reach the $500 million goal.

Thomas agrees that it will not be difficult to raise the $39 million over the next five months.

“They’re definitely a lot of alumni who are very wealthy and feel like it’s their duty to give back to the school; therefore, there will be no problem in fulfilling that quota,” Thomas said.

Olivia Detweiler can be reached at