Capital campaign doubles number of endowed scholarships


The Opening Doors Campaign will continue to impact St. Thomas students with 312 new endowed scholarships that will last for the university’s lifetime, more than double the number of endowed scholarships St. Thomas has had in the university’s history.

Steve Hoeppner, executive director of development, said St. Thomas had less than 300 endowed scholarships before the capital campaign was made public in 2007. The 309 new endowed scholarships were announced at the end of the campaign, however Hoeppner said the numbers are still being sorted out, and now 312 new endowed scholarships are being established.

“Not all of (the endowed scholarships) are fully funded yet. As part of the capital campaign people could pledge to make their gift over a number of years,” Hoeppner said. “Lots of people said ‘I can give $5,000 for five years.’”

Scholarship matching contributed to the increase in endowed scholarships. A minimum of $50,000 is required to set up a new endowed scholarship, but Hoeppner said with scholarship matching, a donor could give $25,000 and then have $25,000 matched by another donor and combine to make $50,000 for a new endowed scholarship.

While Hoeppner said the new endowed scholarships may not have an immediate impact, the scholarships will generate more income and will be put toward helping students pay for their tuition for as long as St. Thomas exists.

“All that money doesn’t just come in and go out immediately,” Hoeppner said. “Over time, the amount of money that is available just kind of ratchets up.”

Hoeppner said there is a specific process for establishing the endowed scholarship starting with setting up a fund. The fund starts with nothing unless the university is given a full $25,000 or $50,000 right away, which Hoeppner said “happens from time to time.”

More commonly, donors will take one to five years to pay an endowed scholarship. St. Thomas then invests that money, and then the return that is made off of the investment is moved to a ‘spending account’, which is then poured into a student’s scholarship.

“To assure that that money is going to be here forever, each year we end up taking 4 percent, which is the spending amount, off of each of those accounts,” Hoeppner said. “So for a $50,000 endowment, you would get, generally speaking, a $2,000 scholarship out of that.”

Freshman Mike Guggenbuehl said the scholarships St. Thomas offers made a huge impact on his college career.

“The main reason I’m here is because I got a good scholarship,” Guggenbuehl said.

The Opening Doors Campaign raised more than $142 million in financial aid and scholarships, and while not all of the money will go toward endowed scholarships, Hoeppner said he looks forward to seeing the amount of financial help offered to students “grow tremendously over time.”

Sophomore Kathleen Connolly said she is glad money raised through the Opening Doors Campaign will continue to help students.

“It’s a great opportunity for (students) to get more financial aid,” Connolly said. “We hear about how all this money is raised, but we kind of wonder where all that money is going.”

Hoeppner said while the financial aid goals for the capital campaign were exceeded, he sees no end to raising money for students in the form of endowed scholarships.

“Until every student’s financial need is met, we’re not finished raising money for endowed scholarships,” Hoeppner said.

Gabrielle Martinson can be reached at