By Catholic Messenger Staff
DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University concluded its “Building Our Future” campaign last week and announced it exceeded its $18.5 million goal by $1.2 million. The capital campaign’s centerpiece — a new Wellness and Recreation Center — was dedicated last year. The campaign also included improvements to the St. Vincent’s Athletic Complex.
A celebration of the campaign’s conclusion took place Aug. 15 in the lobby of the Wellness and Recreation Center. St. Ambrose University Marching Band members and cheerleaders welcomed guests, many of whom made it possible for the campaign to generate $19.739 million.
Bishop Thomas Zinkula, who chairs the university’s board of trustees, gave the opening prayer. Offering remarks about the significance of the campaign were St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ; Brian Lemek, campaign co-chair; and Emily Studt, president of the Student Government Association.
Additional money raised in the course of the campaign for the university’s endowment totaled $5.069 million. An additional $4.859 million will come from estate planning. In all, 27 new endowed scholarships were added, with 10 additional endowed scholarships funded through future estate plans.
The crown jewel — the 80,000-square-foot Wellness and Recreation Center — is designed to serve the general fitness and recreational needs of all SAU students, faculty and staff. It also provides practice and competition space for hundreds of Fighting Bees athletes and is the academic home of the Kinesiology Department.
“The close of this hugely successful campaign marks a historic moment for St. Ambrose University,” Sr. Lescinski said. “I want to personally commend volunteer co-chairs Mike and Barb (Bush) Johnson and Brian and Beth (Figge) Lemek for their generous leadership in this effort.”
She also expressed gratitude to Jim Stangle, vice president for advancement, and Sally Crino, associate vice president and Building Our Future campaign director, “for their outstanding work in guiding this campaign. We began this capital campaign with the understanding that an entirely new generation of supporters and alumni needed to be engaged if we were going to be successful. The fact that Jim, Sally and their team were able to meet that challenge so successfully truly helps to ensure the future of St. Ambrose University.”
Sr. Lescinski praised the volunteer co-chairs for providing a “new generation of St. Ambrose philanthropic and volunteer leadership, while honoring their families’ history of engagement with our university.”
Stangle noted that many younger alumni responded to a call, first, to serve their alma mater in various volunteer capacities. “They loved their Ambrose experience and we created an opportunity for them to volunteer at the university.” That involvement, in turn, inspired the alumni to contribute to the capital campaign.
“When they see the results of their work, it inspires them,” Mike Johnson said. Take for example, Aaron Quick, a St. Louis entrepreneur who graduated from St. Ambrose University in 1996. He joined the Presidents Advisory Council and co-founded an alumni mentoring program. “I believe in the culture and values of St. Ambrose University,” he said.