University of St. Thomas receives $50 million gift

| November 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Amy Rauenhorst Goldman, right, CEO of the GHR Foundation, talks with Julie Sullivan, president of the University of St. Thomas, Nov. 16 at an event announcing the GHR Foundation’s $50 million gift to St. Thomas. Courtesy Mike Ekern, University of St. Thomas

Future business students at the University of St. Thomas will benefit from a $50 million gift to the institution from the GHR Foundation, which was announced Nov. 16 at a gathering that featured remarks by President Julie Sullivan and a student recipient.

The money will be put into an endowment and will fund scholarships for business students who are accepted into the GHR Fellows program. Starting in 2019, 15 students will be selected annually to receive a full, four-year scholarship plus other supports designed to help them succeed in business after they graduate.

According to St. Thomas, the sum is the largest endowed scholarship for the school and the largest scholarship gift for any college or university in Minnesota history.

The Minneapolis-based foundation was created by Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst, who started and ran the Opus Group before dying in 2014 and 2010, respectively. Their youngest daughter, Amy Rauenhorst Goldman, is the foundation’s CEO, and is happy to see her parents’ legacy continue. Gerald is an alumnus of St. Thomas, and both Gerald and Henrietta supported Catholic education throughout their lives.

“They firmly believed that Catholic education was what changed their lives,” Goldman said. “They were both first-generation college students, and they really committed so much of their work, when they were on the earth, to Catholic education. And, I’m just so grateful that they left this legacy of the foundation so that we can continue that support.”

The gift kicked off a campaign to raise $200 million in scholarship money over the next eight years, a plan that was announced along with the $50 million gift. Such a campaign is vital to helping students in today’s economy afford a college education, Sullivan said.

“With the cost of higher education and student debt issues, it’s more and more difficult to attract the best students…  [and] to make this St. Thomas education available for all,” she said. “I think what this gift does is ensures that, for the next 100 years, we will continue to produce outstanding business leaders who are ethically minded, entrepreneurial and innovative, and committed to their communities. And, we’ll produce those business leaders for Minnesota and for the world.”

About $2 million a year will be used to fund the GHR Fellows’ education, with the rest of the money remaining in the fund for future students. The idea is to build a community of business leaders who will take their Catholic values into the marketplace and lead with their faith.

“I think it will attract fabulous students from Minnesota and far beyond,” Sullivan said. “And, many of those students will stay here [in Minnesota] and work. We often find that when students come here from elsewhere or come here from the state of Minnesota, a large proportion of our graduates become the business leaders in Minnesota after they graduate. So, I think it will have a profound impact.”

The idea for a fellows program was a year in the making, Goldman said, and it seemed like something her parents would support.

“I’ve had many of my parents’ friends come up and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if they could be here?’” Goldman said. “I wish they were still here, but I also know that they are involved, with their spirit and their inspiration. I’m grateful for their example of giving. For them, giving came first. It wasn’t second or third, it was always first. I truly hope that their story and this gift to St. Thomas and the work of the foundation inspires all of us to follow that example.”

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