Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is on a fund-raising roll.
The private, four-year Catholic university in Winona just announced that it had received a new $4 million gift commitment from Betty Kabara, a former SMU trustee and benefactor of the school.
That brings to $35 million SMU has raised within the last four months in an “unprecedented” wave of philanthropic support for the university,” officials said. It comes after an academic and strategic restructuring that led to the phasing out of a number of liberal art majors.
The first major donation came in February when an anonymous donor bequeathed $25 million to the university — the largest donation in the school’s history — to be directed to the university’s endowment.
Two months later, SMU received a $4.5 million gift from another anonymous donor, this one to help complete fundraising efforts for a $16 million renovation of Aquinas Hall.
College officials say the $4 million donation will be used to support the mission of SMU’s Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, which was founded by her and her late husband, Dr. Jon Kabara in 2006. Kabara graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1948.
Kabara was founder of Med-Chem Labs, a nutritional supplement manufacturing company.
“It was his goal to show young people how to create, run and thrive at their own business — to give entrepreneurs of the future the tools to succeed,” the university statement said.
“One of the first things my husband wanted me to see before we got married was the Saint Mary’s campus,” Betty Kabara said. “He shared that it was one of the best times of his life, and I think so many students come away from there feeling that way.”
Saint Mary’s President James Burns called the recent donation further affirmation of the direction the school has set.
“I know what they have given will continue to multiply, like a ripple effect, in the same manner as our other recent gifts,” Burns said. “The gifts continue to impact our graduates as they work for the common good — entering the workforce with the valuable blend of character education, real-world preparation, hands-on learning, and ethical leadership skills.”
Officials say the $25 million donation was made to inspire others to support SMU financially. The recent gift will go toward a $100 million challenge set earlier this year by $25 million gift giver.
Founded in 1912, SMU has an undergraduate enrollment of 800 students and enrolls nearly 4,100 students in undergraduate and graduate programs on campuses in Minneapolis, Rochester, Winona and online.