ST. PAUL, Minn. — The University of St. Thomas has received a $50 million donation for undergraduate student scholarships from a Minnesota philanthropy started by one of its alumni.

St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan told the Star Tribune that real estate developer Gerald Rauenhorst’s gift through the GHR Foundation is the largest ever given to a Minnesota college or university for scholarships. Rauenhorst died in 2014 and much of his personal fortune went to the foundation.

The donation kicks off the university’s push to raise $200 million for scholarships, Sullivan said.

“Reducing student debt is a priority for St. Thomas,” Sullivan said. “St. Thomas does not want cost to be a barrier for students interested in getting an education at our university. That is why generating support for financial aid is a top fundraising priority.”

Nearly all of the first-year students at St. Thomas used financial aid this year to help cover the private Catholic university’s $40,000 annual tuition.

Rauenhorst’s donation will be placed in an endowment. A committee of St. Thomas faculty will choose 15 business students each year to receive full, four-year scholarships from the fund. The committee will consider grade-point averages, ACT scores, essays and interviews.

The first class of GHR Fellows will begin in fall 2019.

The fellows program aims to attract the brightest young business talent from around the U.S., Sullivan said.

“We expect these students to develop into outstanding leaders and we expect them to be community-engaged,” she said.

Fellows will received personalized career coaching, have access to Twin Cities business and university leaders and receive a fully paid semester studying abroad.


Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com