For the Hill and Beyond: The Campaign for St. Olaf Comes to an Extraordinary End
St. Olaf College has held a special place in the hearts, minds, and spirits of Oles for nearly 150 years. Today, thanks to everyone who gave through the For the Hill and Beyond campaign with its focus on students and core aspects of a St. Olaf education, the college will thrive well into the future.
On May 31, 2020, St. Olaf brought the campaign to a close. Over the course of the campaign, 25,485 donors responded generously, giving an incredible $252,242,402 to create transformative impact for current and future Oles. This was far beyond the $200 million goal, with 9,578 donors making their first gifts to the college.
The campaign sought to establish enduring support for key priorities that reflect the promises St. Olaf has long made to students: to challenge them academically, to meet their financial need, to strengthen their community, to help them find their purpose, and to prepare them for lives that are meaningful, productive, and fulfilling.
St. Olaf is deeply committed to making the college equitable, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of every Ole seeking a St. Olaf education, and to supporting the hopes, passions, identities, and experiences that each student brings to the Hill.
Gifts made through For the Hill and Beyond have increased financial aid and access, and added more more high-impact learning opportunities. Three vital new centers for engagement have been established, strengthening the campus community through student support and engagement.
St. Olaf students are seekers, solvers, uniters, and the creators of tomorrow. Today, because of every gift given, students have even more opportunities to discover who they are and how they can make a difference — on the Hill, in their communities, in their countries, and in the world.
Advancing High-Impact Learning — $44.93 million
St. Olaf has long excelled in experiential learning practices. Through their support, donors have helped expand the impact that these opportunities provide, both on and off campus. Students with diverse interests and backgrounds benefit from academic and professional internships, faculty-mentored research, interdisciplinary learning communities, and academic innovation, all of which increase the depth and breadth of their St. Olaf education.
Faculty-mentored research helps Oles gain the skills needed to excel as graduate students and professionals working at the leading edge of discovery. Gifts to the campaign increased student research supported by endowed funding by 138 percent and added more funding with annual gifts.
International and Off-Campus Study
Gifts in support of off-campus study ensure that it remains a strong cornerstone of a St. Olaf education by lowering costs that students pay and creating new program models. Financial aid for international and off-campus study has increased 239.5 percent; nearly five times as many students now receive support, and 73.1 percent study off-campus before graduation.
The Piper Center for Vocation and Career
The Piper Center for Vocation and Career was launched during the campaign; additional gifts have enhanced the programming it provides. The Piper Center provides one-on-one career advising and coaching, internship funding, cohort programs, entrepreneurial programs, venture support, and industry-centered networking opportunities. Awards now total $670,000 annually for internships, and $69,662 for ventures.
Academic Support Services
Campaign gifts helped launch an integrated suite of academic support services for all students. Greater support is given to those who need it, while more Oles benefit from programs across academic subjects, abilities, and learning modes, with 89 percent of students using these services at least once during their time on the Hill.
St. Olaf’s Conversation programs take students on intellectual journeys through influential texts and ideas that shape our past and guide our future. The college’s signature Great Conversation program was given additional support, and the new Public Affairs Conversation was launched.
Support from the campaign also resulted in exciting academic innovation. Donors endowed five faculty chairs — in environmental science, music, theater, and two in economics — and created funding support for faculty and course development, innovation, and research. Campaign gifts enabled upgrades to Holland Hall, a new Department of Nursing wing, and other key learning spaces.
Enhancing Access and Affordability — $74.60 million
St. Olaf has deepened its commitment to meet the demonstrated financial need of every admitted student, even as those needs change. Campaign gifts greatly increased aid and access for every student who desires a St. Olaf education. Aid funded by endowed funds and annual gifts has increased by 103.7 percent. Currently, the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting financial environment continues to greatly impact a number of Ole families. Industries employing students and young alumni are among those hit the hardest during the pandemic. The financial and programmatic resources added by campaign gifts are helping Oles and their families.
Year after year, endowed scholarships enable students to better afford a St. Olaf education. Campaign gifts have resulted in 599 new or enhanced endowed scholarship funds. Opportunity funds increase equitable access to experiential learning opportunities for under-resourced students. Currently 12 new opportunity funds award $276,659 to Oles annually.
Strengthening Community — $44.67 million
Campaign funds have provided new resources for student life, equity, inclusion, advocacy, ministry, service groups, student organizations, and enhanced break programming for Oles on campus. This includes support and programming for students disadvantaged by income, access, and/or opportunity including the St. Olaf Emergency Fund which helps Oles facing unexpected hardships.
The Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion fosters an inclusive environment across the intersections of race and identity and includes campus-wide initiatives and programs for LGBTQIA+, international, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color) students.
The Institute for Freedom and Community offers guest speakers, panels, and workshops that foster constructive dialogue among those with differing values and contending points of view on important social and political issues.
The Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community engages people of all backgrounds and beliefs in a deep exploration of core commitments and life choices in ways that foster an inclusive community.
Athletic competition and physical fitness are integral to a well-rounded St. Olaf education. Campaign funds now strengthen coaching, staffing, and team travel, and students benefit from enhancements to six athletic facilities. The St. Olaf Ice Arena provides home ice. Synthetic turf was added to Rolf Mellby Field (soccer) and Klein Field (football). Team and training spaces were updated inside Tom Porter Hall, Tostrud Center, and Skoglund Athletic Center.
Student-musicians in St. Olaf’s ambassador ensembles — the St. Olaf Band, St. Olaf Choir, and St. Olaf Orchestra — bring their gifts of music to appreciative audiences around the world. For many of these students, these international tours may be their first — and only — opportunity to travel abroad. Oles can now participate in international tours at no additional cost thanks to campaign giving. Domestic travel expenses, other music ensembles, and music lessons for under-resourced students are also supported by campaign giving.
Sustaining the Mission — $88.04 million
St. Olaf College challenges students to excel in the liberal arts, examine faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation in an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by Lutheran tradition. — The St. Olaf Mission, approved by the St. Olaf Board of Regents, May 2016
St. Olaf College’s tradition of excellence and its mission — the promise made to every student and, by extension, to every life each student will touch after graduation — has been sustained well into the future. Each gift through For the Hill and Beyond has deepened core educational commitments and added to every opportunity a St. Olaf education provides.
The St. Olaf Fund
Donors gave $34.7 million through the St. Olaf Fund to support Oles and college operations across financial aid, academic and experiential learning, and the community. This open support provides the flexibility and resilience needed to respond to emerging needs, and ensures that a St. Olaf education remains meaningful and achievable.
The St. Olaf Endowment
More than $53.35 million was invested in the St. Olaf Endowment to support the college’s general operations. Over time, these investments provide increasing returns and revenue that supports teaching and learning on the Hill. There has been a 60.6 percent increase in revenue from endowed funds in St. Olaf’s operating budget, and a 34 percent increase in endowment value (2013: $379,501,188; 2020: $508,000,417).