It takes little effort to exceed expectations. One of the greatest ways to advance the mission at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University is to seek out exceptional high school individuals, share your CSB/SJU experiences and work with them to one day become Bennies and Johnnies.
An alum who does this exceptionally well is Bob Loonan ’83. He graduated with a degree in elementary education from Saint John’s, where at the time he said the female/male ratio in elementary education was 24-to-1.
Bob played two years of football for Hall of Fame coach John Gagliardi as a wide receiver. He was a four-year hurdler for track coach Tim Miles.
“My first year in track at SJU was Tim Miles first year as head coach,” said Bob, who is a successful agent with American Family Insurance in Shakopee and teaches continuing-education classes to real estate and insurance agents, allowing these individuals to keep their licensures up to date.
Bob has been on the J-Club Board for the past 15-20 years. His father, Jiggs Loonan, was an alum (Class of ’53), and a member of the baseball team. Bob and his wife, Denise (CSB ‘84), sent all their children, Becky ’07, Ben ’09, Tommy ’11 and John ’13 to attended CSB/SJU.
“I had important experiences at Saint John’s. I just grew up so much while I was there, and now I want to be others’ SJU/CSB story” Bob said.
“I found college to be a transformative experience, and my kids had a great college experience as well. I want others to have and gain what the Loonans have gained from a CSB/SJU college experience.”
Bob said he has recruited over 50 students to CSB/SJU. Only two of the prospects he has gone after declined to be Bennies or Johnnies.
“My SJU story is all about people – different types of people,” he said. “I was from a small town (Easton, Minn.), and SJU immediately opened my eyes to a broader world.
“One day, a long-monk, the late, great economist, Fr. Martin Schirber, knocked on my dorm room door and asked if I was the young Mr. Loonan. Nervously, I said, ‘Yes.’ He told me, “I am an old friend of your father.”
“We went for what was our first of many weekly walks around campus,” Bob said. “Fr. Martin taught me about this place. Now when I am touring prospective students, I hear Fr. Martin talking through me about the details of the campus.”
Bob said his goal for students he recruits is that they see this is a place of people just like them and they can be a piece of the fabric.
“Yes, SJU has a beautiful campus and tremendous facilities,” he said, “but that isn’t what the place is about. It has always been about the people.”
Bob asks kids to wear a CSB or SJU shirt to any public event; it’s like a magnet in a room full of nails. Johnnies and Bennies flock to them to share their CSB/SJU experiences.
“Those shirts are very effective,” he said.
Bob contributes financially to CSB/SJU, helping to make education affordable for students with financial need. When he can, he helps to directly offset that need.
“When I pay for quality, I only cry once,” Bob said of his giving process. “Then I see the difference it makes in the life of that youngster, and it feels great. It matters.”
There are many ways for our alums to help CSB/SJU. One of the best is to share your college experience with prospective students.
You can help our next generation of Johnnies gain the CSB/SJU experience. And like Bob Loonan, you will feel great about it.