For years the Class of ’64 at Saint John’s University has styled itself as “The Greatest Class Ever,” and three years ago three members of that class set out to put their money where there mouths were. John Chromy, Michael Healy and Eugene Weber set as a goal the creation of a class-wide scholarship to which all members of their class could contribute. These three champions had a vision, which they then mobilized around their class reunion; and the result is an impressive class scholarship endowment.
First they had to determine the focus of the scholarship. Should it benefit science majors or students from Minnesota or sons of alumni? There was a lot of discussion as they sorted through the various options with classmates, but these first three options failed to make the cut. The final language that they did settle on specified only that the scholarship would be open to students in any academic major. They also specified that the fund should benefit “students who demonstrate significant financial need.” This language, they felt, would help Saint John’s to maintain its long-standing tradition of educating those who come from underserved communities.
The class committee then went on to require that recipients attain at least a 2.5 GPA (C+) average; and the scholarship is renewable provided that the student improves on that to 2.75 (B-.) They added this to encourage recipients to strive for greater achievement over time. Finally, they added one clause, specifying that “the individual scholarship award should cover approximately 10% of the cost of attending Saint John’s.” This would permit the scholarship to make a meaningful difference for one student while at the same time allowing the fund to reach more students as it grows.
And it has grown. To date, 98 class members have contributed to the Class of ’64 Scholarship Fund, and their initial investment of $134,000 in cash and stocks has now grown to over $155,000. In addition, at least five class members have made provision for the fund in their estate plans, and that additional funding amounts to over $1,016,000. Whether other classes like it or not, this strong support from the Class of ’64 does argue in favor of its claim to be “The Greatest Class Ever!”
Scarcely three years into its existence, the Class of ’64 Scholarship is already helping one student at Saint John’s. Within a year a second student will likely benefit as well from this generosity and foresight. But over and above the immediate benefit to students, this gesture is a great example of Johnnies combining their talents and treasure to create a new way to keep Saint John’s affordable while at the same time enabling Saint John’s to remain true to its traditions. Meanwhile, this also insures that the memory of the Class of ’64 will touch the lives of students at Saint John’s for generations to come.
[Editors note: If you are interested in exploring the possibility of an individual, family or class scholarship, please contact Jim Dwyer or one of his colleagues in the Office of Institutional Advancement at Saint John’s University.]