Every Gift Counts, Especially Yours

Every Gift Counts, Especially Yours

St. Kate’s longtime donors are inspired to give for many reasons.


SCAN posed these questions to several donors — St. Catherine alumnae from the Class of 1942 to 1985 who have given to their alma mater for a quarter of a century, or more. Six edited and condensed responses appear below.

While the details surrounding their initial gifts are fuzzy — 25 years is a long time — the motivation behind them is not. Catherine “Cathy” Sykes ’69, for example, was inspired by her education. “During my undergraduate years at St. Catherine, I remember simply ‘putting up with’ the philosophy and theology requirements,” she says. “Now, I am so grateful for those requirements and for all my teachers. They helped me develop the fundamental and foundational essence of who I am today.”

Charitable contributions support the University’s operating budget. When pooled together, these gifts of all sizes have gone to nearly every aspect of life, from laboratory equipment to basketballs for St. Kate’s Wildcats. In 2013–14, nine percent of alumnae (or 3,649 donors) included St. Catherine in their philanthropic giving.

This is a good sign because foundations, corporations and other grant-makers often consider the rate of alumnae giving when making funding decisions. The rationale: if graduates don’t support their university, then why should we?

Maureen Kelly Neerland ’62:

“I have always contributed as much as I could in order to express my gratitude for the superior education I received, the inspiring role models I met and the many friends I made. I also gave from a sense of gratitude and in honor of my parents, Tom and Marie Kearns Kelly, who sacrificed so much so that I could attend St. Kate’s.”

Georgianna Knapp Saumweber ’73:

“I am inspired by my mother, Georgianna Haas Knapp, who graduated from St. Catherine in 1939. She taught us — her 13 children — to be an active part of the world we live in and to always give back in some way. I don’t remember my first gift to St. Kate’s, but the amount is not as important as the act itself. Give at the level of your ability.”

Catherine “Cathy” Sykes ’69:

“St. Catherine has always been dear to my heart. I look back on those four years as a time of mental, social, emotional and, most importantly, spiritual growth. I give regularly because I believe in promoting leadership among Catholic women. We are capable of making a positive difference in our families, communities and our society.”

Catherine Murray Mamer ’61:

“I loved my time at St. Catherine. The community was my family and the campus became my home. When I was teaching in Tanganyika (now Tanzania, Africa), I adopted an orphan student and sought a scholarship for her to attend St. Kate’s. She got it, with the help of Sister Rosalie, then dean of women. My gratitude was immense. I continue to give because I believe that others need to receive this opportunity.”

Roberta “Bobbie” Ganas Ackley ’64:

“I applied to St. Kate’s thanks to encouragement and support from my high school chemistry teacher, Eraine Ste Marie Schmit ’46. I truly believe the well-rounded liberal arts education I received — plus St. Kate’s reputation and strong alumnae connections — opened up many opportunities in my career. These opportunities gave me the financial resources then and now, in my retirement years, to ‘pay it forward.’”

Mary Wolcyn Larsen ’71:

“I received an excellent education. I’m sure my first gift was only $25 to $50 dollars, but I felt good about giving it. I continue to give annually to support the academic opportunities for students. My husband, Pete, and I plan to leave a major gift in our trust.”

THE COMPLETE LIST OF DONORS who have given 25 years or more is available on St. Catherine's Development website.



  • 299
    Donors who have given 25 years or more consecutively; see the name list here.
  • 434
    Members of the President’s Forum (2014–15)
  • 164
    Members of the McHugh Society (2014–15)
  • 351
    Members of the Ireland Society (2014–15)


President's Forum:
Annual Fund donors who contribute $1,500.

McHugh Society:
Donors who establish endowed scholarships.

Ireland Society:
Donors who include St. Catherine in their estate plans

LEARN MORE about supporting St. Catherine University.



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Pauline Oo MAOL Cert’14, MBA'16

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Blanche "Bea" Abdallah

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