Augsburg celebrates a record gift of $10 million

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 1, 2013 - 10:17 PM

“Transformative gift” came from an anonymous donor.

An anonymous alumnus has given $10 million to Augsburg College, the largest gift in the small Minneapolis school’s history.

The college announced Monday that the gift would bolster its plans to build a new academic building that has long topped its wish list.

“For a place of this size, and for what we need to do, this is a transformative gift,” said President Paul Pribbenow.

The gift brings the total raised and pledged for the proposed Center for Science, Business and Religion to more than $23 million. Before breaking ground, regents want to have $34 million collected toward the project’s $60 million price, according to a recent article in the college’s student newspaper, the Augsburg Echo.

“That’s why we only get to celebrate this for one day, because we have to get back to work tomorrow to find the next $10 million,” Pribbenow said Monday with a laugh.

Other Minnesota colleges and universities, the University of Minnesota among them, regularly make news for gifts in the tens of millions of dollars. In October, the University of St. Thomas announced that it had exceeded its multiyear, $500 million fundraising goal with the help of three gifts that exceeded $50 million each.

But for Augsburg, this is the largest gift from a single donor “probably by a magnitude twice over,” Pribbenow said.

Augsburg has tried before to build a science building, but “there was something missing from the story,” Pribbenow said. After meeting with hundreds of alumni, businesspeople and others, the college decided to broaden the building’s aim. Officials now envision it as an interdisciplinary hub.

Fundraising for the center began in 2008, “at precisely the wrong moment in the American economy,” Pribbenow said. But the campaign re-emerged about a year ago. One video, posted on YouTube in June 2012, asks people to consider donating to “a groundbreaking facility.”

“We want you to be a part of it,” one alumnus in the video says.

The donor, who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and business administration in 1965, has helped shape the building’s purpose, Pribbenow said. “To me, it was never a question of if he was going to make a commitment, but when,” he said.

Because the donor’s gift is both unrestricted and anonymous, it gives the college options, he added. “Because he doesn’t want his own name on the building, it leaves space for a second gift at the same level,” he said. “We’ll see.”

 

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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