St. Mary’s University reached a fundraising milestone Friday, raising a record $165 million for the Catholic institution, five years after launching the campaign.

With a goal of raising $130 million, the Defining Moment Comprehensive Campaign exceeded expectations for the San Antonio university and placed it on a path to support even more students and faculty, President Thomas Mengler said.

“We raised a lot of money that positions us to be an even stronger university today and in the future,” he said, “and the breadth of our campaign in terms of participation also ensures that St. Mary’s will continue to be able to develop the resources for its strategic priorities.”

One of those strategic priorities is student scholarships. St. Mary’s raised $58.8 million in new scholarship funding, with $47 million going toward endowed scholarships that will continue to grow and benefit future students, Mengler said. About 40% of St. Mary’s students are first-generation students, and more than 50% of them are eligible for Pell Grants.

“The students who attend St. Mary’s come from modest backgrounds, and this scholarship funding will allow us to continue our mission,” he said.

The campaign also funded 14 new endowed academic positions.

About 11,500 donors made at least one gift to the campaign, with 39 giving $1 million or more. Almost 4,900 people made a donation of $100 or less.

Mengler said receiving donations from thousands of alumni represents the gratitude he often hears from former students of the university who want to pay forward the opportunities they experienced at St. Mary’s.

“It’s a big sense of gratitude,” he said. “I’ve been at three different universities. Not everybody feels that way about their university. This is a special place.”

Another major priority for the university was updating the School of Science, Engineering and Technology, Mengler said. The campaign raised $41 million for the school and helped St. Mary’s build new state-of-the-art labs, including a drone lab where students can learn about the development and use of drones.

Another $13.2 million raised will go toward new labs and classrooms. In August, the university will break ground on an innovation center that will house laboratories for science, engineering and technology students.

The campaign also raised $32 million for the Greehey School of Business, $22 million for the School of Law and $20 million for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

The campaign raised $5.2 million to continue supporting St. Mary’s Marianist mission. During the campaign, the university established the Center for Catholic Studies, which promotes the university’s mission through programs, seminars and conferences that are open to students, faculty, staff and the community, Mengler said.

Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum is the San Antonio Report's education reporter.