McNeely Center receives $1 million endowment gift from Manitou Fund

Bookmark and Share

April 27, 2018

By Mike Killeen

Hemesath with donation check

From left: Mike Urbanos, Michael Hemesath and Kevin McNeely.

Photo by Elena Anderla '21

The monks that founded Saint John’s University and the sisters that founded the College of Saint Benedict were entrepreneurs, Margrette Newhouse said.

From the sisters founding the St. Cloud Hospital to the monks creating Minnesota Public Radio, entrepreneurship has always been alive and well on both campuses, said Newhouse, director of the Donald J. McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship.

Thanks to a $1 million check the Donald J. McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship received on April 24 at the Founders Room, SJU, student entrepreneurship will continue to be alive and well at CSB and SJU.

Kevin McNeely, son of Donald McNeely, the namesake of the center, presented the $1 million challenge match check from the Manitou Fund, the philanthropic foundation of the Donald McNeely family, to SJU President Michael Hemesath.

That challenge match came after 27 donors committed $1 million toward the “10 for 10 Challenge” to endow 10 scholarships for the Entrepreneur Scholars program at the center during the Forward Ever Forward capital campaign at SJU.

“It’s a lot of money,” Newhouse said.

How will the money be used?

“The 10 for 10 Challenge gets us to a million dollars in scholarship support,” Newhouse said. “The match provides an endowment that supports the overall operation of the Donald McNeely Center.

“I think people recognize that the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University were founded by entrepreneurs,” Newhouse said. “Reflecting back, the Benedictine Values that they set forth for us is a natural springboard of a framework for someone to launch businesses after they left Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s.

“Leaders are looking for Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s to develop innovative and entrepreneurial-minded and skilled talent – which requires the center to continue to develop our offerings. The Entrepreneur Scholar program, now in its 15th cohort, in particular has done an excellent job in preparing individuals to engage in entrepreneurship as they are expected to launch something before they graduate from the program,” Newhouse added.

Since starting the Entrepreneur Scholars program in 2004, 192 students from both CSB and SJU have passed through the program in its first 14 cohorts.

Newhouse noted that Entrepreneur Scholars are assessed an additional fee of $7,000 beyond their tuition for participating in the program.

“Much of (the fee) is driven by the business travel that we do to the Silicon Valley (in California); Hong Kong, China; and Denver,” Newhouse said. “We want to make sure that the program is accessible to all our students, no matter what their financial means are.

“The scholarships do make a huge impact to allow anyone who is interested in participating in the Entrepreneur Scholar program that they truly can be a part of the program.”

The check presentation completed a big day for the McNeely Center.

Earlier, the McNeely Center Market was held in the Great Hall. The market, started by an idea from Entrepreneur Scholars and CSB seniors Alex Savre and Sarah Spaulding, allowed Entrepreneur Scholars – including student legacy businesses such as Clemens Perk and Square One – and other members of the community to sell products.

Participants then transitioned to the annual celebration dinner, which was attended by 150 persons, including generous supporters, volunteers, campus venture leadership and Entrepreneur Scholar cohort members and guests.

Three donors were specifically acknowledged during the dinner for providing leadership and generosity – Mike and Rosann Urbanos, Bob and Linda Foster and Pat and Molly Maxwell (Pat is a former director of the center). Each of these benefactors received a bottle vase specifically designed and handcrafted by artist-in-residence Richard Bresnahan, and was fired in October during the 14th firing of the Johanna Kiln.

Kevin McNeely was also presented a bottle vase in appreciation for the Manitou Fund’s support of the center. He is the CEO of the Sonoma (California) International Film Festival, which was named one of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World by Movie Maker magazine in 2016.

“The purpose behind the annual dinner is taking that moment to pause to celebrate and reflect on all that has been done by the center this year and the people that are involved — the generous donors and volunteers of the center, as well as the students that will be transitioning from our program into the real world,” Newhouse said.