When Scott Becker ’77 was informed he’d been selected to receive this year’s Fr. Walter Reger Distinguished Alumnus Award – the highest honor bestowed by the SJU Alumni Association for service to alma mater – his thoughts immediately turned to a past recipient.
“My biggest mentor was the 1995 winner of the award – a great Johnnie named John Agee ’70,” said Becker, who is scheduled to receive the honor as part of Saint John’s Day activities on April 21. “I worked for John at Adler Management in the 1980s. He took me on as his No. 2 and taught me the investment management business.
“It was the typical example of Johnnies taking care of Johnnies. And that really propelled me on in my career.”
Indeed, Becker went on to become a founder of Northstar Capital, a leading private equity firm based in Minneapolis. But he never forgot the importance of giving back to his alma mater – both financially and through his time and effort.
The former football and baseball standout – who played on John Gagliardi’s 1976 Division III national championship team – is a current member of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Common Boards of Trustees, as well as the SJU Leadership Council. He also serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Johnnies baseball program and – with fellow instructor Cary Musech ‘80 – teaches a private equity course on campus.
He was an alumni association board member from 1992-96 and a SJU Private Investment Board member from 2000 to 2012. In addition, he served as an SJU Capital Campaign volunteer from 2015 to 2018.
He’s also been a generous benefactor. Becker Park – the state-of-the-art home stadium complex of the SJU baseball team – was made possible by gifts from Becker, his wife Julie and their family, along with other very generous Johnnie alumni and friends.
The Reger Award is named in honor of Fr. Walter Reger, OSB. A priest, professor, prefect, dean and friend, he was the driving force behind the SJU Alumni Association for years. He had ties to thousands of Johnnies, corresponding with many of them long into their alumni years. So ardent was his dedication that he became known as “Mr. Saint John’s.”
That’s a title that John Young, SJU’s associate vice president for institutional advancement, said applies to Becker as well.
“In addition to all of the other things, he also does so much student recruitment,” Young said. “Not just in his capacity as a volunteer assistant baseball coach, but in general. He’s encouraged hundreds of students and their families to look at both Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s over the years. He’s the ultimate ambassador for both colleges.”
Becker said he is honored to receive the award, especially because he holds so many of the past winners in high regard. But he doesn’t think of his service as anything special.
Rather, he simply sees it as a way of repaying all the SJU community has meant to him over the years and sustaining it for future generations.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do,” said Becker, an Austin Pacelli High School graduate who played baseball for two years at Southern Idaho before transferring to SJU in the fall of 1975. “I think that’s what the Benedictines teach us. If you really want to walk the walk and talk the talk, you have to serve.
“That’s the only way we’ll survive and thrive as an institution. I’d love for us to be a Princeton, Harvard or Yale and have a billion-dollar endowment. Then we could solve everybody’s problems. But that’s not who we are. So the way we have to get it done is that our alums – if they want to keep the special thing we have here going – need to serve. And they need to give – financially and in any other ways they can.”