A Message from the President: College Celebrates Largest Private Gift

March 26, 2011

Dear Community:

It is with great joy and gratitude that I share with you the wonderful news that Saint Mary’s has received the largest single private donation in our 167-year history.  Today at the “Celebrating the Education of Women in Science” event, I announced to the audience that Philanthropists MaryAnn and Clayton Mathile, parents of Saint Mary’s alumna Jennifer Mathile Prikkel ’95, donated $9 million dollars to Saint Mary’s for the renovation of our Science Hall, which houses the Departments of Biology and Chemistry/Physics. In addition, Jennifer Prikkel, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, has donated $1 million to the project for a combined gift of $10 million.

The Mathile and Prikkel families believe in the power of women’s education and they have invested in Saint Mary’s College because we adhere to the Holy Cross tradition of educating both the mind and the heart.  This transformation gift will ensure that our current and future students and our exceptional faculty will work in cutting edge laboratories and classrooms.

Below are the remarks from Saturday, March 26, 2011.  For more information on this wonderful day I encourage you to visit saintmarys.edu/womeninscience

Carol Ann Mooney,

 Remarks from Saturday, March 26, 2011

When I wrote my Strategic Plan in 2007 I started with several fundamental goals – and my first goal was that Saint Mary’s must be committed to providing students with an excellent intellectual and academic experience.  That experience at Saint Mary’s must happen both inside and outside of the classroom. 

That is what is distinctive about a Holy Cross education - we focus on both the education of the mind and of the heart.   This is who we are and what we do.  The world needs women who are educated in the Saint Mary’s way. 

The U.S. ranks 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students who receive undergraduate degrees in science and engineering. 

The U.S. is now outperformed by Slovenia, Hungary, and Estonia, among others.  We must reverse this trend if our country is to maintain and grow its competitiveness.  An investment in science education, especially for women, may be the key to regaining the United States’ position as a world leader in science and technology. 

 We at Saint Mary’s know full well about the extraordinary talents possessed by women.  Unlike Saint Mary’s, the larger scientific community has not taken full advantage of women’s talents.  In 1999 a group of women at MIT made a big splash when they published data showing that they, and their scientific work, was systematically disadvantaged in a variety of ways (including such things as the square footage of lab space afforded to women compared to that given to men, the number of graduate and post-graduate lab assistants, etc.)  Just last week, MIT announced that the study will be redone to see if any progress has been made.  Saint Mary’s has educated women scientists for more than a century and a half and has sent them onto the best graduate programs, medical schools, and veterinary schools in the country.  They leave us confident that they can and will make scientific contributions.

We have been teasing our community for several weeks now with the news that there will be a special announcement today.   In my job it is critical to be able to keep a secret – and I can…but this secret has been very difficult for me to keep – I have wanted to shout it from the rooftops for months now.  So I am now pleased to finally be able to share with you that Saint Mary’s College has received the largest single gift in its history – and that gift has been designated for the renovation of our Science Hall. 

Our students and faculty deserve a first rate science facility - and I know that what we currently have is far from first rate.  In fact, I believe that only a faculty as excellent as ours could have produced the results they have year after year in such a challenging and dated facility.  So in the fall of 2009 I took a number of our Trustees and friends of the College on a tour – we covered the entire building – labs, classrooms, and basement. 

 One person who was on that tour was my friend, and our trustee and alumna, Jennifer Mathile Prikkel.  Jennifer and her parents are a family with strong connections to Saint Mary’s.  Jennifer’s mother, MaryAnn, received an honorary degree from Saint Mary’s in 2006 and we are proud to call her a Saint Mary’s woman.

The Mathile’s were the lead donors for the building of Spes Unica and they share my passion for women’s education and the results it produces. The Mathile family is nationally known for its generosity, and like all good philanthropists they make decisions carefully and prayerfully.  There are no adequate words to express my deep gratitude to them for the faith they have in Saint Mary’s College. 

 It is with great joy that I announce that Jennifer Mathile Prikkel has given the College $1 million and her parents have given $9 million for a combined $10 million dollar gift that is designated for the renovation of our Science facility.  Please join me in thanking them for their faith in us and the work we do.