Anonymous donor's generous challenge gift to James A. Donahue Presidential Endowed Scholarship

To honor the service and contributions of retiring Saint Mary’s College President Jim Donahue, a generous, anonymous benefactor has made a substantial gift to the James A. Donahue Presidential Endowed Scholarship. “Having an endowed scholarship in his name at such a prestigious institution is a fitting tribute,” said the donor. 

The donor expressed gratitude to President Donahue, describing him as a “perfect combination of educator, scholar and leader,” and saying that he “embodies that incredible Saint Mary’s balance of outstanding education, deep spirituality, and unpretentious authenticity.” 

The gift was also offered as a challenge and inspiration to others as the College aims to raise $1 million for the scholarship before President Donahue retires in June 2021. The challenge has already galvanized the Board of Trustees as well as a cohort of former trustees, and will be showcased during the College’s annual giving day on April 28.  

Brother Bernard LoCoco, a current trustee for the College, was inspired to contribute to the presidential scholarship to pay tribute to President Donahue as an educator, a leader, and a person who epitomizes the Lasallian values in many ways. “I deeply admire and appreciate President Donahue’s commitment to quality education and to building an inclusive community,” Brother LoCoco said. “Jim really did see in everyone the person of Christ, the dignity of each person.” Brother LoCoco also lauded President Donahue’s fundraising skills, noting that he had led the most successful Capital Campaign in the College’s history, raising $136 million ($11 million above its goal) for Saint Mary’s.

Former trustee James Quandt ’71 was also motivated to help match the generous challenge gift. “The presidential scholarship continues our mission of making Saint Mary’s affordable and accessible, I’m pleased to support this effort,” he said. 

The James A. Donahue Presidential Endowed Scholarship will help bridge the gap between what a student can afford and the tuition cost of a transformative Saint Mary’s education, and reflects President Donahue’s personal commitment to the Lasallian principles of service and education for all. “It was important to honor his term of service as president in a way that would pay forward his commitment to Lasallian values,” said the anonymous donor, who has several affiliations with the College, including as the parent of an alumnus.

President Donahue’s endowed scholarship is part of a larger SMC Scholarship Initiative: Students First which aims to raise $10 million to provide financial support for the College’s most vulnerable students, many of whom come from low-income households. A strong scholarship program also attracts a wide pool of applicants, which keeps Saint Mary’s competitive, diverse, and vibrant.  

“Leading Saint Mary’s over the past eight years has been the most gratifying experience of my professional life. What an honor and privilege it has been to serve this exceptional College, grounded in a deeply realized Lasallian Catholic mission guided by the Christian Brothers, and dedicated to the bonds among our College community,” said President Donahue. “I am humbled and inspired by our community’s generosity and steadfast support of this scholarship.”