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Annual Fund: What's New

Welcome to the AQuinas Fund's Web Newsletter!
June 2013
As we kick off June, the last month of our fiscal year, it is important to note how many incredible things happened in May. We celebrated a number of traditions, including Commencement and the Peter M. Wege Pro-Am. We also held a fresh new event with the Alumni Relations office called "AQ On Tap" in our first region: Traverse City!
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Commencement 2013 was on Saturday, May 4, and provided an opportunity for the families of our newest alumni from the Class of 2013 to celebrate their success. It was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. Ceremonies in the Saturday schedule included Baccalaureate Mass, Campus Brunch, and the ceremony itself. The Commencement speaker was Peter Perez, President of Carter Products, Inc. Honorary degrees were awarded to Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley, Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids and Ellen Satterlee, CEO of the Wege Foundation.

Other events celebrated included a President's Reception for Continuing Education and Masters graduates on Thursday, May 2, and a President's Open House Reception for traditional graduates and Senior Awards on Friday, May 3.. All added up to make the weekend quite memorable and exiting.

   

On Monday, May 20, the sixth annual Peter M. Wege Pro-Am took place at Blythefield Country Club. Golfers teed up on the greens of the club, participated in Par 3 Contests as well as a Putting Contest all to win raffle tickets for some amazing prizes. Although the rain put an end to the game in the afternoon, a winner was still determined. Dinner included a lively auction and wrapped up the evening nicely. All money raised at the outings benefit the AQuinas Fund, a fund established to help provide tuition assistance for our well deserving students.

 
Last but not least, the Alumni Relations Office has been working very hard to put on a new series of Aquinas events in the regions of Traverse City, Chicago, Bay City, and Detroit. These events, titled "AQ on Tap" feature a professor and a mini-lecture, craft beer and food, and the opportunity to network and meet other alumni from the area. We kicked off the series at the North Peak Brewery in Traverse City, which was a huge success. If you live nearby and would like to join, please RSVP today! Absolutely any gift raised for these events are generously matched by Mark Meijer '80 and the Meijer Foundation, which double them in worth!
 
The summer is only beginning and the campus is beautiful. Please don't hesitate to stop by and enjoy the scenery. And, please consider making your very important gift to the AQuinas Fund today. If you have never given, or haven't had a chance in the past five years, your generous gift of any amount will trigger a $250 donation from Wege Foundation. Click here to give now!
 

Thanks for reading! Have a fabulous summer!

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May 2013
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Today is May 1 and I think we can finally say that spring has arrived! At least the flowers on campus say that spring has arrived! It is just gorgeous here. Color everywhere!

 

And it’s only two days until Commencement. Congratulations to the Class of 2013! The Exam Cram Breakfast was a success again this year. And Dr. and Mrs. O were right there among it all, helping to serve breakfast to the students.

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We’re heading into our final two months for our fiscal year. I’m very happy to report that we have surpassed last year’s mark at the end of April so we’re moving right along to our $1.3 million goal. We still have a way to go and always need your help. So if you haven’t yet given, or wish to give again, visit our giving page at aquinas.edu/giving.

 

Speaking of giving online, we’re developing a new online giving portal that will streamline with our Raiser’s Edge database. It will also provide even more security for the online process so you can be assured that your information is safe!

 

 

Thank you for helping to make this a great year to far.

Enjoy the sunshine and celebrate life!

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April 2013

Hello Friends!

 

The past semester has been an exciting one for the Aquinas Fund and the rest of the Foundation Office! We’ve had several fun events in the past few months, but our Alumni Brunch on March 23rd was a great success. Alumni of all ages enjoyed a healthy morning spread and presidential champagne toast to celebrate all good things Aquinas. We had a question and answer panel made up of AQ Alums who were honored this year with the distinguished title of Forty Under 40 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. Any gift made to the Aquinas Fund in conjunction with this event will be matched by Mark Meijer and the Meijer Foundation! If you would like to contribute, visit aquinas.edu/giving now. Under Program Designation, please choose Alumni Brunch in order for your gift to qualify for the match.

 

Also this month, we celebrate Aquinas Tag Week (April 15-19)! This is a campus-wide event that helps us to recognize everything here at AQ that is made possible by our extremely generous donors. We do this to show our gratitude to those who help make Aquinas an amazing community to be a part of—a community that makes all the difference in the world! Many thanks to our wonderful donors!

 

Happy Easter! He has risen!

 

Many blessings to you and yours,

Ariel Timm

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March 2013
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Hello readers!

 

Welcome to the March edition of the AQuinas Fund blog! Despite the drastic weather, snowstorms, and the fact that February is such a short month, we have accomplished quite a bit in our office. And although I am home sick writing this, I am excited to share with you some of the new things that our team has been working on.

 

First, we celebrated an amazing Saint Valentine's Day with the Alumni Relations office on Friday, February 8. Being the third annual AQ Date night, this event continues to celebrate the 1,000+ couples who met at Aquinas college, including our very own President Olivarez '71 and Mary Olivarez '72. For more photos of the event, click here. For more information on what else Aquinas did to celebrate the special Saint Valentine's Day, click here. This office will also hold the upcoming Alumni Brunch, an exciting networking opportunity complete with a delicious and healthy breakfast spread and presidential champagne toast. The panel conversation will be among the Aquinas alumni that were featured in the Grand Rapids' Business Journal's Top 40 Under Forty. Please consider joining us! We would love to have you! To register, click here.


In addition, the phone center made calls to special donors for the Grand Saints Campaign, which invites special alumni to commit to $1,000, a gift that the Wege Foundation will match, to the Phase II of the Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center. These special donors will receive a lapel pin and be included in the Grand Saints giving society. For more information about this campaign as well as the plans for Phase II, please click here.

 

The Corporate Relations office will be holding an extremely exciting Corporate Partners Luncheon, featuring speaker Rick DeVos, founder of one of Grand Rapids' most popular events, ArtPrize. For more information about the Corporate Partners Program, click here.

 

In the AQuinas Fund office, we have been planning one of the most prominent and exciting upcoming Aquinas Fund events: the Peter M. Wege Pro-Am. We are always looking for new attendees, so please click here to visit the golf page for more information, and keep your eyes out for news on how you can be involved!

 

Finally, the Winter 2013 magazine has been published online. Click here to read it now!

 

Thanks for reading! Enjoy the month, and we look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events in the spring.

Sincerely,

Bridget

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February 2013
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I’m sitting here at my desk, thinking about the month of February; what it means or what it may bring. Obviously, Valentine’s Day, but what else? I can’t say that February tops my list of favorite months...it’s right in the middle of winter when things are blah and grey. I’m bordering on wanting more snow and longing for the smell of spring. But at least it’s a short month. And did you know that it’s also Black History Month, and Children’s Dental Health Month, and Great American Pie Month, National Cherry Month (though in Michigan, we celebrate the cherries in July), National Weddings Month (then why are most weddings during the summer???), and Canned Food Month, just to name a few? I actually found a list of 29 things to “celebrate” or be aware of in the month of February, and not one of them is St. Valentine’s Day. Maybe that’s because it’s one day out of a whole month. I don’t know, but I do know we like to celebrate Valentine’s Day here at AQ. Our third annual AQ Date Night party is February 8 this year. We get to celebrate with all those who met and/or dated at Aquinas and then got married. How fun is that!?

 

Not to digress too much, but I want to mention the amazing success we had with our December Alumni Challenge! Thank you again to Kate Pew Wolters ’78 and Gretchen Rumohr-Voskuil M.Ed. ’01 for making this happen. Click here to see details, as well as to see how well our Reunion Scholar Program faired this year. Both ended on December 31, 2012.

 

I can’t forget to mention St. Thomas Aquinas Week! Always the last week of January, we celebrate our patron saint and what he means to our Dominican heritage. This week has come to mean many things to many people – prayerful meditative walks upon a Chartres Cathedral replicated floor labyrinth, a celebration of our Dominican tradition in which we recognize Dominicans who have served the Aquinas Community, and of course, our annual campus picture for faculty, staff and students. So Happy Birthday Saint Thomas Aquinas.

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And Happy February to all of you, however you may choose to recognize the shortest month of the year. I know I have a lot more options then I originally thought…28 more to be exact!

 

Until next time,

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December 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and well wishes on the New Year from the Aquinas Fund!


This time of year, campus is buzzing! As the semester draws to a close, Aquinas remembers its four Charisms: Prayer, Study, Community and Service.


Prayer: Alumni Paul Wizniuk (‘11) has returned to Grand Rapids from a year-long volunteer program where he lived in a Dominican community in Salt Lake City, UT. While there, he participated in praying the Liturgy of the Hours, three times a day; he has decided to continue this practice at Aquinas. This traditional form of prayer is a great way to get in touch with Catholic roots and traditions, beginning the day in communication with God. Many clergy and religious communities pray this form of prayer throughout the world. Join Paul in the chapel at 8:30 am each weekday morning to pray.


Study: For the next week, students, faculty, and staff are gearing up for end-of-semester exams. Next week, classes come to a close and final exams will be administered. For first year students, this is their first collegiate-level exam experience! For some early-graduating seniors, or fifth-year students, this is their final exam before graduating. Faculty and staff members look forward to ending the semester on a good note, and taking a break as well. In all cases, it is certainly a time for celebration on the evening of December 17th after everyone has worked to diligently all semester!


Community: President Juan Oliverez (‘71) continued the beloved tradition of lighting a Christmas tree on our campus this year. Last week, he and members of the Aquinas community gathered around a beautiful Christmas tree on Holmdene Lawn, ceremoniously igniting the tree’s decorative lights. In recent years, there has been a new twist on this event—a living, growing pine tree on Aquinas’ campus has been decorated—in the past, a live tree has been felled and placed on campus for the holiday season.


Service: Aquinas has been recognized by the Council for Foundation and Support of Education (CASE) for Best Practices in Alumni Relations for our program 125 Acts of Service. This was a collaborative event that was part of our 125th Anniversary celebration. The program worked to record acts of service by current students and alumni.

 

Visit the website for more information: http://www.aquinas.edu/125/service.html

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October 2012

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It has been such an incredible fall! Last weekend, we celebrated a tremendously successful Homecoming, where the Aquinas held a number of memorable events, including the AQ ArtPrize reception, the AQ Run Thru, Brookby Tours, the "Under the Tent" Young Alumni party, midway games, a family-friendly inflatable village, class reunions, the Black Alumni Society reunion, men's and women's soccer games, Homecoming Court, Homecoming Mass, and performances from the AQ Jazz Band and the incredibly talented Natalie Stoval.

>>Click here for more Homecoming 2012 photos on our Alumni Facebook page!

 

In addition to that amazing event, we also hired an amazing new team of Student Foundation Representatives this month, and began phone center calls to our alumni. Our team now totals twelve callers, and will focus on updating alumni records, re-establishing relationships with friends of Aquinas, filling parents in with school news, answer any questions, talk about their love for Aquinas College, and translate the passion of others into philanthropic action. So far, in two weeks, this team alone has raised approximately $24,000 from 179 donors for the AQuinas Fund. Their total goal is to raise $150,000 of the Aquinas Fund's $1.3 million goal. As a part of this effort, they are currently talking to reunion classes about our Reunion Class Scholars program, which names a class scholarship for every $1,500 a class raises, and awards it to a deserving student.

>>Click here for more about the Reunion Scholars Program.

 

A final note is about a few job transitions in our department, including the promotion of Greg Meyer to Vice President of Foundation, Kate Davis to Senior Director of the AQuinas Fund, and Jannine Guyeskey to Manager of Alumni Services. As Jannine transitions to her new position, she will continue to assist the Aquinas Fund in their efforts until a replacement is found and brought up to speed. In the midst of this change, my job title has modified into the Director of the Phone Center and Internet Strategies. All of these changes couldn't be more welcomed, as we feel that they will streamline direct reports to the Vice President for Foundation and allow for a more efficient execution of the AQuinas Fund.

 

In the center of all the excitement, we continue to look forward to a busy and fruitful rest of our fiscal year! If you have absolutely any questions, please contact us!

Sincerely,

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September 2012
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Where did summer go? It’s September 4 already and the students are back on campus. What a change from the quiet lazy days of summer. Now there’s activity and people everywhere. It’s wonderful! And while the students and faculty are gearing up for their new classes, we here in the AQuinas Fund are gearing up for a new campaign. We get excited each year to figure new ways to involve our alumni and donors. We work closely with the Brigid Avery, Director of Alumni Relations to come up with new ideas, but we’re always looking for input. Do you have an idea or a new way to get involved or to volunteer at Aquinas? Contact any of us with your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!

 

I’d like to introduce to you Leann Secord ’05 and Kim Holt ’94, who are joining the AQuinas Fund Committee this year. And we are thrilled to have a current student join the committee as well. Brandon Heritier ’15 will be giving input on behalf of the student body. Brandon is also the Chair of the Student Senate. These three will join Mary Hamel ’97, who joined us last year. Get to know them better on the Aquinas Fund web page - http://www.aquinas.edu/foundation/aqfund/index.html. A very warm welcome to all of you. We look forward to working with you in furthering the outreach of the AQuinas Fund.

Until next time,

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August 2012

We are delighted to announce that the AQuinas Fund for fiscal year 2011-12 ended with a donation total of $2,849,833: $1,183,423 unrestricted, $1,666,410 restricted. This amount exceeds previous years and we are working hard to ensure growing dollars every year. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for all the donors who have helped make the last 125 years possible.

Your participation is welcomed and valued as we work together to further the mission of Aquinas College for today and tomorrow. When you donate, volunteer and attend Aquinas College events, you embody the values of our Catholic identity. The goal of the Aquinas Fund is to raise financial support which will provide student scholarships and other services offered to Aquinas students. For more information about how you can participate, please contact any of us!

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Kate Davis 
Co-Director, The AQuinas Fund
Phone: (616) 632-2817
E-mail: daviskat@aquinas.edu
Bridget Harrigan
Co-Director, The AQuinas Fund
Phone: (616) 632-2806 
E-mail: bridget.harrigan@aquinas.edu

Jannine Guyeskey

Coordinator, The AQuinas Fund

Phone: (616) 632-2173

E-mail: jmg003@aquinas.edu

 
Or, visit our social media sites and explore our webpage!
 
July 2012

We’ve just wrapped up our 2011-2012 Fiscal Year, and it’s been a successful one!  Preliminary numbers show that the AQuinas Fund unrestricted account is above $1.15 million, with the restricted account surpassing typical year-end numbers by over $1 million.  Many thanks go out to all that helped make another year at Aquinas College possible.  As we begin our next 125 years, we will continuously be preparing for all the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

 

We are now entering our planning stage of the year.  If you have new ideas or comments you’d like to share with us, we’re ready for your feedback!  Your support and participation is always needed and appreciated, so be sure to think of us this next year.  Our goal is to constantly build the number of active participants within the AQ Community, so keep an eye out for more chances to get involved.

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June 2012

It has been heating up around here in the last month or so!  Not only is the temperature warmer, but there has been a buzz of activities on campus, so I apologize for posting this blog so late in the game!  Needless to say, we have been flooded with our fiscal year-end activities, including Commencement, The Peter M. Wege Pro-Am, and our Regional Alumni Breakfasts   All of these events have helped to conclude our special 125th Anniversary with our new president, Dr. Juan Olivarez, at the wheel.  All of these events have truly made the 2011/2012 year so special.  We are incredibly thankful for the community of alumni, parents, friends, corporations, faculty and staff, and current students that make Aquinas College such a special place.

 

The AQuinas Fund has had an influx of strong donations, slowly helping to chip away at our $1.3 million goal.  As I type this, we sit very near the $1.1 million mark. In order to make our goal by the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, we reach out to our community to ask you to consider making a contribution to the AQuinas Fund.  Regardless of the size of the gifts, the participation of our donors is what truly matters.  Join the 3,300+ donors and alumni who help make Aquinas College a reality for so many deserving students. 100% of your gift will be used to provide tuition assistance for our students.  Absolutely any gift truly makes such a difference, and our students are extremely grateful.  

 

Remember! The Wege Foundation has graciously committed to a $250 donation to The AQuinas Fund for every alumni donor making their first gift, or first gift in five or more years! Essentially, your gift could have an even greater impact! If you have not had the opportunity to give yet, there’s still time!  Please consider donating generously NOW, before the end of our fiscal year on June 30, 2012!

 

For a complete summary of recent events, I encourage you to check out our Spring 2012 Aquinas Magazine, commemorating our 125th Anniversary celebration. It is now available online! Click here to read it, today!

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy the beautiful summer that we are having!

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May 2012

It’s here! Commencement 2012 is upon us! You can tell something big is on the horizon as the atmosphere is charged with emotion. Students are taking exams, the grounds crew is sprucing things up, and we’re rehearsing for the big event.

I’m looking forward to summer. Though we still have two months left in this fiscal year, I look toward summer as a revitalizing period. Jannine, Bridget and I get to brainstorm about our fundraising ideas for the new year. It’s a fresh start where opportunities abound.

Tag Week and our first ever attempt at fundraising with the student body took place last month. We showcased items on campus made possible because of our generous donors….even students wore tags indicating their “load” was a little lighter thanks to the donors. As with most new programs, it came with its first year trials and errors. But we feel it’s a program that could flourish so we’ll tweak for next year and make it even better.

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The AQuinas Fund itself ended April with some strong donations, gaining much needed ground toward our $1.3 million goal. If you have not had the opportunity to give yet, there’s still time. Call us or email us. Or give online at www.aquinas.edu/giving.

Summer in Michigan and on the Aquinas College Campus…no better place to be!

Enjoy!

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April 2012

 

Wrapping up from this year’s Alumni Breakfast, held on March 21st, we’re happy to announce that it was a success.  With our new format, designed to accommodate a number of different topics and interests, over 100 people were in attendance.  Overall, it’s been an exciting year and we’ve been working hard to keep things interesting.  We hope to keep making improvements, so please let us know if you have any feedback! 

On the student side of things, we only have one full month of school left!  With that being said, we’re happy to share with you an end-of-year event scheduled for the second week of April.  Tag Week!

 

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The First Annual Tag Week is one of the biggest Student Initiatives we have worked on this year.  This marks the end of a year-long project we encouraged the students to take part in.  At the end of October, the Aquinas Fund handed out Giving Capsules (which we mentioned in the November blog) for the students to collect 1% of their class year to contribute to the Aquinas Fund.  For example, if you graduate in 2015, you would collect $20.15.  The idea behind the Giving Capsules is to educate the students on the importance of philanthropy and experience what it’s like to give back.  One of the biggest challenges we face every year is reaching and attaining young donors.  Our hope is to positively affect the culture of contributing to Aquinas College.

By ending the school year with Tag Week, we will drive the point home that so much on campus would not be here if it were not for our generous donors.  We will be marking, with a tag and ribbon, everything on campus that has been made possible by our donors.  This will include the Wege Student Center, the Grace Hauenstein Library, Browne Center, the Sturrus Sports and Fitness Center, the Moose Café and several more.  We are even taking volunteer students to wear backpack tags that read, “My load is lighter thanks to a donor!”  Friday night (5pm-9pm) at the Moose Café marks the end of Tag Week, where we will gather to collect the Giving Capsules from the students and host a pizza party for their participation. 

Stay tuned for more updates and events.  We love to hear your ideas and feedback, so please feel free to contact us anytime. 

Happy Spring!

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March 2012

It’s already March, and we have experienced an extraordinarily warm winter season in Michigan. As a lover of winter sports, this has been somewhat of a disappointment to me, though many people seem pleased with the mild temperatures. However, here at Aquinas, things have been going great.  Having a semi-quiet month, event-wise, has provided us with an opportunity to plan the exciting, bustling spring ahead.

 

One of our main focuses during this period has been on planning the Saints for Scholarships program to engage our current students.  We truly feel that if we can get the students involved while on campus, our message will be much clearer when they are alumni.  You may have read this in one of our earlier blogs, but one of the ways we are attempting to educate them is through our new giving capsule program, where they have been asked to donate 1% of their class year by April. In conjunction with this program, we are planning a new, exciting event called tag week.  During this week, things on campus that have been provided by the generosity of a donor will display a tag indicating so. That way, students see how the money donated is affecting their every-day lives in college.  At the end of this week, after much promotion, we will throw a pizza party for the students to turn in their donations. We hope that this new philanthropic effort on campus will be a huge hit! If you are a student, and you do not yet have a capsule, please feel free to contact one of us to receive one.  Also, please be sure to stop by the Moose on April 13th to show your support of the AQuinas Fund!  To read more about our Saints for Scholarships Giving Capsule program, please see below.

 

Also, after a long bout of calls to our Saints4Ever segment (or those alumni who have graduated in the past ten years -- again, more information can be found below), we are excited to report that we have gained over 200 alumni donors, many of which made their first gifts!  We are beyond thrilled to have these new graduates involved with the Aquinas Fund. We cannot thank our Saints4Ever enough for helping us by supporting this new project!  Having more of our young alumni on board with the AQuinas Fund effort, regardless of the size of the gift, helps our alumni giving percentage tremendously.

 

Next in line for our Student Foundation Representatives to begin calling are the parents of current students and parents of alumni, who have shown great support of the AQuinas Fund effort in the past. It is always a great feeling to see parents, who are already most likely helping with tuition, recognizing the value of the student scholarships.  We sincerely appreciate these parents’ continued support.

 

We are also looking ahead to our Employee Campaign in April, where we will focus on communicating to the staff and faculty of Aquinas to also engage them in giving. This month-long effort, starting with an email, but also including phone calls from Student Foundation Representatives, will encourage employees to participate to show their support for the deserving students and the scholarships that they need to attend our great school.

 

Lastly, we are planning two more major AQuinas Fund events. One Enchanted Evening is the 125th Anniversary version of the Evening of Elegance, and will feature Aquinas Alumna Sara Jakubiak '02, Soprano.  Then of course, we look forward to holding the Peter M. Wege Pro-Am, which will be taking place on May 21st at Blythefield Country Club.  These events, plus other Aquinas Fund events, can be found on our Special Events page.  

 

And, I would be amiss if I forgot the Alumni Breakfast, which has a whole new look and feel.  Guests have been asked to choose from a variety of topics and hosts, and over a hot complimentary breakfast, hear what's new at Aquinas.  This event will be held both on campus and regionally.  Donations and pledges made at the breakfast will be greatly appreciated and matched 100% by the Meijer Foundation.  In addition, new donors will benefit from the 2012 Wege Challenge. To see all of the areas that we plan to visit, please check out the Alumni Relations website.

 

Finally, due to its incredible potential, I just wanted to provide another run-down of our alumni about the Wege Challenge Match. If you’re a first-time donor, or have not donated in the past five years, your gift this year will trigger a $250 gift from the Wege Foundation to the Aquinas Fund. Click here to give now. Or contact Kate, Jannine or myself and one of us would be happy to help.

 

All the best, and thanks for reading!  

 

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February 2012

January at Aquinas College provided one of the most exciting and meaningful annual celebrations of the year.  Saint Thomas Aquinas Week honored the Patron Saint of Aquinas College with daily activities ranging from Recognition Shields for Dominican Sisters to yummy birthday cakes served in buildings across campus, and that was just on Monday morning!  Campus came alive with music, athletics, dinner theatre, live entertainment and the famous AQ Family Photo taken on the steps of AB.  “Junior Saints” were invited to campus for a weekend of active fun as well.  Opportunities for spiritual renewal were integrated into the celebration with the Dominican Heritage Mass, a Chartres Labyrinth Walk and thought provoking lectures. The weeklong honors culminated in the Saint Thomas Aquinas Patronal Mass where faculty and staff processed in full academic garb; a wonderfully impressive finale.

 

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Click here to see the Saint Thomas Aquinas Week photo gallery!

The excitement generated by this celebration is something I remember from my fifteen years of employment with Aquinas College. I am reminded of the rich educational gift—born of the inspiration and scholarship of Saint Thomas Aquinas—received not only by my four children and myself but by all alumni and current students.

 

 We are all members of the Aquinas College family.  We can make a family decision to support the Aquinas Fund in very tangible ways.  Current and future students will benefit, as we did, from the scholarships that enable them to pursue their educational goals.

 

Cheers !  Mary ’97.

 

P.S.  Save the date for the Alumni Breakfast, March 21, 7:45 a.m.  An exciting new format is promised.

 
January 2012

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I never really felt it before, when people would talk about how fast the past year had gone. However, I did this go ‘round! I’m sitting here at my desk, it’s 2012, which means I must have experienced 2011, but for the life of me, details are a blur!  It was a busy year!

 

I’m coming off a fabulous, relaxing holiday break…”day one” of fighting the “back to work” blues. Maybe that’s why things are a blur!?! The Campus is still quiet, as students don’t return until next week. I’m anxious to see how the year ended for the AQuinas Fund. However, calendar year-end numbers will not be available for a few days. As of November, overall, the AQuinas Fund, restricted and unrestricted, is up over last year. If you are not familiar with the difference between restricted and unrestricted, here’s a quick explanation:  restricted allows the donor to designate specifically where they want their money to go, like to the Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center, or to the Holmdene Gardens; unrestricted allows Aquinas to put the money toward the area(s) where it is most needed, which usually is the general scholarship fund. Thank you to ALL of you that have gotten us to this point.  This being Bridget’s and my second year as co-chairs of the Aquinas Fund, we are anxious to exceed last year’s numbers.

 

As I indicated in my August blog, a bigger challenge for us is our alumni giving rate.  We continue to fall a few points below our peer institutions with our giving percentage. I’m reading an article in the January 2012 CASE Currents Magazine that is discussing this very thing. This particular school started an annual giving student advisory board that was tasked with sponsoring fun and interesting events, as well as conveying the importance of annual giving. This past September, we started a student club, Saints for Scholarships, with this very idea in mind. We will continue working with them to raise awareness of the AQuinas Fund. And our Giving Capsule program, that Jannine blogged about in November is still in the works.

 

Here’s another reminder to our alumni about the Wege Challenge Match.  If you’re a first-time donor, or have not donated in the past five years, your gift this year will trigger a $250 gift from the Wege Foundation to the Aquinas Fund. Click here to give now.  Or contact Bridget, Jannine or myself and one of us would be happy to help.

 

Much to think about and strive toward in this new year. How would you engage current students and raise interest in giving back? We welcome your ideas!

Until next time,

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December 2011

Ready or not…it’s here…the “Holiday Season!” No matter when, where, how or what you are celebrating this year, I am sure you will spend time reflecting on what you are thankful for and blessed with. It may be certain people in your life, experiences you’ve had or successes you’ve realized. Whatever it is, I urge you to take the extra step and thank those people or others who have made the successes and experiences possibly by simply saying, “Thanks for being a part of my life; your support is important to me.” It will likely be the best present they receive, and the easiest one you give.

 

I witnessed about 25 Aquinas students doing just that a few weeks ago. On November 14th the AQuinas Fund hosted a letter signing at the Moose where these students signed 2,500 pre-printed letters that were sent to Aquinas Fund donors. I know that the donors felt appreciated when they opened their letter, signed by a student currently receiving the benefits of their gift to the Aquinas Fund. I also hope that the students who signed the letters, and all Aquinas students, realize that the scholarships they receive are made possible by generous individuals and organizations that make personal and financial choices, and maybe even sacrifices, so that they can give to the AQuinas Fund.

 

One of these donors is really raising the bar this year and encouraging Aquinas alumni to make a gift to the AQuinas Fund. When an Aquinas alumnus who has not donated in the past five years, or who has never donated, makes a gift of $25 or more to the Aquinas Fund, the Wege Foundation will donate an additional $250 to the Aquinas Fund! Your $25 turns into $275 for the AQuinas Fund.

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To send your own Aquinas themed e-postcard to a friend, click here!

 

This unique matching gift challenge was created to help raise the level of alumni giving (currently only 14%, while our benchmark schools achieve up to 31%) and to help drive home the point that ANY gift helps. Alumni often make the mistake of thinking that their gift would be too small to make a difference. Be assured – your gift is not too small! Any and every gift makes a difference.


And, there are even more chances for you to make a difference this year. Participate in or attend any of the Aquinas 125th Anniversary events planned, check out the Calendar of Events for upcoming seminars and speakers, re-connect with your fellow Aquinas alumni at the Alumni Breakfast or simply come take stroll around campus (or a virtual tour) because it’s more breathtaking every day!

 

Angela Korte, '96

 
November 2011

As Bridget explained in our last monthly blog; November 1st, Aquinas College celebrates the charism of Service, with Aquinas’ Summit on Service. 

 

About a week ago, I returned home from a Service Learning trip to Maine; my personal contribution to the 125 THOUSAND Acts of Service that Aquinas hopes to influence.   As the advisor of this trip, I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to volunteer at Acadia National Park while simultaneously building relationships with current Aquinas students.  Throughout the week, we worked hard building pathways, trails and generally cleaning up the park to prevent natural damage.  To see the gratitude of the park staff was truly inspiring.   More than this, we learned that Aquinas has formed such a reputation at Acadia National Park that they actually save projects for Aquinas Students. 

 

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With so many positive events and interactions throughout the week, I’m sure you can understand my excitement.  As my relationship with Aquinas College grows, I’ve added so many experiences to prove that Aquinas really does make a difference in our world today. 

 

Returning home, I’m filled with a sense of purpose and a refreshing amount of passion for working here at AQ!  Our institution exists for the students and that can easily be forgotten when we get lost in our daily work agenda.   

 

With an experience like this under my belt, I can’t wait for my next opportunity to build more relationships with students.  That being said, the Aquinas Fund is making a huge effort in connecting with these current students in hopes to leave them with a positive AQuinas Fund experience!   Our next attempt at connecting with the current students and stirring up some participation is with our giving capsules project.  We’re handing out giving capsules to the student body in attempt to teach students about philanthropy and giving back to your school.  The goal is to have the students throw pocket change into the giving capsule and turn in 1% of their class year in April.  Each student that chooses to participate will then contribute about $20.15 to the AQuinas Fund. 

 

We hope to take advantage of this teachable moment while the students are still with us on campus.   Through their support we want to continue building Aquinas into a great college with exceptional academics, opportunity and school spirit!

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October 2011

Hello readers! As I write this, the leaves are beginning to change, we are decorating for Halloween, and I am getting very excited for my birthday! That’s right - it’s already October, and we have already celebrated countless triumphs as a result of the hard work of many. What have we done, you ask? Well, here are just a few highlights:


Our first two events 125h Anniversary events in the celebration of the charism of prayer were an enormous success. We enjoyed a breezy day for the College Blessing and Rededication, where a momentous procession and celebration kicked off the new school year. Then, the 125h Anniversary Mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral helped to solidify one of the values that Aquinas College holds so dear: prayer. The other three signature events of the year show great promise to be not only successful, but also very deeply meaningful to not only myself, but also the staff, faculty, students, alumni, parents, neighbors and friends of Aquinas College. Keep on the lookout for the next event, which we are thrilled to kick off on the 1st of November: 125,000 Acts of Aquinas and the All Saints Day Summit on Service. It is truly something to be excited about!


Secondly, our Reflection event, which directly supports the Aquinas Fund, was a touching celebration of three lives that have made Aquinas College the place that it is today: Sr. Aquinas Weber, Ralph Hauenstein, and Peter M. Wege. A video of the three individuals talking about one another was featured, and the event was very well attended. The Aquinas Fund, as well as the rest of the college, could not thank these generous individuals enough for everything that they have done for the entire community.


I would be amiss to forget to mention Homecoming Weekend, where Aquinas College not only celebrated through class reunions, but also a myriad of other events that provided fun for all ages. In addition to our own Homecoming, Aquinas also celebrated ArtPrize 2011 with the rest of the Grand Rapids community in the Cathedral Square. What’s more: College officials also announced that "Cavalry, American Officers, 1921," LaPorte’s 2010 ArtPrize-winning entry, will be moved to Aquinas College following this year’s ArtPrize event. I can personally attest that it was not easy to leave Homecoming once I arrived. I applaud the efforts of all that were involved to make this such an enormous success.


Internally, we have hired a phenomenal new team of phone center students, who may be contacting you once you are able to review a mail piece and potential email that we will be sending out to all of the decades of graduates of Aquinas College.


To say that it has been a busy month, at this point, would probably be an understatement. However, truth be told, although it has been a constant buzz of activity, I am thrilled to be a part of such a momentous year with the new president, Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D., as well as the rest of the team that Aquinas College has been blessed with. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year will bring!


Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in more timely updates, please be sure to check out our Aquinas Alumni and Friends Facebook and Twitter! Goodbye for now!

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September 2011

Welcome, September! As much as I hate to see summer go, it’s good to have our students back on campus.

 

Just a couple short weeks ago, the campus collaborated in Helping Hands day.  This is a fun and exciting day where the incoming freshman are met with a team of smiling faces ready to make their move onto campus an easy one.  I was one of the lucky volunteers to participate in such an event.  What a workout! Box after box, and carload after carload, we assisted the families of the new freshman with the move; after all, their day was stressful enough. 

 

Convocation marked the beginning of the families’ farewell.  As they sat to listen to the hopeful and inspiring notes of President Juan Olivarez and other professors, it was easy to sense the coming of a bittersweet goodbye accompanied with the students both nervous and excited energy.   Watching the scene, it was easy to become overwhelmed with nostalgia as I remembered my first day at Aquinas.

 

As the school year begins, things are getting busy!  Kate mentioned in the August blog that we’re starting an AQuinas Fund club; I’m so excited about this and have the privilege to be the club advisor!  Yesterday some of the officers and I attended Saint Stock to recruit new members of the Saints for Scholarships Club.  This club will be creatively working to support The AQuinas Fund.  Our hope is to get the campus involved in a fun way that helps promote the ideals of The AQuinas Fund and rustle up some genuine appreciation for the scholarships that we work so hard to provide.  We’ve got a lot of cool ideas, so stay tuned!

 

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August 2011

Bridget Harrigan, Jannine Guyeskey and I are hoping to put a more personal touch to this area of Foundation…give you our thoughts and takes on what’s going on around Campus, how we’re doing in the AQuinas Fund, etc.  With that said, I get to start us off.

 

I’m feeling a little melancholy today… I feel like we’ve just started celebrating summer and yet today is August 1.  *gasp*  What???  August 1???  Yes…August 1 already!  We wait so long for the warm weather to come to Michigan, and now that it’s here, I don’t want it to end.  However, in 18 days we will welcome the Class of 2015!  And to add to that, we have also kicked off our anniversary year celebrating 125 years of Aquinas College – Celebrating the Past, Building the Future!  I can’t think of two better reasons to welcome in August, can you?!

 

We are also now one month into the new fiscal year.  If you didn’t know, our fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.  So July is our time to review the successes and challenges of the past year, as well as to plan our strategies for the upcoming year.  I’m thrilled to be able to report that we exceeded our AQuinas Fund goal of $1.3 million with a final 2010-2011 year-end number of $1,457.245!  Bridget Harrigan and I would like to thank ALL of you that helped make our first year as co-directors of the Aquinas Fund a successful one.  So now we look toward this new fiscal year.  And one of our biggest challenges continues to be our Alumni Participation.  Sadly, we ended the year with only a 13.3% alumni participation rate.  Out of our 10 benchmark institutions, there are only two whose rate is less than ours.  Based on an average, our giving rate should be around 20%.  We are focusing on this number because of the impact it has on our ability to receive grants and pledges from foundations and corporations.  They look to how the alumni participate when they look to see about donating their own money.  The more they see that our own alumni give back, the more likely they are to consider our cause.

 

Two students have approached us about starting an AQuinas Fund Club.  They want to make it known throughout Campus that this fund helps offset tuition costs for some well-deserving students.  Coupled with this, Bridget, Jannine and I are starting a student initiative with the incoming freshmen class.  We want to propose to them that each try to save $20.15 (their graduation year) throughout this academic year, all of which will be pooled at the end of the school year to be the Class of 2015’s 2011-2012 gift to the Aquinas Fund. Our current students become our alumni so we want to encourage participation in the Aquinas Fund now, while on Campus, so that the spirit of giving will continue after graduation.  What do you think about that?  Are you for or against getting the current students involved in donating to Aquinas College? Please email me and let me know! daviskat@aquinas.edu.

 

Enjoy the rest of the summer…and come to campus if you can, even if just to walk around for a bit.  It’s beautiful!

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To learn more, contact the Senior Director of Foundation Operations and Annual Giving , Kate Davis, at (616) 632-2817 or daviskat@aquinas.edu.