By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
Each year, the SIUE Foundation hosts a special SIUE Day to draw awareness to the needs of the university, hoping to strike a chord with just the right people regarding its ongoing fundraising mission.
Last year’s SIUE Day Community Networking Breakfast turned out to be a banner one, chaired by Jonathan Fowler, vice president of J.F. Electric in Edwardsville. The Fowler family, which had supported an early phase of the SIUE Engineering Building, was so moved by the success of the School of Engineering that they wanted to help complete its latest construction project. A substantial gift from the family will help finish the School of Engineering’s state-of-the-art Student Design Center.
“The Fowler’s gift is testament of why we host the SIUE Day event,” said Julie Babington, director of annual giving programs for the SIUE Foundation. “We’re able to showcase our advancements and emphasize the university’s future potential that can come to fruition with additional funding and support.”
This year, the university has asked a well-known surgeon to represent the cause.
The 13th annual SIUE Day Community Breakfast will focus on Dr. Theresa Schwartz, who specializes in breast surgical oncology at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. The event will be held from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in SIUE’s newly renovated Science East building. The SIUE Day Networking Breakfast is an opportunity for members of the community to strengthen their relationships with the university. The entire local business community is invited.
Schwartz, who holds the educational certification of FACS, or a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, graduated from SIUE as a double alumna, earning a bachelor’s in biological sciences/medical science, with a minor in chemistry, in 1999 and a master’s in biological sciences in 2000. She is an associate professor of surgery at Saint Louis University. She joined the Saint Louis University School of Medicine as a physician and surgeon in 2011 and is credited with helping create a multidisciplinary care approach that has led to an eleven-fold increase in the number of breast cancer diagnoses at the hospital.
In an interview with the SIUE Office of Alumni Affairs, Schwartz said she is excited about the future of the university.
“Seeing the growth and expansion that SIUE has experienced over the last 20 years is simply amazing,” she said. “You can feel the enthusiasm from faculty and leadership. Their spirit is what excites me, and it’s what should excite prospective students and their families. Any university can offer courses that allow you to earn a degree. But, SIUE’s spirit and energy are unmatched.”
Babington said the Foundation is honored to share Schwartz’s story.
“In April, the SIUE Office of Alumni Affairs hosted a networking breakfast featuring Schwartz as one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 honorees, and boy, is she sharp. The minute you meet her, you’re like, ‘Wow!’ She is an incredible alumna and we are proud to have her represent SIUE,” Babington said.
The SIUE Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that exists to support the mission, vision and values of SIUE.
On behalf of the university, the Foundation provides coordination and implementation of fundraising efforts across campus. The Foundation receives and manages all gifts given to SIUE and upholds the highest standards of fiscal responsibility and investment management, Babington said.
The efforts are conducted in relation to donors’ wishes, as well as the instructional, scholarship and public service pursuits of the university.
A call center, which provides jobs for approximately 25 students, annually reaches out to the alumni base for contributions.
SIUE’s alumni base is spread internationally, but the Foundation’s biggest support comes from just a few miles away. Many graduates stay in the region.
Where the Alumni Association hosts events to reconnect through happy hours and chapter gatherings, the SIUE Foundation aims to draw on the passions of alumni to support the University financially, possibly supporting the department from which they emerged.
“We are keenly interested in donor desire when we ideate partnerships that hold value for both the University and contributors,” said Vice Chancellor for University Advancement and CEO of the SIUE Foundation Rachel Stack. “We pursue opportunities to accomplish our philanthropic goals creatively, and are proud to advance the institution and work with supporters to continuously demonstrate its unique impact on the community and region.”
There are also a number of major-gift fundraisers among many of the professional schools, such as the Schools of Education, Health and Human Behavior, Dental Medicine, Engineering and so forth.
In addition, a women’s philanthropic group called The Meridian Society promotes female leadership and supports school projects.
The Foundation’s efforts are transparent and systematic. Prospect researchers look for those who might make a good fit to possibly make a gift. A gift and records team records all contributions. A data administrator helps keep track of all the files.
There is an annual alumni and friends direct mail campaign in both the fall and spring, as well as an SIUE Day, faculty, staff and retiree campaign in November held in conjunction with Giving Tuesday (Nov. 28), a global day for giving back.
For more information on Giving to SIUE, visit siue.edu/give/.