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A Million Dreams: The UST 75th Anniversary Gala Raises $2.4 Million

A million dreams do come true! To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the University of St. Thomas threw a spectacular, record-breaking gala bringing together its UST community ­— faculty, staff, alumni, friends and benefactors. One thousand guests toasted with signature French 75’s in 1940’s style from the Hilton-Americas ballroom, while raising critical funds for student scholarships and program excellence in the spirit of St. Thomas. 

On this fantastic evening, Saturday, May 7, St. Thomas raised a record-breaking $2.4 million dollars for scholarships. Special thanks to philanthropist, consummate Catholic and ultimate party-thrower, Gala Chair Trini Mendenhall, who, along with a top-notch host committee, planned every detail of the gala, including an exceptional private performance by R&B chart-toppers Boyz II Men.

The crowd, spanning generations, sang along to the group’s classics, including “End of the Road,” “A Song for Mama,” and “Motownphilly.” Dotting the crowd were clergy in collars, documenting the revelry on their phones and dancing the night away.

With deep gratitude, President Richard Ludwick recognized donors for their gifts of scholarships, which, he pointed out, unlock the doors to transformational paths for students. Outstanding Alumni Champions Aileen, MBA ’86 and Andy McCormick, Jan and Oniel Mendenhall, MBA ’04, and Kathy ’69 and Joe Ridley ’69 were instrumental in boosting alumni support for the event.

Recognizing the beloved honoree, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, was the true highlight of the evening. He was recognized for his leadership and service as UST’s seventh president, including shepherding the University through a significant capital campaign which completed the Academic Mall and led UST into the 21st Century.

The live auction, spearheaded by Auction Chair and former UST Board of Directors Chair Michele Malloy, included a six-night stay at the beautiful Rosemary Beach, Florida, vacation home of Trini Mendenhall and Jan and Oniel Mendenhall, as well as a 4-carat diamond bracelet handcrafted by the master craftsmen at Zadok Jewelers, in celebration of UST’s diamond jubilee. The grand finale was a Holy Roman Holiday with behind-the-scenes access to the Vatican with Archbishop Miller and a private audience with Pope Francis, making it a priceless package. Gifts to the Paddles Up appeal supported student scholarships and were matched by a generous $100,000 gift from the Hildebrand Foundation.  

A Million Dreams 75th Anniversary Gala sparkled in its magnificence, breaking all attendance records and monies raised for scholarships in the University’s long-standing history. As part of the historic event, donors’ names will be remembered on a permanent 75th-anniversary recognition wall on campus.

About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA '01 Soliz

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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