The St. John’s College Freeing Minds Campaign Raises More Than $326 Million
Most successful capital campaign in college history accomplishes low tuition and robust student supports, while preserving its distinctive program of study.
[July 10, 2023] — St. John’s College today announced that the Freeing Minds capital campaign has met and exceeded its original $300 million goal and $325 million stretch goal, ultimately raising more than $326 million for the third oldest college in America, with campuses located in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“A $325 million campaign goal for a college of our size is nearly unheard of,” says collegewide and Santa Fe President Mark Roosevelt. “And to have even exceeded that goal—it’s stupendous.”
Publicly launched in 2018, Freeing Minds is the most successful campaign in the college’s history, eclipsing the $133 million raised in its previous campaign, which ended in 2008. A hallmark of the college is its distinctive interdisciplinary program, in which 200 of the most revolutionary great books from across 3,000 years of human thought are explored in student-driven, discussion-based classes. The Freeing Minds campaign has preserved that program for future generations, while building a stronger infrastructure of student supports, and slashing tuition, making St. John’s one of the most affordable private liberal arts colleges in the country.
“We are so deeply grateful to the alumni, students, staff, faculty, parents and friends who participated in the campaign,” says Annapolis President Nora Demleitner. “Thanks to their incredible generosity, St. John’s College is able to offer our distinctive curriculum to an ever-more diverse student body, including international students and those from all socioeconomic backgrounds, enriching the vibrancy of our campus community.”
The Freeing Minds campaign was designed to shift St. John’s from a tuition-based model to one centered on philanthropy. When the college reduced tuition by one-third in 2018, it eliminated a decade of price increases and reinforced the college’s mission that it truly does offer an “education for all.” Of the nearly $190 million that has been received by the college to date, $80 million was added to the St. John’s Endowment, a collection of permanently invested gifts that generate a growing stream of annual income for the college, with an additional $67 million committed to continue to grow the endowment.
The campaign has helped increase financial aid and meet operating expenses, while providing Pell Grant matches for 100 percent of Pell recipients, more robust health, wellness, and academic supports, such as a summer bridge program for first-generation and underrepresented students, and, thanks to a gift by outgoing Board of Visitors and Governors chair Ron Fielding (A70), the ability to offer a paid internship opportunity to every student who wants one. Other campaign gifts have improved students’ living and learning environment and put the college on a path to sustainability by allowing the Santa Fe campus to go solar and renovating residence halls across both campuses, including a $15 million restoration to the largest residence hall on the Annapolis campus to become a student hub complete with a new bookstore and coffee shop.
More than 7,300 donors participated in the campaign. A $50 million matching gift from alumni Warren and Barbara Winiarski’s Winiarski Family Foundation is the largest single gift ever given to the college, but more than 96 percent of all donations were $5,000 or less. Significantly, 2,500 donors to Freeing Minds made their first gift ever.
“Everyone who contributed to this campaign has made a world of difference for the college, for its future,” says incoming chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors and chair of the Campaign Steering Committee Warren Spector (A81).
Future philanthropic goals for the college are to continue to support the Annual Fund through activities such as the new St. John’s Giving Day, and to meet the $25 million Pritzker Challenge, a matching gift from the Jay Pritzker Foundation that contributes $1 for every $2 gift made in support of much-needed renovations on the campuses. Significantly, Freeing Minds has already helped the college reach one-third of that $50 million goal, which must be raised within ten years.
ABOUT ST. JOHN’S COLLEGE
St. John’s College is the most distinctive college in the country due to our interdisciplinary program, in which 200 of the most revolutionary great books from across 3,000 years of human thought are explored in student-driven, discussion-based classes. By probing world-changing ideas in literature, philosophy, mathematics, science, music, history, and more, students leave St. John’s with a foundation for success in such fields as law, government, research, STEM, media, and education. Located on two campuses in two historic state capitals—Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico—St. John’s is the third-oldest college in the United States and has been hailed as the “most forward-thinking, future-proof college in America” by Quartz and as a “high-achieving angel hovering over the landscape of American higher education” by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more at sjc.edu.