Capital Campaign

Invested in Our Students

Franciscan Magazine Homepage > Winter 2024 > Invested in Our Students

Capital Campaign

Invested in Our Students

Three trustees reflect on their role on the board and why they see Franciscan University as worthy of their service and support.

Winter 2024

In This Article

President’s Letter

Dear Friends,

It’s a gift to see the Holy Spirit’s movements of grace take flesh on campus. I’m watching Christ the Teacher Hall grow up; seeing our students enjoy our upgraded athletic facilities and increased scholarships and financial aid; and hearing the buzz about Christ the King Chapel renovations to come.

As always, I’m grateful to all our benefactors who, with their gifts and prayerful support, are making the Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign a resounding success! But I’d especially like to highlight the important role of Franciscan University’s Board of Trustees in getting this campaign off the ground.

Our trustees are a diverse group: religious, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and business executives and owners. Each brings a unique perspective and a wealth of experience and expertise. United in their love for Franciscan University’s mission, they work together to keep us on mission and financially secure. Many of them support Franciscan University with substantial financial gifts as well. And, as you’ll see in the following article, they have more great ideas than we can keep up with!

When it came time to decide whether to step out in faith with our very ambitious Rebuild My Church Campaign, our leadership team was overwhelmed by their support. Many of them had been sensing the Holy Spirit’s movement as well. The trustees said it made sense. It was time.

So much to give thanks and praise for! Our wonderful trustees. Our alumni and friends. Our students, faculty, staff, and friars. I thank God for you all—and for the Lord’s countless blessings!


Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89


Franciscan University of Steubenville


Invested in Our Students

“I see donations as investments,” says Dr. Dan McMahon, “and I look for an investment that has a high return.”

Dan is a pediatric genitourinary surgeon in Ohio. He and his wife, Nancy, have invested generously in Franciscan University for many years. They like the returns.

The two oldest of their six children, Meagan ’12 and Erin ’14, attended Franciscan. The other four were interested in Franciscan, but it didn’t have the majors they wanted. One son, for instance, wanted to be an engineer. Franciscan didn’t have full engineering programs at that time. That was a problem, says Dan. He and Nancy supported a science scholarship; then when the Rebuild My Church Campaign opened, they donated to the engineering lab.

Dan is a member of Franciscan University’s Board of Trustees, a group of 23 priests, religious, and lay people with diverse careers, experience, and opinions but unified in their work to protect and promote the mission of Franciscan University.

“The world is falling apart. The culture of death is accelerating,” says Dan. What stands against that is “a well-structured family and a well-structured Church. We give money to Franciscan to build the Church in society.”

Which sometimes means building buildings. And training the building engineers.

“Engineering teaches thinking in a rigorous way,” says Dan. “It’s a good thing in its own right.”

Board of Trustees member W. Paul Jones, a retired retail executive whose son Bill ’13 is a Baron track and field All-American, agrees that Franciscan University is key to renewing the culture. “That little university on that little hilltop is so important to the entire Church.”

Paul says that when University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, presented the Board of Trustees with his vision for a massive building project, and an ambitious capital campaign to fund it, there were no dissenters. No shred of doubt.

“It’s big, but we went absolutely full throttle.” He credits Father Dave’s grounding in both faith and competence. “He’s putting forth the vision and direction, with stability, calm, focus, and competence.”

Even so, the trustees didn’t simply rubber-stamp his vision for the University.

“We have a strong Board of Trustees, with a diverse
skill set and experience” to aid in discernment of all major initiatives. Where is higher education headed? Where should Franciscan be headed? How does it grow and attract students? The mission, says Paul, is about mind, body, and spirit.

“We need to attract students” with top-notch academics and facilities, he says. “We need academic space. We didn’t have enough space for science, technology, and engineering programs. Christ the Teacher Hall will address those needs. We need sports. So, we’re upgrading the athletic facilities. We’re increasing the size of the chapel by 40 percent and refreshing it and making it more beautiful. Mind, body, and spirit.

“And we can’t just build. We have to be strategic, thoughtfully and carefully allocating resources to accomplish all these objectives.”

Paul has been married to Jill for almost 40 years. The oldest of their five children attended Franciscan University, largely through the witness of Paul’s cousin, a Franciscan University alumus.

“He joyfully engaged in his faith,” says Paul. “His life, dispositions, and manner had a joy grounded in his faith and in his prayer life. Our kids loved that.”

That joyful Catholicism that permeates Franciscan University students is what attracted the Jones family to Franciscan University in the first place and is a large part of why they support it so strongly.

Trustee Dr. Paula Trzepacz is a medical doctor whose career has included neuropsychiatry, academia, pharmaceutical industry, and groundbreaking (and award-winning) Alzheimer’s research. She went into medicine at a time when few women did. She brings to the Board of Trustees not only her professional expertise, but also her experience of success in what’s often labeled a male field.

“We should be embracing all things for greater academic excellence,” says Paula.

Especially close to her heart is expanding science and pre-med programs. She and her husband, Robert (also a medical doctor), started and endowed the Saints Cosmas and Damian Future Physicians Endowed Scholarship Fund for Franciscan’s pre-med students. With Christ the Teacher Hall housing three professional degrees, she’s hoping for “cross discipline” and “interesting conversations.” Paula wants to continue to build up the pre-med program to form leaders in medicine, “people of faith and people who think differently around ethical and medical issues,” who will bring conversations of value to the medical field.

“We need a bigger science building,” she muses. “I’m hoping that’s on the horizon.”

She’s also thrilled about the expansion of the existing Christ the King Chapel.

“Right now, it’s so intimate and humble, and means so much to so many people. But we need to renovate to accommodate more people.”

About Father Dave’s leadership Paula says, “We are very blessed with his talents, charism, and spirituality. He’s very forward thinking. It’s why the capital campaign has been successful.”

Like Father Dave and the other trustees, Paula is rejoicing in the success of the Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign, even as their work continues to raise the remaining funds for Christ the Teacher Hall. She’s also helping discern what’s the next assignment from the Holy Spirit.

“How do we think outside the box to broaden the experience for the students? How do we help their learning habits? It’s not easy to be a college student. These are critical formation years. How do we help them imbibe all the great things they are being taught?”

Faculty, too: “How do we bring more experts to teach, while maintaining affordability?”

Though Franciscan has a long list of other needs, she would also love to see an expansion in the arts on campus: visual arts, sacred art, filmmaking, theater, music, technical production.

“This is how we impact society, with expressions of beauty from a Catholic perspective.” Paula herself is an artist, whose paintings include meditations on the passion, with a “contemporary way of approaching the Stations of the Cross.”

Paula, Dan, and Paul, in their unique ways, affirm that in their work as trustees they serve the students first.

Rebuild My Church Campaign? For the students.

Buildings, labs, gyms, fields, chapel? For the students.

Scholarship endowments? Check

The trustees are invested in the success of the students: in the classroom, in athletics, in their faith journeys, in their careers and families, and ultimately, in eternal joy. While the visible signs of the Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign are beautiful new or renovated structures, success means graduates equipped to rebuild the Church, culture, and society. And this is worthy of financial support. As Dan says, it’s an investment with a great rate of return.

And the trustees are pleased with Father Dave’s ability to have an audacious idea along with an actionable plan to bring it to fruition.

Says Paul, “The Holy Spirit delivered the guy who has what it takes to build on the University’s legacy and get things done. He’s an advocate and an ambassador, a leader, shepherd, and manager.”

Finally, they spoke to the power of joy: The magnetism of the joy of the students. The witness of joy from alumni.

“Franciscan faithfully and joyfully presents the Gospel,” says Dan. “We witness that when we go there. The student body radiates joy.”

Paul says, “I travel a lot, and in churches in different places, I will see people, and I can tell they went to Franciscan. That is an incredible phenomenon—that you can identify Franciscan grads by the joy they radiate. You can pick them out a mile away, all over the country.”

Franciscan University is a “special, unique, uncommon place doing something not being done on the entire planet,” says Paul. “Their work is transforming the world. The education is designed to transform the world. It’s setting the standard for other great schools. As devout—or someone who’d like to be—faithful Catholics, what better cause to put money, time, and service into?”

Says Dan, “I hope Franciscan grows substantially. I’d like to see its reach double.”

An excellent rate of return.


Rebuild My Church Campaign Progress

“The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you!”

(Num. 6:24-25)

May the Lord be gracious to our many friends and alumni whose generous gifts speed Franciscan University toward completing our new $110 million Rebuild My Church Campaign goal. May the Lord bless and keep you for being a kind benefactor to our students!


Case Components Amounts Raised (Goals):

• Christ the Teacher Academic Hall and Conference Center ($59 Million)

  • Total Raised: $49,051,644

• Financial Aid and Scholarships ($18 Million)

  • Total Raised: $33,695,096

• Outreach and Evangelization ($5 Million)

  • General: $2,873,659 ($2.5 Million)
  • PhD Theology Program: $2,676,196 ($2.5 Million)

• Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship ($2 Million)

  • Total Raised: $2,000,000

• Criminal Justice Major ($1 Million)

  • Total Raised: $1,000,000

• Nursing SIM Laboratory ($1 Million)

  • Total Raised: $1,000,000

• Christ the King Renovation and Expansion ($10 Million)

  • Total Raised: $9,800,000

• Washington, D.C., Extension ($10 Million)

  • Total Raised: $500,000


New Overall Campaign Goal: $110 Million

TOTAL RAISED: $102,596,595 (as of January 3, 2024)

Number of Gifts: 1,779

Average GiftT: $57,670

Learn More:

Watch our latest campaign video:

Save the Date

We hope you’ll join us for these special events.

  • March 3-4: Mission Parish Trip at San Marco Church* Marco Island, Florida
  • March 17-25: Parents’ Week, Gaming, Austria
  • April 17-22: Guadalupe Pilgrimage with Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR
  • May 11-20: Healing Pilgrimage to France with
    Fr. Nathan Malavolti, TOR, and Heather and Jake Khym
  • Aug 6-13: Alaska Pilgrimage Cruise with the Ministry of the Wild Goose, Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR, and Heather and Jake Khym
  • Summer 2024: Steubenville Conferences

More Pilgrimage Info: or 740-284-5847 / [email protected]

*Contact Bob Hickey, Vice President of Advancement, for details on the San Marco Church Mission: [email protected]/800-783-6447

Go to Top