Capital Campaign | Featured

More Than Bricks

Franciscan Magazine Homepage > Summer 2022 > More Than Bricks

Capital Campaign | Featured

More Than Bricks

Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign reaches its initial $75M goal and moves forward to its next phase.

Summer 2022

In This Article

“Do something great with this.”

That was the one request of a longtime friend of Franciscan University in making a surprise gift of $20 million.

From that request and generous gift grew the Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign.

It’s the most ambitious capital campaign in Franciscan University of Steubenville’s history, with a Phase One goal of raising $75 million.

That goal has been reached!

Franciscan University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, ’89 made the surprise announcement at the end of Franciscan’s Commencement Exercises on May 14. The news received sustained applause from the trustees, faculty, staff, graduates, parents, and friends gathered in Finnegan Fieldhouse for the Science Commencement and Arts Commencement ceremonies.

Noting that many members of the audience were “the reason we made that goal,” Father Pivonka told graduates, “By the generosity of your friends, family, relatives, we’ve been able to reach the goal of $75 million that allows us new academic programming, new scholarships, new institutes, and ultimately, a new academic building and conference center.”

The Rebuild My Church Campaign’s overarching goals include enhancing academics, increasing financial aid, and expanding evangelistic outreach.

Although Franciscan has met its initial $75 million goal, the campaign will continue, Father Pivonka said.

“I think the Lord has more for us. He has more that he wants to do and more ways he wants to bless us. So, we want to thank you so much and thank the Lord for his faithfulness in our campaign and continue to ask the Lord that we as a university would be able to build well,” he concluded.

Bob Hickey ’96, vice president of Advancement, says, “It’s a humbling success story.”

He attributes that success to five things:

  • the prayerful leadership of Father Dave and the friendships he has;
  • the Board of Trustees, who lent their full support to the campaign, along with their contributions;
  • the energy and enthusiasm of the “dynamic, charismatic” campaign chairman, Mickey Pohl;
  • the hard work of faculty and staff who have made Franciscan so widely known and appreciated;
  • and most of all, “the best donors and benefactors.”

Their donations have ranged from $25 to millions of dollars, and they’ve given more than money. Each gift has a face and a reason, and the capital campaign team has been humbled by their inspiration and encouragement: “It’s a privilege to be in the middle of these stories,” says Hickey.

One donor was visibly moved at being asked for a sizable donation, saying, “I am so honored that you think enough of me to ask me for this gift.” Another gift was a very specific $360,000: “They wanted their gift amount to represent conversion,” says Hickey.

The centerpiece of the campaign is the new Christ the Teacher Academic Hall and Conference Center (pictured below), intended to embody in bricks and mortar the intersection of fides et ratio, faith and reason.


“It’s a humbling success story.”


The academic wing of the building will house the business, engineering, and nursing programs, including a state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab.

This expansion is “way overdue,” according to Hickey, and will “breathe life into these programs, which have outpaced the physical capacity of the campus.”

Official groundbreaking for Christ the Teacher is slated for this fall.

The conference wing will include a large meeting space to relieve some of the burden on the overworked Finnegan Fieldhouse.

When St. Francis answered Christ’s call to “rebuild my Church,” he quickly discovered he was called to restore with more than bricks. The capital campaign, too, aims to build up not just buildings and academic programs, but also the student body, through scholarships and financial aid.

Generous benefactors from Western Pennsylvania have provided significant financial aid for students in the Greensburg, AltoonaJohnstown, Erie, and Pittsburgh dioceses who choose Franciscan University through the St. Pope John Paul II Scholarship.

It’s a game changer for many prospective students, 94 of whom have received John Paul II Scholarship offers for fall 2022. “For families with many children and limited incomes,” says Father Dave, “this aid makes a Franciscan University education more accessible—or even possible.”

Calling the John Paul II Scholarship “truly a blessing,” Dr. Maureen G. Marsteller, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Greensburg, says, “We praise God and give thanks to our donors for providing the opportunity for our graduates to continue their Catholic education at a university where they will be supported spiritually and challenged academically as they discern God’s plan for their lives.”

Energized by surpassing the $75 million goal, Hickey and the campaign team are already forging ahead on the second phase of the campaign, which will offset the increased costs due to inflation for Christ the Teacher Hall.

“We feel confident we can raise the additional $10 million we need to construct our new academic and conference building,” Hickey says. “That’s because our confidence lies not in ourselves, but in Jesus Christ and the love of our benefactors for our students and our mission. I don’t know how it will all come together, but I know it will be amazing!”


Rebuild My Church Campaign Surpasses Phase One Goal

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly” (1 Thess. 1:2).

Through the generosity of alumni and friends, Franciscan University’s Rebuild My Church Campaign has surpassed its Phase One goal with $75,023,212—more than double the amount raised in our last campaign!

With your prayers and gifts, Franciscan will keep this exciting momentum going with Phase Two, whose $10 million goal will cover increased costs for Christ the Teacher Hall due to inflation, as well as other capital needs associated with campus infrastructure.


Phase One Campaign Goal: $75 Million

Total Raised: $75,023,212

Case Components:

  • Christ the Teacher Hall ($48 Million)
    • Total Raised: More than $47 Million
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships ($18 Million)
    • Total Raised: More than $21 Million
  • Outreach and Evangelization ($5 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1.5 Million
  • Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship ($2 Million)
    • Total Raised: $2 Million
  • Criminal Justice Major ($1 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1 Million
  • Nursing SIM Laboratory ($1 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1 Million

Phase Two Campaign Goal: $10 Million

Total Need: $10 Million


Learn More:


Franciscan Friends

Mickey Pohl

Paul Michael “Mickey” Pohl has been a friend of Franciscan University since 1989. He’s watched—and enabled—its growth and influence; it’s fair to say, for instance, that without Pohl’s legal work, there might not be an Austrian campus at the Kartause Maria Thronus Iesu.

Pohl recognizes the need for resources. The University needs more room to grow, and it needs more resources to take advantage of opportunities. It’s time to take things to the next level.

Mickey Pohl, Campaign Chair


“I’ll help,” he said to Father Dave Pivonka, TOR.

“We’d like you to be chair,” Father Dave replied.

Pohl resisted, and Father Dave persisted. “In for a penny, in for a pound,” said Pohl, laughing. He is now the chairman of the Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign.

Pohl has been unsparing in his support for Franciscan University.

“I’ve been part of the University for more than 30 years,” he says. “I’ve seen what’s been accomplished. It’s been amazing.”

Pohl himself is amazing. He has over 40 years of successful big-case litigation and was the oldest continually serving partner at the international law firm Jones Day. He attended Princeton as an undergrad, where he and Steve Forbes became good friends. He served in the Marine Corps before going on to law school. He was named to the Legal 500 Hall of Fame in 2017 among many, many other honors. And, now retired, along with helping Franciscan, Pohl serves as chairman of the Board of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.

Not long after Jones Day asked him to open a Pittsburgh office, a friend told him he had to go to Steubenville. So, he set up a meeting with Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, who served as president from 1974-2001.

“He was a holy man, and a great lawyer,” says Pohl.

And Pohl helped Father Mike make amazing things happen.

Today, there are still “so many opportunities” for the University. The challenge is “not to be timid in going to the next level; and not to overreach with pride and hubris.”

Pohl continues to take the long view, working to build up Franciscan as one of the great Catholic universities in the world.

“We want to build something that will still be around 200 years from now,” says Pohl. “Let’s do it the right way.”

The University has great faculty and dedicated people, he continues. “It needs buildings to house students and to broaden the range of programs. We’ve got great theology, great history, great philosophy. We need to be a great engineering school, and science and business, so we can seed the world with people called to a variety of vocations.”

Franciscan University keeps surprising, says Pohl, going in new and unexpected directions.

“If we continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit and stay faithful to the magisterium, no one can tell where he will lead us,” he says.

“But it will be wonderful.”


Tom Gentile

There’s power and value in getting involved with something you believe in; even more so when generosity is a family legacy.

Tom Gentile has volunteered his time and lent his support to Franciscan University in many ways over the years, but he’d rather talk about his parents, Tony and Nina Gentile, and their long history of giving.

“My family’s legacy with respect to the University is beautiful and compelling,” says Tom. “What they did for this place was life-changing and not just for the students.”

Tom, who completed his third term as a Jefferson County, Ohio, commissioner in December 2020, is president of Ohio River Collieries Company, founded by his late father.

“My father’s life was extraordinary,” says Gentile.

Tom Gentile


Tony was born in Aquila, Italy, but moved to the U.S. when he was only 8. He served in the Army during World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Silver Star. He served as military governor in Germany near the Austrian border, where he was responsible for more than 2,000 people released from concentration camps.

Tony served on Franciscan’s Board of Trustees from 1977 to 1980. He and Nina gave generously to scholarship funds and the campaigns to build Finnegan Fieldhouse and SS. Cosmas and Damian Science Hall. Tony was an avid painter, and he and Nina also donated fine art to the University, pieces now housed in the gallery that bears their names in the J.C. Williams Center.

Decades ago, Tony encouraged Tom to lend his support to Franciscan University as well, which he did, and does, extending the long legacy of service and philanthropy of the Gentile family.

“During times of my life when things were going sideways,” says Gentile, “my involvement with Franciscan was a bright spot that lifted me up.”

Go to Top