October 19, 2012

University Communications

Gala to Mark 25 Years of Progress at Saint Louis University

SLU alumna Peggy Ritter and St. Louis businessman Sam Fox are co-chairing the event, which will honor President Lawrence Biondi.

This fall, Lawrence Biondi, S.J., celebrates his 25th year as Saint Louis University's president, making him one of the longest-serving presidents ever at an American Jesuit university.

Lawrence Biondi, S.J.,
Lawrence Biondi, S.J.

Next spring, SLU will mark this major milestone with the "25th Anniversary Gala: Celebrating Father Biondi's Leadership of Saint Louis University." The black-tie event will be held Saturday, May 4, at Chaifetz Arena.

Peggy Ritter and Sam Fox will serve as the co-chairs for the gala, which is the University's first in many decades.

"Peggy Ritter and Sam Fox are two of St. Louis' most influential citizens, and they share SLU's commitment to improving the community and the world," said Thomas H. Brouster, Sr., chairman of the Saint Louis University Board of Trustees. "We are honored that they have generously agreed to lead the planning for this historic event."

"I am delighted and honored to serve with my friend, Sam Fox, as co-chair of the special gala to mark Father Biondi's milestone anniversary," Ritter said. "At this event we will recognize and celebrate the transformational contributions that Father has made to the University and the St. Louis community during the past 25 years. We hope many people will join us to honor this remarkable man."

"Father Biondi's accomplishments — for Saint Louis University, for the strategic neighborhood in which it's situated and for the whole St. Louis area — have been nothing short of astonishing," Fox said. "It is my privilege to participate in this tribute."

About Peggy Ritter

Peggy Ritter
Peggy Ritter

A SLU alumna, Peggy Ritter is one of the region's most active philanthropists. Currently, she serves on the Board of the St. Louis Zoo Association, the Commission of the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Foundation Board of Mercy Medical Center and many others. She also has chaired numerous charity events for local nonprofits, including the St. Louis Symphony Gala and the Missouri Botanical Garden's 150th Anniversary Gala. This also will be the 25th year she has co-chaired the Bob Costas Benefit for Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.

Ritter has received a number of honors for her philanthropic efforts and her commitment to the community. In 1999, she was named a "St. Louis Woman of Achievement" in the area of cultural enrichment. She also received the 2006 "Woman of the Year" award from Variety, the Children's Charity of St. Louis.

About Sam Fox

Sam Fox
Sam Fox

Sam Fox is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and founder of Harbour Group, a St. Louis-based private operating company with a demonstrated record of success in founding, acquiring and building high-quality companies. An active civic leader for more than a quarter of a century, he serves on the boards of Civic Progress, Washington University in St. Louis, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Boy Scouts of America-Greater St. Louis Area Council, and many others. Each year, his Fox Family Foundation donates to hundreds of organizations devoted to basic human needs in St. Louis, across the nation and around the world.

Fox has earned numerous awards for his service and leadership. Most recently, at the behest of King Albert II, he became the third American ever to receive the Kingdom of Belgium's Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown. In 2003, he was named St. Louis' "Citizen of the Year." A year earlier, the People's Republic of China presented him with the highest award a foreign businessman can receive from that country, the Marco Polo Award. Fox and his wife, Marilyn, have received honorary degrees from Saint Louis University, as well as SLU's highest honor for service to humanity, the Sword of Ignatius Loyola.

About Father Biondi

Since his inauguration in 1987, Lawrence Biondi, S.J., has led the University through a remarkable era of transformation and progress.

Biondi's contributions to SLU and the St. Louis Metropolitan Region have been widely heralded. Among his many honors and accolades, he has earned the prestigious St. Louis Award, the Leon R. Strauss Urban Pioneer Award and the John D. Levy Human Relations Award. He also was named St. Louis' "Citizen of the Year" in 2005.

At the national level, Biondi has received the Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Ticket Information

Individual tickets for the May gala are $1,000. Tables of 10 may be purchased for $10,000. Individual and corporate sponsorships also are available. All funds raised from the event will go the 25th Anniversary Fund for Scholarships and Academic Initiatives. For more information, call 314-977-7700 email gala@slu.edu or visit www.slu.edu/gala.

25th Anniversary Gala type treatment


An Era of Progress

During the past 25 years, Lawrence Biondi, S.J., has sought to recruit the finest students, to increase the University's academic reputation, to establish SLU as a major research center, to modernize the campus and to help revitalize SLU's Midtown neighborhood.

A comparison between the academic year before Biondi became president (1986-1987) and now reveals a number of significant advancements for the University, including:

  • The size of the student body has grown from 9,869 to 13,981.
  • The average ACT score of incoming freshmen has gone up five points from 22.7 to 27.2.
  • SLU's Midtown campus has more than doubled in size, from 113 acres with 62 buildings to 268 acres with 131 buildings. 
  • The University's endowment has grown from $93 million to nearly $853 million, ranking it among the largest for all Jesuit institutions. 
  • Annual research funding has grown from $8.9 million to $51 million.

SLU began the 2012-2013 academic year by welcoming one of the biggest and brightest freshman classes in history, drawing new students from all over the United States and from around the world.

The University is currently developing a donated building in downtown St. Louis into a state-of-the-art facility for its School of Law — a move that is being lauded by city and civic leaders.

And SLU recently completed renovations to its Pius XII Memorial Library, while work is under way to transform a historic gymnasium into a welcoming Center for Global Citizenship.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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