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SLU’s Accelerating Excellence Fundraising Campaign Reaches Milestone

ST. LOUIS (July 13, 2020) — Saint Louis University has reached another milestone in its $500 million Accelerating Excellence fundraising campaign. The University has announced that, with the close of fiscal year 2020, it has raised more than $400 million of the historic effort’s $500 million goal.

Accelerating Excellence: The Campaign for Saint Louis University aims to propel SLU to further national prominence as a Jesuit research university through investment in five strategic priorities: scholarships, academic excellence, business education, health sciences and athletics. The campaign, which impacts all schools and colleges across the University, launched its public phase in November 2018. 

“To hit this milestone in the first comprehensive fundraising campaign in SLU’s history fills me with gratitude and optimism,” said University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. “Higher education is at an inflection point as it faces the existential threat brought on by the coronavirus.  As we at SLU sacrifice and adapt to the challenges and uncertainties of the times, our benefactors continue to demonstrate their support of our students, faculty, physicians, and programs.” 

Pestello continued, “Our pursuit of excellence advances, as we once again tap into the well of the pioneering spirit that precipitated our founding –– to bear witness to our mission within the communities in which we live, work, and worship, together as OneSLU.” 

Several recent notable contributions helped the University achieve this high mark in the campaign, including a $1 million gift from Robert Wheeler Sr., Ph.D. (Grad A&S ’78) for advancing knowledge of basic human motivation through gradate psychology research and a recent $25,000 gift from Trudy Busch Valentine (Nursing ’80) supporting SLU's integration of tele-medicine stations in underserved North St. Louis as a means of increasing access to health care and ensuring health care equity. 

As a comprehensive campaign, Accelerating Excellence’s latest milestone is also made possible by a wide variety of alumni and donors, whose gifts of all sizes contribute to the effort’s total dollars raised. This spring, as COVID-19 changed the way students, faculty, clinicians, and staff learned, practiced and worked together, the Saint Louis University community quickly looked for new ways to contribute to the greater good. 

One result was the establishment of a giving initiative specifically aimed at supporting the University’s COVID-19 relief measures, such as vaccine research, community outreach efforts, and assisting families, staff and students in financial need. The drive raised more than $927,000 from almost 550 donors, including a $750,000 gift from Stephen C. Peiper, M.D. (Med ’77) and his wife, Zi-Xuan “Zoe” Wang, Ph.D., supporting the Center for Vaccine Development’s work on new vaccines for COVID-19 and other illnesses. 

Vice President for Development Sheila Manion said the response is an example of the care and resilience that makes up the SLU community. “We are so grateful for the generosity displayed by our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends,” Manion said. “Their selflessness and unity in spite of adversity embodies SLU’s Jesuit mission to be for and with others, and demonstrates what it means to be OneSLU.”

Both the COVID-19 giving initiative and the Accelerating Excellence campaign are ongoing. Gifts can be made to SLU’s COVID-19 relief efforts at For more information about or to support the Accelerating Excellence campaign, visit

About Accelerating Excellence 

Accelerating Excellence: The Campaign for Saint Louis University is a historic $500 million comprehensive fundraising effort designed to strengthen Saint Louis University by committing resources to the strategic priorities of academic excellence, health sciences, business education, athletics and scholarships. For more information about Accelerating Excellence, visit

About Saint Louis University 

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place. For more information, visit