President Monsignor James Shea thanks and congratulates benefactors at the completion of the largest capital campaign in the history of western North Dakota.

BISMARCK, ND — It took only three-and-a-half years for friends and donors across North Dakota and the rest of America to help the University of Mary raise $100,912,768 and blow past a Phase-I goal of $96 million. Phase-I by itself now stands as the largest successful capital campaign in the history of western North Dakota; Vision 2030,Education for Life, is a three-phased strategic plan and capital campaign totaling $272 million.

University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea diverts praise to God when given a standing ovation for his vision during 2030 Capital Campaign with around 400 friends and media on hand for the press conference.

“Words cannot express how honored and humbled we feel on this bright day,” said University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea at a press conference today on campus. “All of you worked with us tirelessly to enact the vision of Education for Life, a bold and expansive plan based on three essential themes of distinction, service, and relationships. What we dreamed about together is coming true even before our eyes, and your generosity represents an unprecedented investment in our students, in the future of North Dakota, and in the great enterprise of Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine education for a new generation.”

The co-chairs of Vision 2030, Senator Kevin Cramer and Fargo businesswoman Heather Butler, provided messages of congratulations, both to benefactors and to hundreds of volunteers involved in the multi-year effort.

“This wasn’t easy,” said Cramer. “Nothing important, pioneering, and life-giving is ever easy. We knocked on your doors and rang your phones. We sat at your tables and broke bread together. We made time and financial sacrifices together. In the end, we all came together sharing a common vision for what the future should hold for the University of Mary.”

Butler added, “The role of the University of Mary is not only essential to the future of our state, but also our country—and all of us play a significant role in its journey towards national prominence and distinction as we navigate its course to the year 2030.”

University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea tells 400 guests and media at today’s press conference that it’s time for a “nap” before planning for upcoming Phase II of the historic and record-breaking Vision 2030 Capital Campaign.

Completed components of Vision 2030 include 250,000 square feet of new campus space—virtually a new campus:a new 276-bed residence for women; a massive fieldhouse and wellness center; a new permanent landmark for the original, wooden cross that marked the University’s humble beginnings; a beautiful new prayer grotto for students and the public to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus and the University’s namesake; a new state-of-the-art Lumen Vitae University Center — the campus hub; a new Workforce Development Initiative that helps employers in this state attract new workers and provides an opportunity for them to retain and develop their employees; and the start of a new hands-on School of Engineering facility that, from day one, reimagines the way students learn from faculty and each other, and network with mentors and engineering firms across North Dakota and the United States.

The point person and leader of the historic Vision 2030 Capital Campaign is Jerome Richter, the University’s Vice President for Public Affairs.  He noted that during Phase-I of the campaign University of Mary received more than 7,500 gifts from contributors of all ages with a variety of donation amounts—from $5 to more than $10,000,000. But he says such an astonishing achievement speaks to everyone’s commitment to something bigger than themselves; it represents so much more than just a monetary mark, or bricks and mortar.

With the multi-media screen in the background, Jerome Richter, the point person and leader of the historic Vision 2030 Capital Campaign, tells students and faculty that friends and benefactors believe in you and Mary’s mission.

“We are truly blessed by everyone’s prayers, pledges and gifts,” added Richter. “More and more friends are coming on board as benefactors to the record-setting University of Mary Vision 2030 capital campaign. They’re doing so because people believe in our mission and see the University of Mary as an asset to the education of their children and grandchildren, and also a benefit to the entire state, region and beyond. They know it’s more than a professional degree, it’s an education for the whole of life.”

Over time, the University of Mary has cultivated relationships thanks in large part to the strong and deep heritage of its founders, the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery — true North Dakota trailblazers who arrived on the prairies of Dakota Territory in 1878 and then later started Mary College in 1959, providing traditional and continuing education to nurses and teachers.

“We are excited to see our mission growing, flourishing and being fulfilled before our very eyes, and in God’s witness to your love for this university,” stated Sr. Nicole Kunze, prioress of Annunciation Monastery. “In 1959, we set out to serve the religious, academic and cultural needs of this region and beyond. That’s been our mission from the start, but even still, we could never have imagined the growth over the years, or how many students would come through these doors. It was our dream — but now it has become a reality. Jesus’ own life as The Servant Leader gives us guidance and moral responsibility to lead by example for our students. It’s our hope and belief that our graduates will in turn continue to impact lives around the world and be a transformative influence on society for future generations.”

The growth of the University of Mary during these past three-and-a-half years of the Vision 2030 Capital Campaign has been astounding and record-breaking on many fronts.

High school juniors, seniors and their parents around the world are hearing about Bismarck’s University of Mary. The school recently received national recognition on Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) as a beacon in higher education for its remarkable affordability, and from the NCAA for its innovative and one-of-a-kind Year-Round Campus (YRC) Initiative, where students have the option of earning their undergraduate degree in 2.6 years and their master’s in four years.

Now, students from 47 states and 42 countries attend the University of Mary. Last year, Mary set an all-time enrollment record, and this year it is on pace to exceed that record by more than 10%. Because of that, the state’s only private Catholic university recently announced – for the second year in a row – that it is implementing a waiting list for the 2019 fall class of 2019 starting May 1.

“And we are just beginning,” exclaimed Shea. “This is our time!”