Generous donor funding reduces potential barriers to future students

Take the Lead campaign donation funds a new program to help students entering college have access to important opportunities and support networks.

Anika Besst , Reporter

A new initiative to assist incoming students was launched earlier this spring, thanks to a sizable donation.

Released on February 26, 2020, the Leadership Scholars Program hopes to increase student retention and graduation results through many resources and support systems related to on-campus housing, internship and other career opportunities and making the transition into college smoother.

This program will help support students considering a college career, provide access to campus housing and a meal plan and support opportunities like internships. It will also connect students with mentorship throughout their academic journey.

“It begins with the first-year. Part of the program is to get students as part of our orientation programs in August and early September before classes start,” said Michael Tompos, vice president of Institutional Advancement. “Students in this program will get some guidance about what coming to college is all about, how to navigate the support networks on campus. And they’ll have someone with them for four years to be, not an advisor, but more of a coach and mentor.”

The donors of this gift are Katherine Austin Mahle and Steve Mahle. Katherine is a life trustee of Hamline, an honor given to members who have been on the board for many years. She came to them in fall of 2019 with the interest of supporting the students.

“Her heart is with Hamline’s mission. She was the pastor of the Hamline Methodist Church for many years,” said Tompos. “She believes very strongly in the John Wesley, ‘Do all the good you can’ philosophy. They’re philanthropic not only at Hamline but at other institutions as well.”

Some of the other institutions the Mahles have donated to include Penn State Eberly College of Science and Africa University.

Research from Hamline and knowledge from Mahle’s prior experiences indicate living on campus has a positive impact on student’s experience, which influenced the decision to use the donation to develop this program.

“This gift from the Mahles is designed to be a part of a student’s financial aid package, it encourages them to live on campus and take advantage of experiences such as internships or collaborative research with faculty or study abroad, things like [that] will be good for their future plans in getting a job or pursuing additional studies after Hamline,” Tompos said.

Students living on campus generally agree with this thinking.

“Mere proximity makes a world of difference. Because Hamline is so diverse in unending ways, students are sure to find their niche,” junior Emily Smith said. “Living on campus provides students opportunities to get connected, have fun, and feel supported.”

The Mahles’ donation is part of Hamline’s Take the Lead fundraising campaign. This campaign launched July 1, 2015 and will conclude June 30, 2020 or before if they reach their $110 million goal. As of Jan. 31, 2020, Hamline had raised almost $62 million toward that goal.

“A campaign is not about money,” Tompos said. “It is about what gifts do for the people here. The goal for both Hamline and the donors is to give Hamline students the help they need to be successful.”