Saturday evening, August 25, before more than 500 of the school’s most loyal supporters at Jesuit High School’s annual President’s Circle Dinner, school president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. announced the closing of the school’s extraordinarily successful $50 million ‘For Greater Glory’ capital campaign.
Launched with an ambitious goal of $35 million three years ago at the President’s Circle Dinner and raised to $40 million a year later, the campaign exceeded aspirations by $10 million. The $50 million campaign is the result of Jesuit’s remarkably generous benefactors, and has allowed the school to make a lasting investment in its people, programs, and facilities, which will preserve and strengthen Jesuit in Tampa for generations.
“This campaign simply could not have been possible without the support and generosity from everyone in this room,” Fr. Hermes, S.J. said. “It is hard to express just how much your participation has meant to the school and to the young men whose lives have already been changed, and will be forever changed, by the positive impact and unique opportunities you have created for them.”
Saturday at the Renaissance Hotel at International Plaza, Fr. Hermes, S.J. spoke about how the campaign covers the cost of both Phase I and Phase II of the Campus Master Plan. Phase I is finishing this year and includes: Gonzmart Hall, the 32,000-square foot administration and student services center that was dedicated in March and serves as the face of the school on Himes Avenue; the Chapel of the Holy Cross, the literal and figurative heart of Jesuit at the center of campus that was dedicated earlier this month; and the stately Oliva Courtyard (named in honor of $1 million donor John Oliva ’60), which connects Gonzmart Hall and the new chapel and will be completed this year.
Phase II’s centerpiece will be a new Performing Arts Center, which is expected to break ground in late 2019. After Phase II is complete, subsequent phases will include the Jenkins Science and Math Building, and a Student Activities Center and Dining Hall.
“But as you know, we are not here for bricks and mortar; the walls that house and help shape our students are not our end goal but merely a means to help us complete our objectives,” Fr. Hermes, S.J. said. “Our goal is to remain true to the mission that has guided us since 1899 – the total formation of young men in the spirit of St. Ignatius.
“Because of your generosity and increased support, we have been able to ensure an affordable, Jesuit education to more boys in the Tampa Bay area than ever before. In fact, 30% of the current student body receives financial assistance. And because of you, we have been able to offer more assistance than ever before – more than $2 million distributed in financial aid this school year alone.”
Jesuit is extremely grateful to its many generous benefactors, including Ted Couch ’54, who has donated $3.15 million to the ‘For Greater Glory’ campaign; the Capitano family – Joe Capitano Sr. ’56, Joe Capitano Jr. ’84, and Frank Capitano ’87 – who donated $3 million; Carole and Richard "Steve" Jenkins ’75, who donated $2.5 million; Richard Gonzmart ’71, who launched the silent phase of the campaign in 2014 with the school’s first $1 million alumni gift, and later increased his campaign donation to $2.5 million; and Stacey and Ron Leal, P ’09, John Oliva ’60, John Hamilton ’77, Kathy and Ray Hyer, P ’01, Dan Doyle Jr. ’89, the Jesuit High School Foundation, Inc., and several anonymous donors, who all have given $1 million or more.
Saturday's event was highlighted by dozens of talented Jesuit students, including the guitar ensemble and chamber orchestra led by Jesuit's music director Nina Wegmann, painters and digital artists led by Art department head Kevin Ball '03, and the robotics team (with the team's championship robot) and student engineers operating the 3D printer led by robotics moderator and engineering teacher Lauren Hescheles.
Jesuit began its 120th school year earlier this month with the largest enrollment in school history. The increased seating capacity of the new chapel has allowed Jesuit’s enrollment to now exceed 800 for the first time.
Please see below a photo slideshow from the President's Circle Dinner, and below that are professional videos from the Blessing and Dedication of Gonzmart Hall on March 2, and the Rite of Dedication of the Chapel of the Holy Cross on Aug. 7.