A gift from the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, ensures a strong heritage of Catholic Franciscan education will continue to thrive at Briar Cliff University.
On January 24, Briar Cliff announced a $2 million endowment by the Sisters of St. Francis establishing the Sisters of St. Francis Endowed Chair in Theology. The legacy gift is one of the largest in the University’s history and the first time an endowed chair has been gifted to Briar Cliff.
The endowment will support Briar Cliff in the recruitment and retention of faculty, enrich the University’s theology program through scholarship and teaching, provide funding for professional development and spiritual projects, and infuse Catholic Franciscan values throughout Briar Cliff and into the community.
“Briar Cliff University is here today because of the vision of the Sisters of St. Francis nearly 89 years ago. Their influence is at the core of our Catholic Franciscan tradition of service, caring, and openness to all,” says Briar Cliff University President Rachelle L. Karstens. “We are blessed, appreciative, and very humbled by the Sisters of St. Francis’ continued devotion and commitment to educating our current and future students through this endowment and their extraordinary service to Briar Cliff throughout our history.”
The Sisters of St. Francis believe in producing the next generation of Catholic Franciscan inspired leaders says Sister Kate Katoski, OSF President of the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque.
“We are honored to be able to make this significant donation at this time. Thanks to the simple, shared Franciscan life of our sisters over our 155 year history, the wise planning of our leaders, and the generosity of those who have gifted us, we are able to leave this legacy gift to Briar Cliff, trusting that it will instill in the Briar Cliff community and the wider public our Franciscan theology and values for decades to come.”
Briar Cliff was founded in 1929 by Mother Mary Dominica Wieneke, Major Superior of the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, with the approval of the Most Reverend Edmond Heelan, Bishop of the Sioux City Diocese. When the University opened its doors in 1930, it was served by 12 Franciscan sisters. By 1960, 37 Franciscan sisters were present on campus, some of the nearly 1,000 members of Dubuque Franciscan community during that time period. Today, the congregation has just over 200 members, many who have served in various roles at Briar Cliff including five sisters who currently serve as faculty and staff at BCU.
The Sisters of St. Francis were the first members of Briar Cliff’s Mother Dominica Society which recognizes benefactors with a lifetime giving of $1 million and the inaugural members of Briar Cliff’s St. Clare Legacy Society which recognizes benefactors with a lifetime giving of $5 million. To date, the Sisters of St. Francis have gifted $6 million to Briar Cliff since the University’s inception in 1930.
“The impact of the Sisters of St. Francis’ tireless work and deep devotion to educating our future leaders inspires us all. Their legacy gift will continue to enrich the lives of our students and community for many years to come,” adds Karstens.