$75 million fundraising effort begins at Franciscan University for classrooms, scholarships, outreach

Jefferson County

Steubenville, Ohio (WTRF) – A quiet school in a coal town, driven by faith and forming a spiritual sanctuary for the young people who come to learn.

That was how the future Franciscan University of Steubenville began when it opened its doors 75 years ago today in 1946, and it’s a mission that remains the same in 2021.

What has changed is its national reputation as a leader in religious higher education—with its largest class ever graduating just this past May.

So many good things that have happened. About half the buildings that are on campus now were not here when I came as a student in 1986.

Fr. Dave Pivonka, President of Franciscan University

But they aren’t done growing, and their new campaign is intended to keep that momentum on an upward swing.

The Rebuild My Church initiative, named after the message heard by St. Francis of Assisi, will give the campus its largest building by far.

The Christ the Teacher center will have over 110,000 square feet for classrooms, along with a new conference center wing.

That’s where most of the funding will go, but the other roughly $27 million will go toward financial aid, outreach, and expanding growing programs like nursing and criminal justice.

As a marketing major I think we really need a new building, so it’s such a gift that we’re able to have one.

Gina Villanti, Senior

During what the university calls the ‘quiet’ phase, donors have already poured more than $65 million into the project.

At the announcement, alumni became emotional as they described how much the college and its faith-driven mission has impacted their lives.

Through her work at the call center, Villanti sees how the funds from donors are given not just out of feelings of reciprocation—but of gratitude.

The amount of generosity that they have to just share their gifts with us in order to keep the school going is incredible. Because I wouldn’t be able to be here without their gifts too.

Gina Villanti, Senior

Franciscan’s summer youth conferences have become famous worldwide, but they want to take that outreach even further.

A new scholarship will be developed specifically for students in western Pennsylvania, along with continuing work with other dioceses.

And that new conference building isn’t just meant for students—it will be offered up for community events too.

I’m just really grateful for 75-year history of relationship between the college of Steubenville, the University of Steubenville and now Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Fr. Dave Pivonka, President of Franciscan University

The campus may be tucked away from those passing through the city.

But with the new campaign, Franciscan has set out to prove that a town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

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