Genesis IV: Endow SI

The SI Development staff rested one year after finishing the Genesis III campaign and launched its most ambitious fund-raising effort in December 1996 — the Genesis IV: Endow SI campaign, which sought to raise the endowment fund to $50 million over 10 years.

By 1996, the endowment stood at $11 million. The school, which depended on interest of that investment to fund the scholarship program, needed to raise the endowment substantially. Fr. Sauer and Steve Lovette did not need a crystal ball to tell them that costs were going up. SI would have to raise salaries to help teachers afford to buy homes in one of the most expensive markets in the nation, and SI would have to offer far more in the way of scholarships to keep SI a school for all students.

Initially, the program sought to increase the endowment for four funds. SI declared a goal to bring the Tuition Assistance Fund to $31.8 million, the Curriculum and Program Fund to $3.7 million, the Excellence in Teaching Fund to $5 million and the Campus Maintenance Fund to $4.5 million. In 2001, the Board of Regents approved the creation of an additional Faculty Housing Fund, with a $5 million goal, making for a grand total of $50 million.

Leading the charge for this new campaign were two men dedicated to SI: John Christen III ’61, who succeeded Pete Murphy in 1996, and Mark Cleary ’64, who succeeded Christen as chairman of the Board of Regents in 2002. (Read more about Mark Cleary in the next chapter.)

Christen, a one-time math teacher and longtime realtor in San Francisco, joined the Board of Regents in 1989 and served on the finance and executive committees. He also served as president of the Alumni Association. “The motivation for the campaign was simple,” Christen said. “We needed to make sure everyone could afford an SI education, we needed to ensure that the older teachers could retire with dignity, and we needed to help young faculty in a difficult housing market. Based on the success of the Genesis III campaign, we knew we could reach our goal.”

That earlier campaign, he added, “planted many seeds that later bore fruit. People seemed happy to donate to the school. Genesis IV was never a hard sell. People understand the value of an endowment fund. In many ways, the sale had already been made.” He also praised the Development Office for working “like a well-oiled machine” and the school for offering a top-notch Jesuit education. “SI was in great demand because people know that it is a wonderful institution that is always seeking to better itself. I’m happy to be associated with the school just for that reason.” (Christen’s sons — John ’89, Anthony ’91, Paul ’92 and Matthew ’94 — all went to SI. He and his late wife, Marilyn, who served as Ignatian Guild president and helped SI in innumerable ways, also have a daughter, Jennifer, who graduated from Convent of the Sacred Heart in 1987.)

Christen praised the efforts of his predecessor, Pete Murphy, as well as Al Wilsey and Bill Barulich. “Bill isn’t an SI alumnus, and he sits on the board of another school. But he has done so much for the Jesuits, including helping to sponsor SI’s Comedy Night. He, like so many other donors, appreciates what SI has done for his children.” After Al Wilsey died, Christen joined the Board of Trustees, the ownership body of the school. “As I grow older, I appreciate even more what SI does. I am proud that the institution is growing and is vibrant.”