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Originally Published in the December 2019 Campaign Newsletter Originally Published in the December 2019 Campaign Newsletter
The Power Of Connections

Launching the New Center for Career Excellence

What transforms work into a career? St. Lawrence. 

The word “career” has a lot of buzz words around it: intention, durability, financial success, social impact, life’s work.

At St. Lawrence, though, buzz words aren’t enough. After all, our graduates’ careers are extensions of the values they hold, their professional vision, and their aspirations to build something meaningful. Reflecting these ideals and the Laurentian ethic of building community, the careers that begin to take shape on our campus connect us across generations. 

Now, developing and launching the careers of St. Lawrence graduates has a new home: the Center for Career Excellence. It is the culmination of the University’s research and experience—and the philanthropy of Laurentian donors. Hilary Ayn Valentine ’89 has supported the new Center’s development with a $3 million gift.

“St. Lawrence students are thriving in the school’s intellectual and social climate,” she says. “The knowledge and ideas that flourish at St. Lawrence should influence the future of work everywhere.”

The new Center for Career Excellence will have more resources to help students and graduates transform their efforts and professional goals into meaningful careers.

“Work has changed dramatically over the past hundred   years,” Sarah Coburn says. As senior associate director of career services at St. Lawrence, she has helped students successfully launch their professional lives. “Our graduates will continue to define what a career means to them by doing what Laurentians have always done: Offer the working world our industriousness, knowledge, practical experience, skills, and resilience. Now, we can offer more of all that—and more of the St. Lawrence culture of leadership that builds communities and focuses on the goals we all share.” 

The Center for Career Excellence draws on extensive research by St. Lawrence faculty, and collaboration with staff and trustees, as well as the success of the University’s Career Services department. The Center’s enhanced programming emphasizes early career exploration, experiential learning, and internships. 

The Center is already helping the University build a substantial increase in available internship opportunities. Every student can benefit from this—and from an invigorated mentoring program that will help students leverage their liberal arts education. 

President William L. Fox ’75 says Hilary’s gift positions the University to do something few, if any, of its peer colleges have yet imagined: “St. Lawrence will link students, even before they matriculate, with career possibilities through all that happens in the total Laurentian experience. This new Center is a connecting bridge suspended on the giant cables of the nationally-ranked Laurentian alumni network and the creative philanthropy of someone who believes a liberal arts education is the most practical kind possible.” 

The Center’s focus—and Valentine’s support of it—demonstrate the Power of Connections, a “Big Idea” at the heart of The Campaign for Every Laurentian. Put simply, St. Lawrence connects people to create a community that strengthens as it extends around the world. The St. Lawrence professional network connects Laurentians to jobs, internships, mentorships, and other important opportunities. 

“Having benefited from the wonderful mentoring at St. Lawrence,” Valentine says, “I am especially excited that the new mentorship program will provide many more students with similar experiences and support.” 

She adds that these are the experiences that define Laurentians. 

“We’re known for our passionate commitment to each other and the University,” she says. “It’s a powerful thing to know that Laurentians are always there to encourage and guide each other.” 

Valentine’s gift is her second significant contribution to The Campaign for Every Laurentian, and brings her total support to $5.5 million. In 2016, she established the James R. Wallace Professorship in Psychology in honor of her mentor. 

The Campaign for Every Laurentian is the largest comprehensive fundraising initiative in the more than 160-year history of St. Lawrence University and targets four institutional priorities: Endowing Our Future, Learning for the 21st Century, the Power of Connections, Campus Stewardship, and continued support for the St. Lawrence Fund. The Campaign is now in its final phase and already at a historic record level. With $191 million in gifts and commitments to date, we are reaching out to every Laurentian to raise the remaining funds—approximately 15 percent of the total—to reach our goal. 

Please consider making a gift that supports St. Lawrence and our students. To learn how you can make a vital impact on campus, contact us at