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Group of students standing outside of eBay office during SLU Connect trip. Group of students standing outside of eBay office during SLU Connect trip.

University Receives $3 Million Gift to Launch New Center for Career Excellence

Inspired by St. Lawrence University’s high priority investment to make career programming a cornerstone of the student experience, Hilary Ayn Valentine '89 has designated her recent $3 million gift to the University endowment as the means to launch the new Center for Career Excellence.

A bold and comprehensive approach to career development at St. Lawrence will benefit every student by embedding essential life and career readiness skills into the University's academic and co-curricular experience. New opportunities offered at the Center will go well beyond what students have turned to Career Services for in the past, and will ensure students graduate with the resiliency, industry knowledge, practical experience, and skills needed to tackle the world’s most complex problems.

The newly-organized St. Lawrence Center for Career Excellence will build on the success of the former Career Services department to focus on three critical areas: early career exploration, experiential learning, and internships. An invigorated Laurentian mentoring program for every student, a substantial increase of internship opportunities available, and a sequence of courses to help students leverage their liberal arts education are among the signature initiatives underway.

“With Hilary’s astonishing gift, St. Lawrence is now positioned to do something few, if any, of its peer colleges have yet imagined—link students, even before they matriculate, with career possibilities through all that happens in the total Laurentian experience,” said President William L. Fox '75. “It 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 planned initiatives and programs are the result of months of research and extensive collaborative efforts among faculty, staff, and trustees. The groups came together last summer to redefine St. Lawrence’s focus on careers in order to have the highest impact on students' lives.

"Having benefited from the wonderful mentoring that already takes place in many ways at St. Lawrence, I am particularly excited that the new mentorship program will provide many more students with similar experiences and support,” Valentine said. "Laurentians are known for their passionate commitment to each other and the University. It’s a powerful thing to know that members of the St. Lawrence community are always there to encourage and guide you, and I feel that has always been something that sets St. Lawrence apart from other institutions.”

Valentine's gift is her second significant contribution to the University’s current campaign, 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.

With a goal of $225 million, 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, now in its final phase and already at a historic record level with about 15 percent left to go, totals so far $185 million in gifts and commitments.