President ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76 announced today that alumna Katherine Buuck Fratzke ’17 and her parents, Robert and Gail Buuck, have made a leadership-level commitment of $1 million toward the renovation and improvement of Mendel as part of LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence.
“We are so very grateful to Katie, Robert, and Gail for their generosity to our students,” said Roloff. “This incredible gift for upgrading Mendel’s classrooms and equipment will have positive results for our BIPOC students and all Katies for many years to come.”
The gift is a major step forward toward the University’s goal to renovate and improve Mendel, the University’s science building, which opened in 1927. “Spacious and well-lighted, it seems the answer to a scientist’s prayer,” commented St. Kate’s Alumnae News in 1928. The building served Katies’ science education needs well throughout the last century. While selective modifications and renovations have been made over the years, many of the teaching and learning spaces do not meet the contemporary pedagogical needs of science education.
More than 2,100 students take classes in Mendel each year. In addition to majors and minors in biology, chemistry, and physics, Mendel serves a wide range of students from across the institution, including not only students in programs in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences, but also programs in the School of Health. The reimagined Mendel Hall will provide an accessible, welcoming, and exciting place for all students, where interdisciplinary teaching, research, and collaboration are celebrated, and future scientists are nurtured and supported.
The need was highlighted during a Town Hall event this fall that explored the obstacles that women of color in STEM fields face. St. Kate’s effort to develop more BIPOC women leaders in science is titled “Expanding HERizons.” The Town Hall, moderated by MPR’s Kerri Miller, was key in inspiring Fratzke and her parents to give their major support to this important campus priority.
“Expanding HERizons addresses directly an ongoing lapse in support for BIPOC women leaders in the sciences to have all the resources they need to succeed beyond the fantastic training they receive at St. Kate's,” Fratzke said. “The challenges at the moment – climate change, sustainability, advancing technology – require innovation from leaders of all backgrounds who understand the universal impact to truly move the needle. We are thrilled to be able to support this initiative and look forward to watching the tremendous work of these women and their lasting impacts on the field.”
St. Catherine University thanks Fratzke, the Buucks, and other donors willing to invest in improving St. Kate’s science facilities for our future leaders.