Four generations of the Stemper family have attended Marquette.
In fact, Bill and Nancy Stemper met at Marquette. They have four children, all of whom graduated from the university.
The oldest two children and their spouses went to Marquette, the Stempers said.
Last month, the Stempers donated $1 million to the university for “faith formation.”
“The Stempers have committed more than $1 million to fund the ‘Bill and Nancy Stemper Endowment for Excellence in Catholic Faith Formation,’ which will expand programming and services to deepen Catholic, Jesuit faith development among Marquette students,” a recent university news release said.
The Stempers said that a Marquette education means fostering Midwest, Catholic values. These values “shape life decisions and life-work ethics. Values that help one be the best person they can be,” the Stempers said in an email.
In fact, the four Stemper children all had a role in Marquette Campus Ministry in some capacity, whether that be through service or volunteering.
“They noted the ‘MU Experience’ to be very fulfilling. This retreat opportunity was during their upper class years and emphasized Ignatian Values,” the Stempers said in a email.
Through their children’s experiences, the Stempers learned many students who wanted to join in retreats or service but couldn’t because of finances, according to the press release.
“We anticipate this gift will help Marquette offer retreats and programs for more students than in the past. It will also help Marquette attract outstanding speakers that can relate to and help the students reflect on their lives, their values and their faith,” the Stempers said in an email.
Mary Sue Callan-Farley, the director of Campus Ministry, said faith formation is a process of deepening one’s commitment to ideas and practices of the Catholic church. She said the endowment is meant to support students in deepening their relationship with God.
Callan-Farley said in an email this process could take many forms, “including individual formation, e.g. retreats; service, e.g. faith based immersion M.A.P./ I.M.A.P.; evangelization and catechesis, e.g. a speaker series for Ignite; student Catholic leadership and training opportunities that might have otherwise been beyond campus ministry’s resources or student ability to pay.”
Annemarie Gunn, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, led a Marquette Action Program trip last year. The group went to an assisted living home in Cincinnati.
“I loved applying the idea of solidarity on that trip because the residents simply needed someone to sit and listen,” Gunn said.
She said the trip taught her about the importance of human connection and how simple it can be.
Callan-Farley said she hopes to see collaboration with other offices as well.
University President Michael Lovell said this gift will help to further the Beyond Boundaries Strategic Plan. Beyond Boundaries is a long-term plan of capital projects.
“Our Catholic, Jesuit identity guides us forward and is foundational to our strategic plan, Beyond Boundaries. The Stempers’ remarkable generosity and vision will now broaden the opportunities for more and more students to experience our faith-based activities, retreats, sacred spaces and service trips,” Lovell said in the release.
The Stempers said they hope students at Marquette make decisions as Christ himself would.
“In this way, sharing their gifts, talents and skills for the good and well-being of others,” the Stempers said in an email.