Skip to main content

Largest Gifts in University History Pave Way for Future Growth

HomeNews StoriesHomepage NewsLargest Gifts in University History Pave Way for Future Growth

Photo of Brian Ragen and Dennis Gipson.Largest Gifts in University History Pave Way for Future Growth

By Elizabeth Hise Brennan

Two exceptional gifts to Fontbonne University have set the tone for the year’s fundraising goals — and for the long-term planning and investment in Fontbonne’s future. A commitment from Board Chair Dennis Gipson, retired chief executive officer and president of Hussman Corporation, pledges a seven-figure gift to Fontbonne, the largest in the university’s history. And a commitment from Brian Abel Ragen, board member and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville professor emeritus, pledges a seven-figure total via annual gifts and estate planning, establishing an endowed chair in the humanities.

Gipson’s gift is primarily a capital investment in the Fontbonne University West campus, which will help the university bring its bold vision for the new campus to life. As the lead trustee of the university, he hopes his gift offers an example for others as well.

“I believe Fontbonne is a special place that not only prepares students to succeed in their chosen fields, but also enriches their spirit along with their intelligence,” says Gipson, who views his gift as an investment — in the institution, in the community and in the lives of individual students. “If you feel a sense of reward watching great young students thrive in an environment like Fontbonne’s, and then watch them do good things for hundreds or perhaps thousands of others throughout their long careers, then this might be a great place to compound your ‘community interest’ too.”

Ragen benefited from a liberal arts education at a small institution, and his gift reflects his ardent belief that such an education is foundational for success, especially in today’s fast-paced world.

“At Fontbonne, my gift makes the essential education I found so valuable possible for students who might otherwise be unable to afford to attend a small liberal arts college,” Ragen says. “To help students gain the riches to be found in the liberal arts in a spirit of eagerness, thoughtfulness and reverence is my goal as a trustee and a donor, and I firmly believe that is the goal of Fontbonne University as well.”

Fontbonne is geared toward growth in the coming years. The new West County campus is under initial renovations, the rollout of a new brand and advertising campaign will capture greater attention and awareness, and the university is educating the largest and most diverse freshman class it has seen in a decade. As Fontbonne prepares to celebrate its centennial, the university community is also preparing for another 100 years of educating students to serve a world in need. None of it is possible, however, without the support of the university’s dedicated alumni and ambassadors.

“Our work in advancement is to show individuals the joy of philanthropy,” said Kitty Nangle Lohrum, vice president for advancement. “Fundraising is about inviting people to make a difference, and at Fontbonne we do that very well — through our faculty, our students and our impact on our community. Generous commitment from our trustees, through both volunteer leadership and donations, is imperative to our success.”

To contribute to the future growth of Fontbonne University and to help its students soar higher, please contact Jeff Brown Director of Philanthropy, at or (314) 719-3607

We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings


  • GDPR Privacy Policy
  • Google Analytics

GDPR Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Overall Policy

Thank you for visiting our website. We’re pleased to share our policy regarding the use of information received here. Privacy is a matter of concern to us. We are committed to protecting your privacy and the security of the information that you may provide to us.

Personal Information

We do not track individual users. Your email address or other personal information is not collected unless you provide it on a form, survey or application. We will not sell or otherwise make available any personally identifiable information to any organization not directly affiliated with us. We will comply with legitimate government or legal requests as necessary to protect our organization or to comply with laws.

Traffic Analysis

We analyze traffic to this site. We collect statistical data on an aggregated basis through Google Analytics. For example, we collect information about the domain names of servers that bring visitors to our site. We count the number of visitors and keep track of where they go on our site. Such information allows us to find out what areas users visit most frequently and what services they access the most, which enables us to create a better overall user experience. To gather such data, we use cookie technology, which collects data in aggregate form, not by individual user.


As referenced above, we use cookie technology for traffic analysis. Cookies are small pieces of information stored by your browser on your computer’s hard drive. The cookies placed by our server do not gather personal information about you, do not provide any way for us to contact you and do not gather information about your computer. The cookies simply allow us to enhance our site by letting us know what sections are visited most often. The use of cookies is common on the Internet, and our use of them is similar to that of other reputable online organizations.

Links To Other Sites

Our site contains links to other sites and Internet resources. We are not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of these third-party websites and Internet resources.

Updates To Privacy Policy

We may update the privacy policy periodically, and we encourage visitors to review them on a regular basis.

Last revised: June 2015

Google Analytics

Fontbonne University to close in summer 2025 leaving a legacy of more than 100 years of Catholic higher education.Learn More