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USF Receives Landmark $10 Million Gift to Advance Catholic Education and Leadership

SAN FRANCISCO – Joan McGrath MA ’69 and her husband, Robert, have donated $10 million to the University of San Francisco (USF) to dramatically expand scholarships for Catholic school teaching programs at USF’s School of Education, create a new multidisciplinary student leadership institute and endow scholarships for undergraduate students to enroll in international immersion opportunities.

The McGrath gift represents the largest gift in history for USF’s School of Education, and will provide new opportunities across the university for both undergraduate and graduate students to engage in leadership programs and international immersion opportunities.

“Joan and Bob have made a gift that will have great impact, giving students access to global opportunities and furthering USF’s leadership in Catholic education,” says USF President Paul Fitzgerald, S. J. “We are blessed to have their support.”

More than half of the McGraths’ gift, $6 million, will endow scholarships for graduate education students in the new McGrath Institute for Jesuit Catholic Education, which re-envisions USF’s Institute for Catholic Educational Leadership. The institute will recruit teachers, counselors and administrators committed to working at under-resourced Catholic schools and provide scholarships for advanced degrees at USF. Coursework will focus on contemporary Catholic school issues, including school consolidation, management styles, finance and multicultural education. The gift will also support scholarly research.

“The McGraths are setting the groundwork for a new era in Catholic leadership at USF’s School of Education,” says Dr. Michael Duffy, associate dean of the USF School of Education and director of the new center. “This transformative gift will help us meet the needs of Catholic schools in developing strong, ethics-oriented curricula and provide financial support for Catholic educators. This is vital in this economic climate, and will help cultivate education leaders who can relate the complexities of the modern world to Catholic education.”

The McGrath Center will also support USF School of Education student presentations at academic conferences, professional development workshops and Catholic educational gatherings in local school communities.

McGrath Gift Also Funds Scholarships for “Change the World From Here” Leadership Institute and International Student Immersion Courses

The McGrath gift includes $3 million to create the “Change the World From Here” Institute at USF, which will fund scholarships for students who show leadership potential, regardless of their discipline. USF’s University Ministry will also receive a $1 million endowment to provide undergraduate scholarships to international immersion programs. The Arrupe Immersion Program developed by University Ministry provides international and domestic experiences for students, faculty and staff to live, work, and reflect in economically marginalized communities.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of Joan and Bob McGrath,” says Julie Dowd, director of University Ministry. “By establishing this endowment for the Arrupe Immersion Program, more students will be able to learn about the world and engage in meaningful cultural exchange. The big dream is to eventually provide funding so that any USF student can go on an immersion trip.”

Joan and Bob McGrath have a long history of leadership in business, Catholic education and service. In 1979, Bob founded the McGrath RentCorp, which rents modular buildings, industrial liquid storage tanks and electronic measurement equipment. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Joan, a nun for 13 years, earned a master’s in theology, and later became a high school teacher. She was principal of the Sacred Heart School in Atherton, CA, when she met and married Bob. She then joined the McGrath Corporation as executive vice president, developing the sales team and helping to lead the company until its successful public offering.

Now retired, the McGraths are driven by their Catholic faith and intent on giving back. The McGraths have been strong participants and funders of Catholic charities and causes across the U.S, including Catholic Charities CYO of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life-Center for Social Concerns Advisory Council (ICL-CSC).

“With USF’s School of Education and University Ministry as well as programs such as Arrupe Immersions, our support can make a huge difference,” Bob McGrath says. “Joan and I are thrilled to help open horizons for a new generation of young people to learn to lead and experience the world.”

“We, too, are called to change the world,” Joan says. “Now, we have the chance to nourish that desire to serve in others.”

About the University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world’s most innovative and diverse cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco’s first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student’s passion for social justice and a desire to “Change the World From Here.” For more information, visit usfca.edu.

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