SAU receives largest single gift in its history


By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — A mountaintop announcement capped the St. Ambrose Innovation Summit on April 7. Immediately following the summit, St. Ambrose University President Amy Novak announced the largest single gift in the university’s history.


Through her estate, Patricia VanBruwaene, a St. Ambrose alumna who died Nov. 2, 2021, contributed a multimillion-dollar donation that will bolster scholarship funding to provide access to an SAU education for students across the economic and learning spectrum, Novak said.

She made the announcement in the newly named Patricia VanBruwaene College of Business, which honors the legacy of a St. Ambrose alumna who built a successful career with Deere & Co. The college is located in the expanded and renovated McMullen Hall.


VanBruwaene, an East Moline, Illinois, native, retired from Deere & Co. in 2001 at age 52. She was a founding member of what is now the Quad Cities Travel & Visitors Bureau. In 1990, she became the first female president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and was a past president of the St. Ambrose Alumni Executive Committee and an alumni award recipient.

“Pat was very appreciative of her experience at St. Ambrose,” trust attorney Robert Noe said. “She felt that education put her on the path to what she accomplished at Deere.”

“For women currently in leadership roles such as mine, the Patricia VanBruwaenes of the mid-to-late 20th century were pacesetters,” Novak said. “I hope this speaks to current and future generations of business leaders and tells them St. Ambrose University will provide the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed, adapt and grow in the fast-changing, digital workplace.”

Hayden Latham, a senior at St. Ambrose, was among the speakers who expressed gratitude for VanBruwaene’s generosity. “The combination of professors, classrooms and resources of the St. Ambrose College of Business prepares me, my peers and countless others for success in the professional world. This is all made possible by Patricia.”

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