The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, has announced a $20 million gift from the estate of alumnus Irvin Kanthak ('59) to establish a scholarship program.
Against the backdrop of the university's new two-year residency requirement, the Kanthak Scholars Program will provide four-year scholarships to approximately thirty undergraduates annually, with each Kanthak Scholar receiving $10,000 in their first two years, when students are required to live on campus, and $5,000 a year for each of their last two years. The gift also will support an emergency scholarship fund for current students experiencing financial hardships, as well as a national alumni referral scholarship program designed to attract students to campus from outside the state.
Kanthak, who died in 2019, was a first-generation college student who attended St. Thomas on the GI Bill and left nearly his entire estate to the university. After graduating from the school, he lived frugally and saved to buy real estate, earning his fortune through a series of shrewd investments. In recognition of the gift, the main grand atrium of Anderson Student Center will be named in his honor.
"The ability to support many more students through the Kanthak Scholars Program is a dream come true," said the university's president, Julie Sullivan. "This could not have come at a better time as high schoolers are discerning their campus homes for the next four years. I am so grateful that we can offer additional financial support to offset the cost of a St. Thomas education and to provide equitable access to residence halls. This is a giant leap forward in increasing access for students and families with financial need."