Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is planning to bring one of Joliet’s longest-running black-tie events back to campus as part of its year-long Centennial Celebration in 2020, and they are pleased to announce that Gloria and Edward Dollinger, and Diane ‘77 and Bill Habiger and will serve as co-chairs for what has been officially billed as the Caritas Centennial Scholarship Gala. The event, hosted by USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., and his wife, Anne, will take place on Saturday, January 25, 2020, in the Pat Sullivan Center.

The Dollingers and Habigers are no strangers to Caritas, which generates financial support to help fund USF student scholarships. Both couples have attended the event for several years. The Habigers also served as chairs for the 2013 Caritas event.

“This Caritas is really special,” said Diane, a USF trustee, who along with her husband, Bill, owns Lincolnshire Properties, Inc., which is a property management company that offers professional offices and centralized services. “Bill and I chaired Caritas the first year it was taken off-campus after several years of being held at the Rec Center. We, along with the Dollingers, are delighted to bring Caritas back to campus for one year and are planning for a very special and nostalgic event.”

Gloria, who is the nutrition supervisor for the Joliet Park District’s Inwood Athletic Club and a Will County Board member for District 10, and her husband Edward, a financial advisor for Edward Jones Investments and USF trustee, are also looking forward to bringing the event back to campus for one year.  They feel it will serve as a way for alumni and friends of the University to see first-hand how USF has changed over the years.

“Because this year’s event is part of USF’s Centennial Celebration, it is an opportunity to bring back to campus our donors and people who may have been unable to attend in recent years. They will be able to see first-hand the growth that has happened within the University.  We have several new facilities, and the campus has a completely different visual look and feel. This year’s Caritas is an opportunity to showcase that,” Gloria said.

“We also want to stress that this is a community event,” she added. “Everyone is welcome – it’s not just for alumni or a select group. It is for the entire community, and the entire community is invited to help make it a success.”

For over sixty years, the annual Caritas Ball has served as the University of St. Francis’ primary fundraiser for student scholarships.  Both Diane and Gloria know how important of a role this financial support is when it comes to making a college education possible for students.

“As an alumna, I want to help others realize the dream of earning a college degree from the University of St. Francis.  I so appreciate what I have gained from USF, and I want to pass it along to all students, including first-generation students who are the first in their family to attend college,” Diane said.

USF has been a home to many first-generation college students for several years. Over the course of the past nine years alone, an average of 58% of each of USF’s incoming freshman classes has been comprised of first-generation college students.

Gloria added, “Events like Caritas are important because they help make the investment of a college education more affordable. The more funds we raise, the more scholarship support we can offer.”

Scholarships made possible through Caritas and the many supporters of USF create life-changing opportunities that affect virtually all undergraduate students. In 2017-2018, approximately 96% of full-time, undergraduate students enrolled at USF received financial assistance, which illustrates the importance of scholarship availability.

Gloria recently learned first-hand of the impact of a USF scholarship while speaking with a parent whose daughter benefited from receiving one. The impact of the scholarship was so great that the parent plans to attend this year’s Caritas as a way to help pay that generosity forward.

“The topic of Caritas came up when we were speaking, and when she heard that Edward and I were co-chairing the event, she told me that she plans to get a table at it because this is her chance to give back. She said her daughter was given a wonderful opportunity and this was a great way to pay it forward,” Gloria said.

It will be a busy year for the Dollingers and Habigers. In addition to chairing Caritas, the two couples are also co-chairing USF’s Centennial Campaign, which has a $2 million goal that includes raising funds for student scholarships and two campus enhancement projects: creating a Centennial Quad and a Centennial Gateway.

“Our goal is to raise $2 million to continue to support students and to enhance the campus. The campus has become more and more beautiful as each year passes. The Motherhouse is just gorgeous. Tower Hall has always been a landmark, and the new Brown Science Hall just continues to add grandeur to the campus,” Diane said.

While USF’s campus is recognizable for its architectural characteristics, both Diane and Gloria stress that maintaining and even building upon the University’s Franciscan heritage is key to its next 100 years.

“USF has 100 years of Franciscan teaching behind it.  We are looking forward to continuing this Franciscan tradition into its second century.  I am happy and proud to be part of this effort with Bill, Edward, and Gloria,” Diane said.

“My hope is that the University continues to live its Franciscan mission, heritage and its four Franciscan values  –  service, compassion, respect and integrity – and that we continue to impress those values upon our students and our faculty. Everyone has really done a great job bringing the University to a new level, and I hope we work to build upon that while also continuing to offer a quality, faith-based education,” Gloria added.

In addition to returning to campus for this year, the Caritas Centennial Scholarship Gala will feature the live music of Gentlemen of Leisure and catering by Jewell Events Catering.  For more information about Caritas, to purchase ticket or to become a sponsor, visit stfrancis.edu/caritas.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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