Swensons Honored

September 6, 2017

James I. and Susan G. Swenson receive U of M Regents Award.

On Monday, August 28, philanthropists James I. and Susan G. Swenson were presented with the University of Minnesota Regents Award for their contributions to the University of Minnesota system and specifically to the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). The Regents Award is the U of M’s highest and most prestigious non-degree honor and is given to only the most dedicated supporters of the University.

The event was held at the Kitchi Gamma Club and was hosted by UMD Chancellor Lendley C. Black. Among those in attendance were U of M Regent David McMillan and U of M President Eric Kaler.

In his speech, Chancellor Black stated that, “UMD would be a very different place without Jim and Sue’s generosity. Through gifts totaling $22 million, they have changed the face of the UMD campus.”

With support from the Swensons, UMD constructed the James I. Swenson Science Building, which opened in 2005. The Swensons also supported the construction of the James I. Swenson Civil Engineering Building which opened in 2010. UMD’s Civil Engineering department has grown from 170 students in 2009 to 274 today.

The Swensons have also supported student scholarships. Since 1994, Swenson Scholarships have provided full support to a new cohort of students each year and continue to support them through their entire four years at UMD. In addition, Swenson Chemistry Summer Research Grants support students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. To date, 376 students have benefitted from these two programs.

In his speech, U of M President Eric Kaler noted that the Swensons “have also invested deeply of themselves through their time, leadership, and mentorship of both students and faculty. I have seen for myself the warmth that Swenson Scholars feel for Jim and Sue, and the genuine interest that the Swensons take in all aspects of their lives on campus and after graduation. It’s delightful and touching.”

Kathleen Schmidlkofer, president and CEO, of the U of M Foundation, recalled Jim’s service as a three-term Regent-nominated University of Minnesota Foundation Trustee. “At the University of Minnesota Foundation, our vision is ‘a future transformed by philanthropy, one dream, one legacy at a time,’ and our mission is ‘to connect passion with possibility, inspire generosity, and support greatness at the University of Minnesota.’ I believe that the Swenson’s philanthropy is a wonderful example of what that looks like. “

Regent David McMillan presented the award to Jim and Sue Swenson calling them “outstanding champions of education” adding that they “have transformed the University of Minnesota Duluth campus, elevated its science and engineering programs, and made a lasting impact on the lives of its students.”

Photo caption (from left): Lendley C. Black, UMD chancellor, James Swenson, U of M Regent David McMillan, Susan Swenson, and U of M President Eric Kaler.