Since its founding, Marquette has been blessed by a succession of committed and generous individuals and organizations willing to step forward at crucial moments to accomplish great things. Celebrating those whose total lifetime giving has reached or exceeded $1 million, the Founders Society seeks to honor and thank them for the profound impact they have had on Marquette and our students.
The support exhibited by these exceptional individuals and organizations reflects the remarkable generosity of Marquette’s earliest benefactors, who, in the mid–1800s, supported Archbishop Henni in his mission to build an infrastructure in Milwaukee that included a Catholic and Jesuit university.
Members of the Founders Society are part of an extraordinary group that greatly impacts Marquette’s ongoing mission of developing men and women for others. We offer these benefactors our highest praise and gratitude and acknowledge them as exceptional leaders and pioneers for Marquette.
Archbishop Henni (1805–81) was a visionary and prolific fundraiser. He was born in Switzerland, came to the United States in the 1820s, and ministered pastoral care in eastern Ohio and Cincinnati before being named archbishop of Milwaukee in 1844. At that time, with wave after wave of mostly German-speaking Catholic immigrants settling in Wisconsin, he determined there was a need for an institutional infrastructure that should include a Catholic college, indeed a Jesuit, Catholic college. After failing by a small margin to get such a college opened in 1850 — a group of Swiss Jesuits the archbishop had lined up as financial investors were suddenly summoned back to Europe — it took Henni and the Jesuits another 30 years before they could assemble enough personnel to open the doors of the new school, Marquette College, in 1881.
Archbishop Henni’s commitment to community, diversity and education is perpetuated today by the members of this giving society, who, like Archbishop Henni, will always be remembered.