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Launch of New Center for Career Excellence Gets a $3 Million Boost


Inspired by St. Lawrence University’s high-priority investment to make career programming a cornerstone of the student experience, Hilary Ayn Valentine ’89 has designated her recent $3 million gift to the University endowment as the means to launch the new Center for Career Excellence.

“With Hilary’s astonishing gift, St. Lawrence is now positioned to do something few, if any, of its peer colleges have yet imagined—link students, even before they matriculate, with career possibilities through all that happens in the total Laurentian experience,” says President William L. Fox ’75. “It is a connecting bridge suspended on the giant cables of the nationally ranked Laurentian alumni network and the creative philanthropy of someone who believes a liberal arts education is the most practical kind possible.” 

The newly organized St. Lawrence Center for Career Excellence will build on the success of the former Career Services department to focus on three critical areas: early career exploration, experiential learning, and internships. An invigorated Laurentian mentoring program for every student, a substantial increase of internship opportunities available, and a sequence of courses to help students leverage their liberal arts education are among the signature initiatives underway.

“St. Lawrence has always been strategic about building career opportunities into the student experience,” says Vice President for Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Florence Hines, who now supervises the new Center. “Aligning career programming with enrollment strategies will allow us to focus on enhancing opportunities for current students as well as connect with prospective students and build relevant programs quickly and efficiently.”

The Center’s planned initiatives and programs are the result of the Experience [LINK TO EXPERIENCE ST LAWRENCE TASK FORCE STORY] St. Lawrence Task Force’s months of research and extensive collaborative efforts among faculty, staff, and trustees. “Having benefited from the wonderful mentoring that already takes place in many ways at St. Lawrence, I am excited that the new mentorship program will provide many more students with similar experiences and support,” Valentine says. “Laurentians are known for their passionate commitment to each other and the University. It’s a powerful thing to know that members of the St. Lawrence community are always there to encourage and guide you, and I feel that has always been something that sets St. Lawrence apart from other institutions.”

students and alumna at event

Tyler Senecharles'20, Kiersten Larrabee ’20, Hilary Valentine'89, and Princess Lautener '21 at the 2018 SLU Connect-San Francisco.

Valentine believes a bold and comprehensive approach to career development at St. Lawrence will benefit every student by embedding essential life and career readiness skills into the University’s academic and cocurricular experience. New opportunities offered at the Center will go well beyond what students have turned to Career Services for in the past and will ensure students graduate with the resiliency, industry knowledge, practical experience, and skills needed to tackle the world’s most complex problems.

Valentine’s gift is her second significant contribution to the University’s current campaign, The Campaign for Every Laurentian, and brings her total support to $5.5 million. In 2016, she established the James R. Wallace Professorship in Psychology in honor of her mentor.