Dr. Scott Stanek and his wife, Mary Ellen, have donated more than $2 million to Marquette University. (Submitted photo)

Mary Ellen and Dr. Scott Stanek, along with their family, have committed a gift of more than $2 million to Marquette University, President Michael R. Lovell announced.

The gift supports multiple scholarship funds, totaling $1.5 million, and includes both endowed funds and Marquette’s Bridge to the Future fund, which has provided immediate support to hundreds of students experiencing financial strain from the coronavirus.

Mary Ellen Stanek launched the Bridge to the Future Fund during her time as chair of the Board of Trustees in 2008 to help students affected by the recession. Since starting the fund more than 12 years ago, 91 percent of students receiving Bridge awards have graduated.

In addition to supporting scholarships, the Stanek family was enthused by two emerging academic initiatives — the new home for Marquette business and innovation leadership programs as well as a unique focus on special needs dental care that will open doors for countless patients.

“I am incredibly humbled and encouraged by the Stanek family for both investing in our future and stepping up for our students and community during a time when they need it most,” Dr. Lovell said. “Scott and Mary Ellen’s leadership and generosity to Marquette University over many decades have been truly inspiring.”

Mary Ellen and Dr. Scott Stanek are serving as national co-chairs for the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. They are among Marquette University’s most loyal donors, making their first gift in 1982, following Scott’s graduation from Marquette’s School of Dentistry. Since then, they have given for 38 consecutive years. Both are Marquette graduates, along with all three of their children.

“Marquette is where it all came together. We received a great education and a call to use that gift in service to others,” Mary Ellen Stanek said. “In spite of today’s challenges, we see tremendous promise ahead and we are proud to support students as well as programs that embody academic excellence.”

“Mary Ellen and Scott best exemplify the Marquette way, and their passionate, servant leadership is a perfect example of how philanthropy can open doors for students and elevate our outstanding academic programs to even greater heights,” said Vice President for University Advancement Tim McMahon. “Their work co-chairing our national campaign committee has been and is invaluable as we prepare to publicly launch our comprehensive fundraising campaign this April.”

Funding for Marquette’s new home for the College of Business Administration and innovation leadership programs continues to gain momentum. University leaders have raised nearly $59 million from alumni, parents and friends toward the $60 million project, which will be built for the future, providing flexible spaces and an enhanced technology infrastructure for students.

The new facility, which is home to many nationally ranked programs in Applied Investment Management, supply chain and real estate, will be prominently located at the corner of 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, anchoring the west gateway to the heart of campus. Faculty will join students and industry leaders to build a talent pipeline for the region’s business community and advance economic development.

Marquette Business will both form new relationships in its signature facility and continue long-standing partnerships with companies across the region, including Baird, where Mary Ellen Stanek serves as managing director and chief investment officer of Baird Advisors and president of Baird Funds.

Across Wisconsin, special needs adult patients have found increasingly difficult access to oral healthcare. The Staneks’ gift will help develop special needs programming within Marquette’s School of Dentistry that will help dentists adapt existing skills, while learning new techniques to meet behavioral, physical and cognitive challenges. Observational rotations, clinical experiences and general practice residency opportunities will be built into the special needs programming.

“This clinic will significantly change people’s lives for the better, and it fits so well with Marquette’s mission to serve,” Dr. Scott Stanek said.

Marquette’s Dental School, the only one in Wisconsin, builds service into its curriculum across the state, caring for underserved populations. Marquette University School of Dentistry affiliates with “safety net” clinics across the state, and its three Milwaukee clinics provide annual dental services valued at more than $15 million to nearly 18,000 patients.