residence hall named for boston college parents shelly and ralph stayer
The twin pillars of faith and family have long buttressed Shelly and Ralph Stayer, P'14, in their personal and professional lives.
Amiable and engaging, the couple embrace the Midwest values that they have long espoused at Johnsonville Sausage, the Wisconsin-based meat producer that Ralph, who serves as chairman and CEO, built into a flourishing international brand.
"In this world, it's important to be a person of conviction," says Ralph Stayer. "We can't merely live for ourselves, but instead we need to be there for others."
This driving spirit, akin to the Ignatian ideals of Boston College, led the Stayers to generously donate $10 million to the University to support and name the 300-student residence hall at St. Ignatius Gate.
"We believe in the University's mission, in balancing an outstanding education rooted in the liberal arts with a profound commitment to service," says Shelly Stayer. "We searched for the perfect giving opportunity and found it where BC's students live."
More than 300 alumni, family, friends, and students joined the couple for the Sept. 7 building dedication, highlighted by a tuneful appearance from the "Screaming Eagles" Marching Band and a Johnsonville-catered cookout for the undergraduates who now call Stayer Hall home.
INVESTING IN THE HEIGHTS
Stayer Hall houses a community of international students—and this resonated with the couple, who continue to expand their business overseas. Shelly Stayer also cites her daughter's affection for BC and the bonds she's forged in her own residence halls as other compelling reasons to give.
For many Boston College students, friends become like family, but the Stayers were surprised to feel the same way as BC parents. "Our conversations with alumni and other parents, and especially with the University's leaders, have served to confirm that BC is an institution that lives its values," says Ralph Stayer, who recently joined BC's Board of Trustees. "We always want to be part of the Boston College community."
Light the World campaign gifts, like the Stayers', that enhance the BC campus remain critical as the University evolves, both in terms of its physical footprint and in the number and quality of academic programs offered to its students. Naming opportunities are available across the Heights, including those supporting Stokes Hall, BC's new 183,000-square-foot center for the humanities.
At the Stayer Hall dedication, University President William P. Leahy, S.J., emphasized the significance of the couple's philanthropy, stating that such commitments "provide a living and learning environment that fosters community, engagement, and personal growth."
MAKING BC A PRIORITY
The Stayer family feels strongly that BC should be among the key causes they support.
The couple have built several Boys & Girls Clubs in the Midwest and are active in the United Way. Their dedication to assisting younger generations extends to the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples (Fla.), where Shelly Stayer serves on the board of directors and takes a keen interest in fundraising.
"I've always loved selling something I believe in," says Shelly Stayer, who also co-owns Naples-based Grace and Shelly's Cupcakes. "I know people want to invest in something they can believe in, too.
"Boston College certainly fits the bill. When you support BC, you are advancing an institution that truly cares about its students and prepares them to make a difference in the world."