Alumnus Bennett Melin ’63 has made St. Cloud State’s first endowed speaker series possible. Announced in April, the Bennett D. Melin Family University Speakers Series was established to bring publicly recognizable thought leaders from the arts, humanities, sciences, business, religion, politics and other relevant areas of contemporary society to the St. Cloud State campus to engage students, faculty, staff and the greater central Minnesota community in thoughtful conversation and reflection.
“I think everybody wants to leave something behind,” Melin said of his decision to endow the speaker series.
Melin’s donation was inspired by his parents. Melin was raised by parents who taught their children to accept all people with respect and dignity. He has upheld this belief throughout his life as he has worked, studied and traveled extensively throughout all seven continents.
He graduated from St. Cloud State University in 1963 with majors in history and geography. He began his international travels by independently visiting countries throughout the Middle East and what was then the Soviet Union. Melin drove himself through many of the countries he visited, including the USSR, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. In 1967 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to India and, after an exhaustive study throughout the country, the program concluded with a meeting and afternoon tea with then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In 1969 he began his first international work assignment in Vientiane, Laos, a position he applied for through an advertisement on a bulletin board in Stewart Hall. In 1971 he was employed by the oil industry in Southeast Asia, where he worked for the next 20 years, starting out during the height of the Vietnam War. He then accepted work assignments in several African and South American countries until his retirement in 2007.
Meeting and working with “citizens of the world” for nearly 60 years, Melin said his respect and acceptance of international cultures has only grown and matured. He sometimes worries Americans don’t think globally enough, and tend to forget the U.S. population only accounts for about 4.25% of the global population.
He hopes the speaker series will continue for decades bringing international voices to campus and encouraging audiences to learn as much as possible about the world and all its cultures.
UPDATE: Unleash the Future: The Campaign for St. Cloud State University
$37 million raised to date
Publicly announced in April 2021, the Unleash The Future: The Campaign for St. Cloud State set a goal of $32 million with the hope of promoting academic distinction, a university of teacher-scholars, student success, annual support and expanding regional reach as well as other priorities for St. Cloud State.
The St. Cloud State University Foundation announced the Unleash the Future campaign has raised $37 million as of April 2022 — 15 percent over the campaign’s initial goal.
“We are honored by our donor community’s response to the Unleash the Future campaign, and we — along with faculty and staff — are thrilled to see so many of the campaign’s priorities receiving significant philanthropic support,” said Matt Andrew, vice president of university advancement.
Accompanying the fundraising success has been another significant milestone in the life of the St. Cloud State Foundation. For the first time, the Foundation’s endowment is now over $50 million. Of that amount, $16.7 million has been raised for scholarships.
“The ‘Unleash the Future’ campaign will conclude at the end of 2022, but there’s still more that we can accomplish,” Andrew said. “For anyone in our community wondering about how they can help students as we drive towards the finish line, I’d say give us a call and you’’ll be amazed by the impact your gift can make.”
More information can be found at unleashthefuture.stcloudstate.edu or by calling the Foundation at 320-308-3984.