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February 20, 2019

Avila University Alumni and Community Donors Raise $1.07 Million for Student Scholarships

The Nigro Brothers working the room during the live auction

Kansas City, MO – Avila University alumni and community donors once again raised more than $1 million at its 43rd annual Steer Dinner and Auction on February 2 at the historic Kansas City Marriott Downtown Muehlebach Tower.

Building on Our Promise was the theme for the evening’s festivities, highlighting the University’s student success initiative guaranteeing on-time graduation, internship or research experience, and travel experience. To realize the Avila Promise, the $1.07 million raised during the event will go toward student scholarships.

For many students, scholarships may be the only way they can afford to attend college. With one-third of Avila students being the first in their families to attend college, the scholarship money raised at the Steer Dinner and Auction provide the means for many students to achieve their dream of a college education. First generation college attendees such as Chelsea Espino – a pre-health student who plans to graduate this May – were also featured during the evening. The recipient of the Nightingale Scholarship for nursing and pre-health students, Espino detailed the challenges she faced growing up and the significance of the scholarship established by Avila benefactors Kevin and Susan McGreevy.

Chelsea Espino

“Avila has challenged me but has also helped me overcome many challenges,” Espino said during her speech. “I am graduating … an entire year early. It would not have been possible without the help of my scholarships. On behalf of all the students receiving scholarships to attend Avila University, I would like to say thank you for your contribution to my success and the success of others.”

Avila President Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA welcomed the 660 alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students to the dinner while also recognizing the recent passing of the Dean of the College of Science and Health C. Larry Garrison Sullivan, Ph.D. The event chairs for this year’s dinner were Tricia ’00 and Kevin Lyon, while the honorary chairs were Martha ‘66 and Rodd Staker.

The Steer Dinner began in 1977 with the receipt of an American Royal Grand Champion steer to the University. S. Olive Louise Dallavis, CSJ, president emerita and founder of the Steer Dinner, used the gift to begin a fundraising effort that has earned more than $13 million in scholarship money.


The Avila Promise

  • Tuition Protection
  • 4-Year Graduation Guarantee
  • Internship or Research Guarantee
  • Up to $1,000 Travel Award


That’s the Avila Promise.

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