Jesuit High School announces $35 million fundraising plan to expand, renovate campus

The Tampa private school, founded in 1899, wants to grow its space and purpose.
Published September 20 2015
Updated September 20 2015

TAMPA — Jesuit High School will undergo a massive $35 million renovation and expansion project that will remake the campus and could pave the way to add enrollment.

Father Richard Hermes, the president of the school, unveiled the project in front of 400 or so of Jesuit High's top supporters, who had gathered at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel.

The school has already raised $27.5 million toward funding the project. The school also announced Saturday its biggest fundraising gift ever: $2.5 million donated by Marty and Ted Couch Sr.

Ted Couch Sr. graduated from Jesuit High in 1954. He went on to become one of Tampa's most notable philanthropists and helped establish Moffitt Cancer Center in 1986.

There's more than just new buildings in Jesuit High's $35 million fundraising goal. The new buildings will allow the school to expand its extracurricular offerings, such as mission trips. The money will also go toward financial aid for students attending the private school and will fund technology training and professional development opportunities for school staff.

"I don't want that to be lost in the bricks and mortar," said Nick Suszynski, Jesuit High's director of development. "We're about the individual just as much as we are about developing the campus."

Jesuit High is one of Tampa Bay's oldest private schools. The all-male Catholic institution opened in 1899 in downtown Tampa. Six decades later, it moved to its current location at 4701 N Himes Ave., between Al Lopez Field and St. Joseph's Hospital.

School officials could not give an exact cost of new construction. But the work is already under way. Last year, the school started building a new campus perimeter, adding a red brick wall and black steel columns all around the campus.

Only the first two phases of construction have been revealed by school officials. There's no set timetable for construction, but it should take around four years.

Plans call for a full-scale renovation for St. Anthony's Chapel, regarded as the heart of campus. Jesuit High's 770 or so students gather there each morning for convocation and other schoolwide events. The chapel will also be expanded to seat around 900 students, which would allow the school to add enrollment.

A new administration and student services building will also be built along Himes Avenue, replacing the current facility. It will be two stories and have 32,000 square feet of space.

Jesuit High will also build a new fine arts center with a performance space that can seat up to 450, a two-story math and science center and a college-style student activities center with a 500-seat dining hall.

The completion of these projects will allow for "moderate growth" in enrollment, Hermes said. He was also confident that the school will raise the remaining $7.5 million needed to fulfill its $35 million fundraising goal.

"Based on the response so far, I'm very confident," Hermes said. "We've had a tremendous response from parents, alumni and others."

Contact Michael Majchrowicz at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @mjmajchrowicz.