Challenge Inspires Alumnus to Donate $32.5 Million, Largest Gift in Holy Cross History

Record gift to expand and enhance College’s indoor athletics and recreational facilities brings total funds raised to $59.5 million

Inspired by the challenge of an anonymous donor, John E. Luth, a 1974 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and founder, CEO and chairman of Seabury Group, a global advisory and investment company specializing in aviation, aerospace, financial services and software and data products related to such industries, is donating, along with his wife Dr. Joanne (Jo) Chouinard-Luth, D.M.D., $32.5 million to the College. The gift, the largest single donation in the history of Holy Cross, was announced today by the College’s president, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.

Luth, a former Holy Cross trustee, and his wife, designated their gift in response to the College’s need to extensively expand and renovate its athletics center as well as to convert its existing Field House into a state-of-the-art recreation center.

To date, Holy Cross has secured $52 million in gifts and pledges toward the first project, the estimated $87 million cost to renovate the Hart Center. If fundraising totals reach $60 million by September, the anonymous donor, whose initial gift was $15 million, will give an additional $5 million, bringing the funds raised to $65 million and making it possible for the College to break ground on the Hart Center expansion in the spring of 2016 (if construction costs come in as expected).

A portion of the Luths’ gift, $7.5 million, will go toward renovation of the Field House to benefit the health and wellness of the entire campus community.

With the Luths’ gift, the total amount raised in gifts and pledges for the two projects has reached  $59.5 million.

An expanded and renovated Hart Center is central to the College's ongoing commitment to provide an exceptional student-athlete experience and to compete at the highest levels of Division I athletics.  In addition, a revamped Field House will create a first-class recreation center for the entire campus community. These projects are part of the most ambitious comprehensive campaign in College history, “Become More: Campaign for the Future of Holy Cross.” With this one initiative of the campaign, Holy Cross aspires to restore its athletics reputation to be on par with its academic stature and to renew the sense of spirit and pride on campus and in the alumni community.

Regarding the gift, Fr. Boroughs said: “I continue to be incredibly moved by the passion and loyalty of the Holy Cross community. Since the start of this campaign we have received three gifts at or above $25 million. John and Joanne’s example of leadership and support—to help expand, renovate and update our athletics facilities—enhances an essential element of the Jesuit educational mission to educate the whole person. It is important that our athletics facilities and program reflect the same standard of excellence we expect in everything we do at Holy Cross. I am grateful for the Luths’ generosity and that of our anonymous donor whose timing inspired them.”

Commenting on his gift to the College, Luth said: “My years at Holy Cross were truly transformational for me, and I am grateful to be in a position to pay forward to the Holy Cross community for the many kindnesses given to me, particularly by the Jesuit order. My Holy Cross education provided me with significant advantages that allowed me to achieve success in so many ways beyond just the business world.  As a former Holy Cross trustee, I know that the College’s mission remains riveted on developing ‘the whole person,’ not just academically, which the College has excelled at since its founding 172 years ago.  Jo’s and my gift is a strong endorsement that now is the time for the College to make a significant investment in building state-of-the-art athletic facilities to further that mission. While we’ve been thinking about our commitment for some time, we were motivated to respond to the fundraising challenge presented to the College.”

Luth, a Missouri native from a family of 10 children, arrived at Holy Cross as a transfer student with the encouragement and financial support of his mentor, the late John M. Flavan ’53, then a St. Louis hotelier and restaurateur.  An economics major, Luth walked on to the soccer team and played varsity soccer, “a dream come true,” he says.  Luth served on the Holy Cross Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2013 and joined the Advisory Board in 2013.  He was a member of the regional campaign committee of the previous comprehensive campaign, “Lift High the Cross.” Last year, he co-chaired the reunion gift effort for the Class of 1974.

This is the third eight-figure commitment the College has received for a capital project since 2013. The Luths’ gift and the anonymous donation come a little more than two years after alumnus Neil Prior ’56 contributed $25 million to jump-start plans for a new performing arts center on campus, and as the College’s “Become More” campaign gains momentum, raising more than $200 million toward its goal of $400 million.

The “Become More” campaign has seen progress in several other areas: in May the College broke ground on a Contemplative Center; and it has raised resources for financial aid, experiential learning, and for faculty and curricular initiatives that will enhance the distinctive Holy Cross experience for its students.


Luth is the founding partner, chairman and chief executive officer of Seabury Group LLC which he founded in 1995. Seabury is the preeminent global aviation advisory firm having managed 10 of the 15 largest global airline turnarounds, including structuring over $100 billion of debt and lease obligations. Seabury’s 350 professionals based in 15 countries have executed 1,100+ engagements for over 300 clients in more than 50 countries on five continents. Three of the four largest U.S. airlines use sophisticated MIS software systems developed by Seabury. Luth has personally advised on over $250 billion of aircraft orders (list prices) and $80 billion of capital financings. Seabury Capital LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Seabury Group, has established several finance companies as well as software companies providing unique products and financial service capabilities to corporations around the world. Seabury Capital most recently established a new merchant banking operation.

Before founding Seabury, Luth served in several senior executive positions with Continental Airlines from 1989-1995, including senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer. Prior to Continental, Luth held several executive positions with Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company (MHTC), including vice president of syndications, and was the youngest person to be elected to the level of vice president by MHTC at the time. Luth started his career serving in the Corporate Finance Division of Exxon Corporation’s Treasurer’s Department in New York City in 1976. Luth graduated magna cum laude from the College of the Holy Cross in 1974, majoring in economics, and received an M.B.A. in finance from the Wharton Graduate School, University of Pennsylvania in 1976. He is a FINRA Registered Principal, and is Series 7, 63, 79 and 24 qualified, and is also FCA (UK) licensed.

Dr. Chouinard-Luth graduated magna cum laude from Newton College of the Sacred Heart in 1975, majoring in biology. She received a D.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1979, and a M.P.H. from the University of Illinois School of Public Health in 1987. After a 30-year career in dental medicine in Chicago, Dr. Chouinard-Luth enrolled in Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition at the College of Physicians and Surgeons where she earned a MS degree with a focus on prevention and mitigation of risk factors for metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases in 2011.

The Luths have established a charitable foundation to promote global awareness of nutrition’s fundamental importance to every individual’s quality of life.


The Hart Center (named for Rev. Francis J. Hart, S.J., the guiding force behind intramurals at Holy Cross for more than 40 years) opened in 1975 and the Field House was purchased by the College in 1946 for $1.

Plans for the Hart Center include a year-round indoor practice field that will benefit all field sports; and an auxiliary gymnasium to provide more space for basketball and volleyball practice and competition. The College will also expand sports medicine and strength and conditioning areas and equipment to service 750 student-athletes. The plans call for locker rooms, team meeting rooms, and office space for all teams, consistent with a Division I program.

The College will completely revamp the aging Field House, and create a top-flight recreation complex for the entire student body, featuring basketball courts, exercise studios, weight training rooms, new shower and locker space, and centers for a wide assortment of health, wellness and fitness programming.

Media Coverage


Read the Wall Street Journal‎ story (June 9, 2015) about the gift from John E. Luth '74 and his wife, Joanne Chouinard-Luth (authentication required) »
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