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Raphael Della Ratta Donates Capstone Gift to Forward! Campaign

Donna Klinger

Knott feature

Longtime benefactor and alumnus of Mount St. Mary’s University Raphael Della Ratta, C’92, has made a generous donation to support the renovation and expansion of the Knott Academic Center. The capstone gift of the Forward! Together as One Campaign is targeted at renovation and addition of College of Liberal Arts classrooms, offices and presentation spaces within the Academic Center.

knott-ac-exterior-renderings-2020-in-text.jpgDella Ratta, who is president of Commercial Management Company, is a major proponent of the liberal arts at the Mount. After earning his bachelor’s degree in English, with a minor in philosophy, Della Ratta became involved in the university as an alumnus by serving as an inaugural member of the Mount St. Mary’s College of Liberal Arts Advisory Board. He also endowed the twice-a-year Ducharme Lecture Series that fosters multidisciplinary learning and established the Della Ratta Award for Excellence in the Liberal Arts.

“Mount St. Mary’s University greatly appreciates Raphael’s devotion to and support of his alma mater and particularly to the liberal arts, which pervades the university’s ethos,” said President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D. “Raphael is an excellent example of an alumnus who leads a life of significance through hard work, dedication and leadership.”

In making this gift, Della Ratta requested that the name of the College of Liberal Arts be included on the signage of the Knott Academic Center as is the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business. “As a liberal arts college, that status needs to be recognized very clearly by being emblazoned on a building,” said Della Ratta, who noted that the vast majority of liberal arts courses are taught in the Academic Center. Knott Academic Center renovation and expansion, also funded by a state grant and a generous donation from the Bolte Family Foundation, is expected to be completed in 2022. The project includes construction of an approximately 12,140 square foot addition and renovation of the 49,074 square foot existing building.

Della Ratta, who joins the Mount St. Mary’s University Board of Trustees next month, credits the Mount with teaching him how to think critically and analytically as well as providing him with the courage to initially follow his own path by pursuing the career that he wanted in journalism and nonprofit work as well as the moral responsibility to later join the family business when he was needed there.

Although he did not major in business, Della Ratta’s liberal arts education gave him the analytical and critical thinking tools he needed to succeed in managing the family business. “How am I doing this? These skills learned in my classes are like muscle memory in an athlete,” he explained. When Della Ratta hires employees he looks for liberal arts graduates. “I need people who can think. Who can look at a bunch of different dots, connect those dots, and not only say what the bigger picture is, but predict what the next picture’s going to be. That is certainly something I picked up at the Mount, as both a skill of my own and a skill to look for in my employees,” he said.

The Forward! Together as One Campaign, which is concluding this month, built on the lasting values of a strong, Catholic liberal arts tradition by making a commitment to enrich the mind, body and spirit of Mount students through increased collaborative learning and cocurricular space, improved lab space and other enhancements in academic facilities; new athletic and recreation facilities; and projects at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. The successful campaign raised $33.9 million from 10,548 donors in support of the university community’s shared vision to educate the next generation of ethical leaders to lead lives of significance in service to God and others.

Donna Klinger