Please remember in your prayers Leonard Mikulay, a St. Thomas alumnus who played a key role in the establishment of the university’s downtown Minneapolis campus.
Mikulay died of natural causes Tuesday in St. Paul. He was 92. Survivors include a brother, Cornell, and 10 nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on the St. Paul campus. Visitation also will be in the chapel, one hour before the funeral.
Mikulay, a Minneapolis South High School graduate, enrolled at St. Thomas in 1938 but left to serve in World War II. He returned to campus and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1946, and he also earned a track and field letter.
He teamed up with his brother, Arnold, also a St. Thomas alumnus, to purchase more than a dozen downtown Minneapolis parcels that they operated as surface parking lots for several decades.
St. Thomas began to offer classes in 1987 in the former Powers department store in downtown Minneapolis. Five years later, what today is known as Terrence Murphy Hall opened at 1000 La Salle Ave. on land sold to the university by the Mikulays. Three subsequent buildings – Opus Hall (1999), the School of Law (2003) and Schulze Hall (2005) – are located on land that had been owned largely by the Mikulays.
“Leonard was very proud of his relationship with St. Thomas,” said Quentin Hietpas, retired senior vice president for external affairs at the university. “He was a real strategic thinker in how we developed our presence in downtown Minneapolis and how we should use that property.”
In addition to Minneapolis campus facilities, the Mikulay brothers also supported educational programs at St. Thomas. The Arnold and Leonard Mikulay Distinguished Chair in Real Estate in the Opus College of Business is held by Dr. George Karvel.
St. Thomas honored the brothers by including their fresco portraits in the Hall of Founders in Terrence Murphy Hall. The city block on which that building and Schulze Hall stand is designated Mikulay Plaza.
St. Thomas conferred honorary degrees on the Mikulay brothers in 2003. The citation prepared for Leonard Mikulay’s doctorate expressed “gratitude for your leadership and generous assistance in helping the University of St. Thomas stake a permanent claim in Minneapolis.”
Arnold Mikulay, who served on the Board of Trustees for 10 years, died in 2008.