Imagining 18 – Strategic Thinking is a rigorous program of analyzing, brainstorming and creative thinking about St. Louis University High School’s future in curriculum, pedagogy, character and faith formation over five intervals.




St. Louis University High School has earned distinction as a premier leader in the development of the whole person throughout its nearly 200-year history.  While the School has done well in preserving its rich tradition, it is looking to expand upon its excellence and become a model school for others in the nation, even internationally.  Imagining 18 will define new opportunities for students and position the School for the future.

Today, SLUH continues to excel academically with 1,100 talented boys, highly qualified, dedicated Jesuits and faculty members, and a rigorous curriculum.  It develops the unique skills and talents of each student through diverse, expansive offerings in service, athletics, co-curriculars and the arts.

Nearly all graduates successfully continue their education through university.  Backer Memorial alumni are “men for others”— sensitive to the needs of others.  They make an impact as leaders in their communities, excelling in the full spectrum of professional fields, and are equipped with a world-view that thrives and embraces in a global, knowledge-based society.

For many years, the School accomplished its mission with the aid of a large Jesuit faculty and a substantial endowment.  Starting in the 1970s, SLUH experienced a steady increase in staffing costs to replace a diminishing Jesuit presence.  In the 1990s, having made a decision to stay at its urban location, The High School took on a large debt load in order to refurbish an aging campus.  This decision was subsequently followed by varying financial market performance, and for more than 15 years, the School’s net endowment has averaged only $6 million (the current net endowment is nearly $15 million).

The challenge to provide accessibility to academically qualified students who have demonstrated financial need—a critical component of the School’s Jesuit mission—has grown significantly.

In order to remain accessible to students of all income levels, SLUH has steadily increased both tuition and financial aid.  Moving forward, however, high single-digit tuition increases are unsustainable.  We are challenged with creating a model that provides the proper balance between accessibility and affordability.

The future has great, untapped potential for St Louis U. High.  It is our goal that through an engaging process of in-depth analysis and creative thinking, we will discover and realize new opportunities for our students and community in such areas as Jesuit Identity/Campus Ministry, Global Education, Counseling, Facilities and Accessibility.

Throughout Strategic Thinking, we will ask challenging questions to realize more fully where we want to – and can – be.  For instance, what formal 21st century curriculum could encourage entrepreneurial thinking or leading?  Should SLUH create a corporate internship program for juniors or seniors, which provides them practical application of their learning?  To what extent does technology impact our pedagogy?  How best does a day school program prepare young men to live and thrive in a global society?  What are the components of a model Campus Ministry program?

SLUH’s tradition of excellence is due in large measure to the wisdom and foresight of Jesuits, faculty and administrators over the past century and before.  It is now time to build on their vision for the next 10 years and beyond at Backer Memorial through the imaginative, entrepreneurial undertaking of Strategic Thinking.