University of St. Thomas President Rob Vischer recently spoke with University Business for a story about the positive trajectory of the university and a wide range of other topics, including the role of the university’s Catholic mission, and the importance of student experiences and social mobility for marginalized communities.
From the story:
Rob Vischer took over the University of St. Thomas in January during a pivotal period in its 139-year history. Once a small Catholic liberal arts college, St. Thomas is now the largest private university in Minnesota and is eyeing to expand its influence across state and national lines.
As undergraduate enrollment at Minnesota colleges and universities has dropped by almost a third over the past decade, Vischer reported St. Thomas’ 10% gain. In the past six years, it’s opened a bachelor’s program in nursing and a two-year college geared toward minority and first-generation student success. St. Thomas is also in the middle of making an audacious jump from Division III athletics to Division I, strengthened by a $75 million gift – the single-largest private monetary gift given to a Minnesotan university – for a multiuse sports arena. ...
“Are we able to strive to ensure that every student who sets foot on our campus has the experience of being seen, known and loved? If we succeed in doing that, I don’t care what else happens. We win. Every student has a strong sense of belonging and connection. Holy cow! What a great business model that is!” says Vischer. “It also happens to be authentic and genuine living out of our Catholic identity, our mission. And it’s not simply a function of how many Catholic students you have sitting in the classroom.”