“When you pass through these arches you’ll become part of an academic community Archbishop John Ireland started in 1885,” said St. Thomas Executive Vice President and Provost Richard Plumb. “We all welcome you into the St. Thomas community. Please march through the arches.”
With that, the Class of 2022 walked onto campus Tuesday and took their place in that community of Tommies. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, parents and community members lined the sidewalks of the St. Paul campus, cheering and applauding as the newest first-year class continued the annual tradition of March Through the Arches.
“It’s a great tradition. It’s just, truly, a part of being at St. Thomas,” junior Caroline Nathan said. “There are so many families here and it’s a great way to build community and show these first-years there are so many people who are genuinely interested in them.”
Thousands gathered in Schoenecker Arena in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex for the welcoming assembly and interfaith blessing, complete with performances from student singing groups Cadenza and Summit Singers.
“This is my favorite day of the year,” President Julie Sullivan said. “Make the most of the opportunities afforded you. Embrace the values of our university and our mission of advancing the common good. And, as always, go Tommies!”
The Newsroom caught up with several people in attendance to get a feel for their thoughts and emotions during the celebration.
“Our daughter’s a first-year and it’s been a perfect move-in. It’s really nice. This tradition is a great thing, and I look forward to her marching back the other way (after graduating).” – Barry Pieper
“My granddaughter is a first-year student from Germany, so I’m videotaping to send home to her parents in Frankfurt. They’ve been totally amazed. Our whole family was here last week and they are just blown away by the whole university.” – Tracy Bauer, grandmother of first-year student
“I have first-year advisees now so I’m really looking forward to seeing them walk today. It’s exciting to see how eager the students are. They’re already making friendships and connections, and the number of those are just going to explode here soon.” – Tom Secord, School of Engineering faculty
“I used to work here in Loras Hall on south campus for University Relations. I got my master’s degree here, too, so she spent a lot of time on this campus growing up; it’s great for her to be here as a student.” – Steve Restad, father of first-year student, Claire
“We really want this to be more than symbolic … You are here because we have seen you. We know what you can become.” – Al Cotrone, vice president for enrollment, addressing the Class of 2022
Student leaders, faculty and staff presented the university’s seven convictions (Pursuit of Truth, Academic Excellence, Faith and Reason, Dignity, Diversity, Personal Attention, and Gratitude) at the welcome assembly, and blessings of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths were given to start off the school year.