I am delighted to welcome all who have been away during the university's J-Term back to campus! As of today, we are all (including our law school, which started spring semester on Jan. 17) embarking on our 2017 spring semester.
New restrictions on travel and entry into the U.S. have raised questions in some minds. First, I want to say that to the best of our knowledge, we do not believe there are any St. Thomas students, faculty or staff who are outside the U.S. and experiencing difficulty returning. If anyone has information to the contrary, please contact Lori Friedman, our director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, as soon as possible.
In addition, if anyone potentially affected by these new restrictions is planning overseas travel, please consult with our Office of International Students and Scholars for the most up-to-date information before embarking on your trip.
Second, our future actions as a campus will be governed by our dedication to our mission as a Catholic university to uphold the principles of Catholic social teaching and to advance the common good, as well as our requirement to obey the laws of our country in order not to put any member of our community at risk. Thus, we will take every lawful opportunity to advocate for, protect and care for those who are most vulnerable and in need.
Yesterday, Pope Francis reminded us that all nations must focus on "service to the poorest, the sick (and) those who have abandoned their homelands in search of a better future for themselves and their families."
"In putting ourselves at the service of the neediest," Pope Francis said, "we will experience that we already are united; it is God's mercy that unites us."
I call on all of us, as members of the St. Thomas community, to unite in solidarity for each one of us, each of whom is a unique creature of God.
Again, welcome! I wish you a wonderful and fruitful spring semester!