Dear St. Thomas community,
Many of you are accustomed to hearing from me when St. Thomas has major news. For a while, however, I have wanted to more frequently share thoughts and updates with you separate from the news our university has experienced in the last couple of months. Some of that news certainly has been difficult, and has reminded us of the work continuously needed to make this a more inclusive and welcoming community.
Other news in the two months since classes started has marked great progress. Since September we have:
- Welcomed our most diverse and academically strongest incoming class
- Officially launched our new college of health
- Introduced our first sustainability plan
- Received an invitation to join the Summit League athletics conference
And yes, more changes are coming.
This week, for instance, we announced the naming of our Morrison Family College of Health, and Dr. MayKao Hang – the college’s vice president and founding dean – started full time on campus. In just over a month, we will begin offering services at our Center for Well-Being. We also will soon begin working on our next strategic plan for the university: St. Thomas 2025.
Change can feel exhilarating and challenging at the same time. When I think about the pace of change at St. Thomas, I always go back and ground myself in the mission of our founder, Archbishop John Ireland. He chose to name his college after St. Thomas Aquinas, who believed all forms of knowledge must be explored. Aquinas’ rational methodology offered an ideal foundation for the education of the whole person, grounded in the liberal arts, and aimed at promoting the good of people and society. That spirit is carried forward today in the many changes we are working to implement at our university.
And as for Ireland himself, he was an advocate for change on many fronts, committed to racial equality and often worked with non-Catholics to promote the common good. Ireland was forward-thinking, entrepreneurial, visionary, inclusive, courageous and optimistic. We all must embody those traits as we work to shape and create St. Thomas’ future. As we do so, I offer three guideposts for consideration. Our bold future will:
- Stay true to our mission of advancing the common good
- Capitalize on our strengths of: giving personal attention to our students, forming morally responsible and purposeful graduates, and providing relevant education for today and tomorrow
- Broaden the reach of our impact by working with local, national and global partners to tackle the biggest challenges facing our world
There is much more work to be done, and I am thankful to be on this journey with each and every one of you. Going forward, you can expect to hear from me early each month with updates and observations about our journey. In the meantime, I wish you all – our students, faculty and staff – a wonderful start to the month of November and this season of Thanksgiving. I am very grateful for each of you!
Julie H. Sullivan, Ph.D.