Interim President Rob Vischer shared the following in email to University of St. Thomas faculty and staff on Wednesday, June 1, 2022:
I’m honored to serve as the university’s interim president starting today. As I finish my 17th year as a member of this community, I am deeply grateful for you, and I am awed by your commitment to our students through all the tumult of these past couple of years.
I have seen how hard everyone has been working to deliver a world-class educational experience to our students. Runners talk about “hitting the wall,” the point at which they become so fatigued it feels like they can’t keep going. I suspect that many in our St. Thomas community have hit the wall. The relentless logistical and emotional challenges of teaching and working through a pandemic have tested us, as has the long hiatus from the face-to-face fellowship that can help sustain us. And the backdrop for all of this is a world that no longer seems to have discernible news cycles – just a perpetual stream of reasons not to sleep soundly. We. Are. Tired.
And now we face a leadership transition – another source of uncertainty in a season of change. Julie Sullivan has been a transformative president for St. Thomas, and her departure is felt powerfully in every part of our university community. So where do we go from here? Well, put simply: straight ahead. We will keep pursuing our strategic priorities. Our 2025 strategic plan is still very much our roadmap for the future. We know where we need to go, and we know what we need to do to get there.
But first, we need to find time this summer to embrace something that has been in short supply: rest. Our people are our most valuable resources, and we need to pay attention to our own well-being. While some folks have summer work schedules that are intense due to camps, orientation, and campus projects, we hope to contribute to your rest in the following ways:
- Two additional floating holidays for summer: This year, the university will provide staff two additional floating holidays to be taken between June 1, 2022, and August 31, 2022. The precise timing of the floating holidays should be pre-arranged with managers. Refer to Summer Floating Holiday(s) on the St. Thomas HR website for administration details.
- Vacation carryover: We want to encourage you to take time off to recharge. In 2022, salaried staff will be allowed to carry over vacation days that would normally expire on June 30, 2022 to December 31, 2022. Hourly employees receiving paid leave time can carry forward 160 hours.
- Meeting-free Fridays: Because Fridays filled with meetings can push work tasks to the weekend, we are asking everyone to avoid scheduling meetings on Fridays this summer to the extent possible.
- And remember that Juneteenth is now a federal holiday (June 20 this year), and the university will be closed.
Your rest is well-deserved, as your hard work has already contributed to a bright future: our incoming undergraduate class is on track to be our most diverse ever and our largest in recent years, we’ll have more students living on campus than we’ve ever had, and construction of the Schoenecker Center is underway. As tired as we may be, please recognize one simple truth: our mission has never mattered more to the world than it does today. On behalf of all the lives your work has touched, thank you.