President's Column: Proud and Grateful

President Julie Sullivan reflects on her love for the St. Thomas community as it continues to embrace the meaning of "home."

Homecoming-Family Weekend is always a highlight of fall semester at St. Thomas. We welcome alumni to come home to their alma mater – that lovely Latin phrase translated literally as “nourishing mother.” Students invite their families to see their new campus homes and often soothe a little homesickness too. The whole university family revels together in an exuberant parade down Summit Avenue. Hugging and picture-taking overflow all weekend. “Family and home” is a phrase that seamlessly blends old traditions and new promise.

And now, as we polish off the Thanksgiving leftovers and prepare for final exams and the Christmas holidays, we call to mind the blessings of home – the theme of this issue of the St. Thomas magazine.

All semester long, I was so proud of and grateful for my St. Thomas home and family. How proud and grateful? Let me count the ways:

  1. An extraordinary 1,741 new St. Thomas undergraduate students – including 147 in our newest class of Dougherty Family College students – marched through our Arches in September. Ten students from last May’s first DFC graduating class were selected for donor-funded, full-tuition scholarships to pursue their bachelor’s degrees at St. Thomas. We are delighted to watch these budding scholars bloom. In addition, 850 new law and graduate students joined our academic community.
  2. We welcomed new leaders to our St. Thomas family who are taking up important “first” roles for this university. Kha Yang, associate vice president for inclusive excellence, is guiding the university’s ongoing journey to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive. And Dr. MayKao Hang will serve as vice president and founding dean of our new College of Health.
  3. Our newly renovated Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas gleamed as we gathered for September’s Opening Mass of the Holy Spirit, a decades-old “family tradition.” The chapel now waits for its new neighbors, and the entire upper quad crawls with construction. We look forward to welcoming you to our new Iversen Center for Faith and two new residence halls next fall!
  4. We unveiled the university’s first comprehensive strategic plan for sustainability – an effort rooted in our response to Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home and in our mission to advance the common good.
  5. I am so grateful that our Tommie Athletics Department and a university task force have been methodically examining options for our new athletics conference home. We are a step closer on this exciting, energizing journey.
  6. Finally, I thank God and you for nurturing our campus family and for these reminders of home in the seasons of Advent and Christmas: our annual Christmas Concert and Christmas Tree-Lighting ceremony, the laughter of friends at our Alumni Christmas Luncheon, holiday lights glowing on the Quad, and the joyful spirit of our Christmas Eve Mass in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. We look forward to sharing these special seasons with you!

Read more from St. Thomas magazine.