Father Dennis Dease

UST Accomplishments During Father Dease's Presidency

The 22 years of Father Dennis Dease's presidency were a time of massive change at the University of St. Thomas.

• Established undergraduate majors in actuarial science, American culture and difference, biochemistry, Catholic studies, electrical engineering, entrepreneurship, environmental science, environmental studies, mechanical engineering, neuroscience and women’s studies.
• Established master’s programs in accountancy, art history, (full-time) business administration, Catholic studies, electrical engineering, English, health care management, human resources management, mechanical engineering, music education, pastoral ministry, police leadership, public policy and leadership, real estate, regulatory science, student affairs and technology management.
• Established a doctoral program in organizational management and a juris doctorate.
• Received accreditation from national or international associations for programs in business, divinity, education, engineering, law, professional psychology and social work.
• Opened centers or institutes in Catholic studies, entrepreneurship, ethical business cultures, ethical leadership in the professions, family business, interfaith learning, Irish studies, Muslim-Christian dialogue, nonprofit management, real estate education and women.
• Established a London Business Semester and Rome Catholic Studies Semester.


Catholic Identity
• Co-sponsored and hosted “Catholic Higher Education: Practice and Promise,” a national conference attended by 450 educators from 130 colleges in 1995.
• Established the Center for Catholic Studies, the first such program in the country, in 1993. The center has bachelor’s and master’s degrees and institutes in Catholic Leadership, Catholic Social Thought, and Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy, and publishes the journal Logos.
• Opened the Bernardi Campus in Rome in 2000.
• Opened the School of Law, with its distinctive mission of “integrating faith and reason in the search for truth,” in 2001.
• Established the Murray Institute, which has provided 700 teachers and principals in archdiocesan schools with tuition-free education specialist and master’s degrees and certificates since 1992.
• Helped to strengthen two affiliated seminaries; enrollment of men preparing for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary grew in 2012 to 104, the highest since 1980, and St. John Vianney Seminary enrollment set a record of 165 in 2009.
• Renovated the sanctuary of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.


Community Engagement and Community Service
• Established Business 200, a 40-hour community service requirement for undergraduate business majors, in 1991. More than 11,500 students have donated 460,000 hours at 4,000 different service sites in 27 states and 21 countries.
• Serves as the authorizer of six charter schools in the Twin Cities area; three charter schools first were sponsored by St. Thomas in 2000.
• Established the Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services, a collaboration among the School of Law, School of Social Work and Graduate School of Professional Psychology, in 2003.
• Created the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning in 1996 by combining similar programs at St. Thomas and St. John’s; the center was renamed the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning in 2009.
• Became the home for ThreeSixty Journalism, a program to strengthen the writing skills, civic literacy and college-readiness of teenagers, in 2001.
• Established the Center for Intercultural Learning and Community Engagement in 2008 to replace the Center for Community Partnerships in supporting community and service learning programs.


• Initiated 20 major building projects with an investment of $350 million.
• Established a downtown Minneapolis campus with four buildings – Terrence Murphy Hall (1992), Opus Hall (1999), School of Law (2002) and Schulze Hall (2005) – and commissioned the fresco project on virtues in Terrence Murphy Hall.
• Opened three academic buildings in St. Paul – O’Shaughnessy and Owens Science halls in the Frey Science and Engineering Center (1997) and McNeely Hall (2006) – and renovated Albertus Magnus Hall for seven departments, renaming it the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts (2000).
• Improved campus and residential life experiences by opening Morrison Hall (1998), Flynn Hall (2005) and three Anderson buildings: Parking Facility (2009), Athletic and Recreation Complex (2010) and Student Center (2012).
• Reached agreement with the City of St. Paul on a Conditional Use Permit to govern the redevelopment of the two blocks bounded by Summit, Cleveland, Grand and Cretin avenues (2004).
• Dedicated architect Frank Gehry’s renowned Winton Guest House at Gainey Conference Center in Owatonna (2011) after moving the house from its original site on Lake Minnetonka.
• Moved the Child Development Center into its own building at Grand Avenue and Finn Street (2005); it began in Christ Child Hall (1998).


Financial Stewardship
• Raised $765 million in two capital campaigns: Ever Press Forward ($250 million from 24,387 benefactors, concluded in 2001) and Opening Doors ($515 million, 43,359 donors, 2012).
• Grew investments from $122 million to $442 million (+262 percent).
• Increased the number of annual donors from 6,499 in 1991 to 15,419 in 2012, and increased faculty and staff participation in the Annual Fund from 17 percent in 2002 to a record 58 percent in 2012.
• Received $15.5 million in federal funds for planning and construction of the Frey Science and Engineering Center.


• Adopted a new mission statement in 2004: “Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.”
• Began using the tagline, “Challenge Yourself, Change Our World” in 2003, replacing “Come Prepared to Learn, Leave Prepared to Succeed.”
• Set enrollment records of 11,570 (overall) in 2001, 6,336 (undergraduate) in 2012 and 6,154 (graduate) in 2001. Students of color tripled (to 14 percent in 2012) and international students tripled (to 401 in 2012).
• Increased four-year graduation rate from 42 percent to 60 percent and five-year graduation rate from 63 percent to 72 percent.


Honors and Recognition

• Cited as early as 1992 by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 15 (among 122) regional institutions in the Midwest, and achieved its highest ranking in the national universities category in 2012: No. 113 (among 281).
• Ranked by the Institute for International Education as high as first nationally (in 2005) and regularly in the top 10 among doctoral universities for undergraduate participation in study abroad programs, which more than quadrupled (216 students in 1991-92 to 915 in 2011-12).
• Designated in 2006 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as one of 76 U.S. institutions in a new “Community Engagement” classification.
• Received (Dease) the National Catholic Education Association’s highest honor, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, in 2008 for lifelong work as a Catholic educator.