Why I Chose St. Thomas

Transfer Katrina Jax believes that ‘faith opportunities are made easy’ When Katrina Jax of Chandler, Ariz., transferred to St. Thomas in September 2005 to begin her sophomore year, she had good reasons. Familiar with St. Thomas because she has extended family in the area, she liked the academic reputation, admired the beautiful campus and wanted…

Transfer Katrina Jax believes that ‘faith opportunities are made easy’
When Katrina Jax of Chandler, Ariz., transferred to St. Thomas in September 2005 to begin her sophomore year, she had good reasons. Familiar with St. Thomas because she has extended family in the area, she liked the academic reputation, admired the beautiful campus and wanted a college in a metropolitan area.

Beyond those reasons, however, was a central motivation. “I liked Elmira, a small, private college in upstate New York, but it did not offer the opportunities to strengthen my faith life the way I know St. Thomas does,” she explained. “I had gone to Catholic schools all my life and I missed the sense of Christian fellowship. Elmira was a good school, but I felt God leading me in another direction.”

At St. Thomas, faith opportunities are “made easy, with opportunities for Bible study, and traditional and contemporary worship. I live on campus, so if I don’t go to Mass, that is my fault. I’m involved with Ignite, a group with a more contemporary form of worship and music, so I have the best of both worlds. And I love the chapel with its atmosphere of reverence. It reminds me of an Italian cathedral.”

Jax has honor student credentials and St. Thomas scholarships that cover about half her tuition. So it’s natural that the other building she admires is the “gorgeous library. That and the chapel are the hearts of the campus.”

“I may sound like a nerd,” she laughed, “but I have a passion for learning and actually am excited to do homework. My classes offer the academic challenge I thought would come with St. Thomas.”

Philosophy of the Human Person with instructor Michael Rota is one of her favorites. “I had never taken philosophy so his class is very interesting. I get to ponder my own existence. I love to think about stuff like that.” Even an 8 a.m. class in sociology, “which I thought would be awful because I hate to get up early, is now something I look forward to because Dr. William Kinney makes it fun. He tells a lot of amazing stories.”

Then there is basketball. Jax, who played on competitive teams in high school and college, was impressed with the new women’s coach, Ruth Sinn ’84, and will try out next year. “I love sports. A player learns to think on her feet and interact with a team. It gives women an edge, I think, since athletes are seen as tougher people anyway,” said Jax, whose major is broadcast journalism. Her goal is to be an ESPN sportscaster.

In Minnesota, her grandparents, who own Zup’s grocery stores in Ely, “literally make me bring home food, as do my aunts and uncles. My roommate, Heather Pastorius from the University of Montana, also a transfer, likes that.” Each year, about 300 students transfer to St. Thomas.

Unexpected friends also welcomed Jax to St. Thomas. “Our campus tour leader was from my high school in Arizona, and another friend is a grad student here. I couldn’t believe it. They both warned me about winter, saying ‘Come November, you’ll regret this.’ We’ll see.”

- Pat Nemo

Senior citizen Dale Beihoffer finds it healthy to get intellectually involved
Dale Beihoffer, a retired attorney, always wanted to know if he could “handle undergrad classes in subjects that interested me, especially math.”

Apparently he can. A student through the Center for Senior Citizens’ Education, he recently co-wrote a refereed research paper on mathematics, “Faster Algorithms for Frobenius Numbers,” that was published in a math journal.

Beihoffer, 61, thought he had taken his last math class in 1963 when he graduated from Dartmouth College as a philosophy major. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1968 and practiced labor and employment law in Minneapolis. He has been active in community organizations and taught English with the Global Volunteers in China.

When he retired due to medical reasons, he took a Discrete Mathematics class with Dr. Melissa Shepherd. (For a one-time fee of $50, senior citizens can audit regular undergraduate classes on a space-available basis.) “She’s a very creative and knowledgeable teacher. The class of about 10 math majors worked collaboratively. The students are marvelous, polite and hard working. And when they started razzing me and called out, ‘Hey, Dale, nice haircut!’ (it was a bad haircut), I knew they accepted me.

“It’s trite to say, but it is very healthful to get intellectually involved with young people. It’s not just the social aspect of getting out and involved and connected; it’s also the real sense of contribution to learning in a class,” said Beihoffer, who takes courses in many areas, including the Geographic Information System, and Politics and the Supreme Court.

The Senior Citizen program is great, he says, a “no-risk way to see if you enjoy the work.” It has a wide variety of options, from auditing regular classes to $20 one-day Lunch and Learn programs or a series of $50 special programs (usually six to eight meetings) on topics ranging from World War II to Shakespeare. Each semester, about 1,000 people enroll in the center’s programs.

Beihoffer, who became interested in graph theory in Shepherd’s class, “rediscovered the sense of joy that comes from solving problems.” So he looked around for more number theory and found Stan Wagon at Macalester College, who let Beihoffer sit in on his class. Beihoffer submitted a research paper on number theory, applying graphs to solving problems. With the help of Wagon and Internet co-authors, it became “Faster Algorithms.” Basically, Beihoffer wrote a program that takes half as much time to tackle Frobenius problems.

A typical Frobenius problem is the Chicken McNugget problem. “McDonald’s only sells McNuggets in portions of six, nine and 20, and if you want only 13 without wasting any extras, how do you write equations that offer solutions?” Beihoffer said. “See, working with numbers is fun.”

Beihoffer and his wife, Janet, live in Lakeville. Staying “intellectually engaged” is important to them – which explains why they “threw the TV out of the house” a few years ago when the youngest of the four Beihoffer children went off to college.

- Pat Nemo

MBA student Amanda Reed has found a ‘lot of personal attention’ from teachers
Now fully entrenched in her St. Thomas MBA experience, second-year full-time student Amanda Reed is the first to admit she would never have imagined herself traveling to Minnesota from her native St. Louis to attend school, to say nothing of pursuing her M.B.A.

“I’d always envisioned getting my chemical engineering degree and then going directly to med school,” she said. With a brother attending the University of Minnesota, though, she started considering the possibility of moving north.

“I figured that in Minnesota, all it does is snow, so that would leave me with more time to study!” Reed joked. She completed her B.S. in engineering at the University of Minnesota but realized soon after graduating that she wanted something different.

Reed gravitates to and thrives in leadership roles, whether formal or informal. At St. Thomas, she sits on the board of the Twin Cities chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA).  Reed’s love of working with people and her strong sense of purpose and determination contribute to her belief that at St. Thomas she has found her niche.

A friend enrolled in the full-time MBA program introduced her to St. Thomas. “I’d already done the big classroom thing at the U, and I knew I didn’t want that again,” Reed said. She attended an information session and knew right away that St. Thomas would be a natural fit. “They told us that we’d get all kinds of personal attention whether we wanted it or not,” she said.

Reed was also very impressed that Dean Christopher Puto of the College of Business not only knows students individually but he also taught one of her first-year marketing courses. “That proved to me that he walks the talk.”

Reed especially appreciates that her St. Thomas MBA education is embedded with real-life experiences – and not just the pleasant kind. “We work through conflicts such as how to deal with someone not carrying his or her own weight. We sometimes have to learn the hard  way – through our mistakes,” Reed said.

That’s fine with her. “Professor Tom Ressler taught us early on that taking risks at school is the best way to learn.” That way, MBA students become more effective problem solvers on the job.

“His lesson hit home for me so many times,” Reed said. She had the opportunity to put her experience to the test during her summer internship as a store team “lead” at Target Corp.

When Reed completes her M.B.A. in May, she’s confident that employers will recognize that St. Thomas graduates have the whole package – not just the requisite accounting and finance skills, but also the critical communication and leadership skills that will help them rise to the top.

In the meantime, Reed will continue to capitalize on all that she’s learning. “I can’t say enough good things about St. Thomas,” Reed said. “I just love it here.”

- Kristy Blegen

Wise guy: Bob Douglas mixes music, mentorship, environmentalism
Novelists and moviemakers like stories where wisdom rests low on the ladder of recognition: The university janitor is the prodigy with the Ph.D. and the little guy comes off the bench to win the championship. In real life, more subtle versions of these characters abound: One is Bob Douglas.

Douglas, 57, is St. Thomas’ coordinator of recycling and central receiving in the Physical Plant. To find his office, you walk through a big garage door and wind your way around piles of flattened cardboard. But if you look closely, you’ll see taped to Douglas’ office window words of wisdom by Edith Stein, Thomas Merton, John Ruskin and John F. Kennedy.

“I’m a lifelong learner,” proclaims Texas native Douglas, who has a B.A. in philosophy and studio art from St. Paul’s Macalester College and has as many books in his office as most faculty members do. He’s one of those staffers who serve as willing mentors for St. Thomas students. He knows he’s earned their respect when they visit, years later, with their own kids in tow.

“It’s good teachers who will most influence your life,” Douglas tells the students, and he’s living proof. A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, he credits a respected teacher of Eastern religions for helping him to understand his own pacifism. Communal living and helping to found one of St. Paul’s early food co-ops honed his stewardship of the Earth’s resources. Studying in Europe stretched his interests in world culture and arts, including music.

Like a lot of kids in the 60s, Douglas took up guitar-playing in high school. But his musical career didn’t end in someone’s garage. He spent 13 years as a professional folk musician, including several with Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” Powdermilk Biscuit Band. He’s one of the regulars in St. Thomas’ Show’d Up Band, an entertainment fixture at a variety of campus events.

With a young family in 1983, Douglas needed more financial stability. He became a night custodian at St. Thomas and liked it – even became a night supervisor. And his wife, Susan, was able to quit her teaching job and stay home as their five children grew.

In 1995 Douglas was promoted to a day job: He was chosen to lead the university’s recycling program, which students started in 1988. The operation had moved out of an old Murray Hall trash room in 1993 to a 1,200-square-foot recycling center, an addition to the Physical Plant building. Last year, the university recycled more than 380 tons of stuff: batteries, books, cans, cardboard, electronics, fluorescents, food, glass, magazines, newspaper, pallets, paper, phone books and plastic.

Douglas supervises the university’s Recycling Team – students who pick up and sort campus recyclables – and advises the student Green Team, promoters of environmental friendliness. Together, they organize a twice-a-year Mississippi River Cleanup and a tree giveaway to celebrate Earth Day, which just happens to be Douglas’ birthday.

“I came to St. Thomas because of financial necessity, but I stay because this is an energetic place to be with faculty, staff and students,” Douglas said. “It’s a beautiful campus and has wonderful resources. There’s a certain synergy here that’s rewarding.”

- Pat Sirek

For biologist Jill Manske,‘teaching and doing research with students are my passion’
Receiving a $92,970 National Science Foundation grant in 2002 was very important for Dr. Jill Manske’s research in immunology. So was St. Thomas’ ability to match that challenge grant, as required by the NSF. And Manske’s appreciation of the Frey Science and Engineering Center, which opened in 1997, is heartfelt. “When I started teaching here, we were in Magnus Hall with limited room, so this is wonderful. We have more space to do research and we attract more good students. This speaks to the university’s commitment to the sciences.”

Manske, a biology professor who came to St. Thomas in 1991, said “teaching is my passion but I love doing research as well, so working in the Biology Department is perfect. I have three to seven students in my lab each semester. Part of the mission of St. Thomas is that students do real research.” Manske is studying how the nervous system interacts with the immune system to direct the body’s immune response to cancer.

“The most genuine way to teach science is to get students excited, hooked on asking questions, and doing the real work of science. That’s why St. Thomas is wonderful. At many larger universities, undergraduates don’t have the opportunity to do research. Here we consider research to be an important component of a science education. Even though it may be expensive as students can make mistakes as they learn, they gain confidence and come to a deeper understanding. Just as pianists learn by putting their hands on the keys of a piano, students learn by putting hands on scientific instruments,” she explained. Like many faculty, Manske co-authors professional papers with students and takes them to national meetings such as the National American Association of Immunologists. Travel is funded by her department.

Being able to do detailed cell analysis by using an expensive instrument such as a pulse flow cytometer is uncommon in an undergraduate science program. “Our labs are as well equipped as most immunology labs, so it is great to provide my students with the kind of research experiences that they would experience at a larger research university,” Manske said.

There are 170 biology majors and 68 biochemistry majors. Many go on to medical, research or teaching careers.  Because St. Thomas requires non-science majors to take one lab science, several hundred choose Human Biology.  “Understanding biological issues today is essential, so that educated citizens can make choices when it comes to everything from cloning to stem cells to vaccinating children to identifying dietary propaganda,” Manske said.

Manske also teaches courses such as Gender and Science and remembers “an adviser telling me I shouldn’t get married because it would be a distraction from my scientific work,” laughed the wife of attorney Michael Klutho and the mother of three children, ages 16, 14 and 11. “How many guys are told that? Right now, St. Thomas has more women than men biology majors. The culture of research science is time-consuming, but balancing life is something we all struggle with. Most faculty here put in about 60 hours a week – on campus or at home. Often after dinner at our house, we’re all five sitting around the kitchen table doing our homework.”

– Pat Nemo

Seminarian and football All-American  Ben Kessler focuses on faith and football
Ben Kessler is an unusual student with a remarkable passion for work and play.

Perhaps you know the St. Thomas senior from Janesville, Wis., for his 4.0 grade-point average in a double major of business and philosophy and his Academic All-America distinction.

Or for his tireless devotion to campus, community and church volunteer work. He earned a spot on the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.

Or his Tommie football exploits as a 6-foot-2, 245-pound starting defensive tackle. He recorded 21 quarterback sacks among his 165 career tackles.

Or for his high energy with his classmates at St. John Vianney Seminary and his plan to become what he has thought about for years – a Catholic priest.

Kessler’s combo platter has generated unheard of media coverage for a non-scholarship Division III student-athlete. Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, Fox Sports, NCAA Sports.com and local outlets such as Fox Sports North, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and College Sporting News have told his story. Consider that the St. Thomas sports information office could only find two college football letter winners nationally in the last 20 years who became priests.

Kessler chose St. Thomas “because this was the only place I could do the three things I wanted to do most in college: study business, play football and give the seminary a try. Looking back on my decision four years later, I am not disappointed.

“Those three parts of my college life have each played an important role in my growth. The academics have forced me to be responsible in getting my work done. Football has helped me become a team player. The seminary has provided me with spiritual growth, and, really, this has been the most important growth of all in my years here.”

Asked to list his top memories of  St. Thomas, Kessler chose the expected – and the unusual. “One great memory is the St. John’s football game my sophomore year in 2003. Although we lost 15-12 on the game’s final play, this was a great experience; it was almost as if time stood still that afternoon. That game was like all St. John’s games – awfully hard to explain in words.

“Another great memory was that a group of four seminarians, myself included, entered a competition and were named to the Homecoming Court this year.”

Kessler has received a lot of media attention and thinks “it has been good for St. Thomas, St. John Vianney Seminary and the Catholic Church as a whole. I wouldn’t want that kind of attention my whole life, but I got the chance to meet many people and hopefully touch their lives. People have told me how surprised they are with my seemingly polar opposite football-seminary combination, but I just feel they have more in common than everyone thinks. I am doing things that any other Catholic man should do; I am simply playing football and discerning the priesthood. In reality, all men should discern religious life at some point, and all men should live out their dreams (such as football) to the fullest.”

His football experience will help him become a better priest because it taught him about being a team player, Kessler said. “Life in the church is not that much different. Each part of the Body of Christ, each member of the church, plays an important role in building the Kingdom of God. If any kind of team is missing a part, the whole suffers.”

Kessler, who will begin major seminary in Rome this summer, would advise future St. Thomas students to “place yourself out of your comfort zone. I’ve had the most fun and seen myself grow the most when I have entered uncomfortable situations.”

– Gene McGivern

Cathy Augustin ‘knew St. Thomas would be the right fit’
Cathy Augustin, graduate student in music education, came to St. Thomas in 2002, knowing this was where she belonged.

“Many of the other students are in-service teachers,” she explains, “encountering many of the same things I do.” Her encounters with faculty quickly confirmed that she had made a good choice. “Each faculty member took the time to get to know me and treat me as not just a student, but as a valued colleague in the field of teaching music.

“We all had the same goal,” Augustin concluded, “of passing on the knowledge and love of music to our students.”

A band and general music teacher at Berea Lutheran School, Augustin received her bachelor of music education from South Dakota State University in 1988. She enjoys her work and plans to continue at the same school after she graduates.

“Some day,” she adds, “I would love to be able to teach music education courses to college students as they prepare to go out and inspire others in music.”

Augustin’s first experience at St. Thomas came not long after she moved to the Twin Cities. “I was interested in taking a music workshop which was only to be found at St. Thomas: Orff Schulwerk.”

Orff Schulwerk uses music and movement to teach children about music, and St. Thomas is well-known throughout the United States for its instruction in the method. Augustin enjoyed the course and was impressed by the people she met.

Years later, she attended a graduation ceremony for a friend who was receiving a doctor of musical arts degree at Arizona State. “When I got to the campus and attended the ceremony, I couldn’t help but think about how much there was still to learn about music. Why would someone not want to continue learning about something they love?” It wasn’t long before she enrolled in the master’s in music education program at St. Thomas.

Now finished with her coursework and working on her thesis, Augustin recalls her classes with warmth. “We all learned so much from each other in a very ‘give and take’ way. People are so willing to share what works for them.

“I also feel that I have developed my personal musicality, which helps me to be a better musician and teacher,” she said. “I will miss the connection and opportunity to talk about music education with others – to the extent I was able during my classes – when I graduate.”

- Kate Norlander

Trustee Ann Winblad ‘made the time’ to devote to St. Thomas
Innovation never has been more important to Ann Winblad’s career than it is now.

The 1975 alumna always has had a fast-paced life, thanks to her involvement in the high technology industry for three decades and the risks that her company has taken in financing 95 software startups.

But the last five years have been particularly frenetic in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, the collapse of many dot-com companies and the emergence of global competitors as chronicled in Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat.

“At Hummer-Winblad, the focus is on innovation,” Winblad said of the venture capital firm that she co-founded in 1989. “We are working in an information economy worldwide. What has changed is the rapid globalization and participation of so many up-and-coming economies. They have accelerated the pace of innovation and served as a challenge to the rest of us.”

As entrepreneurial as Winblad has been, she finds inspiration in pioneers such as her longtime friend, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Richard Schulze, founder of Best Buy and a fellow St. Thomas trustee.

“When you watch people like Bill and Dick, you know it’s possible to find more time to make a difference, to be a contributor,” she said. “You learn how to be a good trustee, a good civic leader and a good philanthropist and still be successful in business and spend time with your family.”

The Red Wing native grew up in Rushford and Farmington, where her dad taught history, coached basketball and was a counselor. He received a master’s degree in guidance counseling from St. Thomas in 1968 and encouraged his oldest daughter to attend the College of St. Catherine.

She majored in mathematics and business and took many classes at St. Thomas, graduating in 1973 and earning a master’s degree in education two years later from St. Thomas. Using a $500 loan from her brother, she co-founded Open Systems, which wrote accounting software, and sold the company seven years later for $15 million.

When Winblad joined the St. Thomas board of trustees in 1998, she worried she might not have the time to devote to her alma mater. But she has made the time, and she looks back on her decision as a wise and fruitful one.

“All graduates have a responsibility to help, to give back,” she said. “I want to bring alumni back to campus to contribute – financially, as mentors to students, as participants in events – and to understand our aspirations and how hard we work to deliver the best-possible education.”

Winblad backs up her words with action. In addition to her work as a trustee – she is on the Institutional Advancement and Academic Affairs committees – she is a leader of a “Next Generation” effort to involve alumni from the 1970s and 1980s in the life of the university.

“There are so many opportunities to be engaged,” she said. “What we get back from St. Thomas is far more than what we have put in.”

- Doug Hennes ’77

‘No one is left out or forgotten here’ say Ugandan students
For Ugandan students Humphrey Tusiimirwe and his sisters, Doryne Tunanukye and Mavreen Anaura, their journey to St. Thomas came through the intervention and generosity of Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas.

Humphrey, 23, a junior psychology major, had pursued distance learning on organizational behavior with Dr. Martin O’Riley at Martyr’s University. O’Riley met Dease at an international conference of Catholic universities, recommended his bright student, and Dease brought him – and later his two sisters – to St. Thomas.

“My visa was delayed for months because of the aftermath of 9/11. I came here Jan. 20, 2004,” Humphrey recalled. “It was through the efforts of Father Dease and Sen. Norm Coleman that I finally got a visa. We are all grateful for their generosity. A university education is a priority in Uganda, which has about 14 universities.”

English is the official language in Uganda due to former British colonization, so Humphrey has adapted to university life well. He enjoyed class with Dr. Nancy Zingale, “who inspired me to be interested in political science and encouraged me to think globally and act locally. I became passionate about American government during the presidential elections.” Dr. Buffy Smith “explored social problems across the world. The greatest dangers in the world today are connected – poverty and AIDS – a vicious cycle in which the world’s hardest hit areas are entangled in a culture of poverty that is breeding ground for a deadly scourge.”

He also educates St. Thomas students. “At least, they now know that Africa is not just one country. I encourage them to travel and see the world. It changes one’s perspectives and paradigms on so many different levels.” Humphrey’s plans include a graduate degree in industrial psychology and a return to Uganda to implement what he has learned in the United States.

Doryne, 21, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, has been at St. Thomas since September 2004 and would like to get home soon to visit her widowed mother and younger brother and sister. And she invites friends to come to Uganda: “It’s beautiful – we say we have 1,000 shades of green, just like Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes,” she laughed.

Doryne, who one of her professors described as one of the brightest mathematics students he has taught at St. Thomas, hopes to do an internship, work and go to graduate school.

She volunteers, plays intramural soccer, sprints on the track team and observes. “Education is different here, as teachers involve students more in class rather than just lecture. My advisers, Dr. Jeff Jalkio and Dr. Jeff McLean, keep me dreaming big and help me to define my goals. I feel very comfortable here because everyone on the faculty and staff at St Thomas is always willing to put their services at your disposal and also go an extra mile,” she noted.

Mavreen, 19, also a sophomore, and vice president of the Globally Minded Student Association, believes in “students exchanging cultures through fun activities. We learn more and we grow more.”

A possible double major in accounting and computer science, Mavreen works 10 hours a week on campus, as do her two siblings. She was glad to have the 2005 Professor of the Year, in Dr. Bernard Brady, for theology. “In his class, learning is all about involvement,” she said.

An international student mentor, Mavreen notes foreign students “offer different perspectives in classes. We bring more to the table in terms of thinking globally.”

What impresses her is that “everyone here is catered to, from commuters to transfers to international students. No one is left out or forgotten. And in class, you can learn because the professors focus their attention on you. That’s St. Thomas.”

- Pat Nemo

Patrick Schiltz made a career “leap of faith” as founding associate dean of School of Law
Describing what Patrick Schiltz does when he makes a career change as a “leap of faith” does not quite do it justice. When Schiltz takes leaps of faith, he takes them big.

Schiltz was a young partner at a law firm in Minneapolis when his firm won the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation – a multibillion dollar verdict that was sure to make Schiltz and his partners wealthy when it was collected. But in 1995 Schiltz left behind his share of the verdict – as well as his partnership and a life of economic security – in order to start over as a junior faculty member at Notre Dame Law School. There, he quickly became a popular teacher and a nationally recognized scholar. He was elected Notre Dame’s “Professor of the Year” in 1999.

One year later, Schiltz took his second career leap of faith and signed on with the University of St. Thomas School of Law as its founding associate dean. At that time, there were no students and no faculty, except for David Link, who had recently retired as Schiltz’s dean at Notre Dame and had agreed to serve as founding dean at St. Thomas until the new law school opened its doors. Although he had help from Link and two lawyers who had served on St. Thomas’ Board of Trustees – Sister Sally Furay and Professor Thomas Holloran – Schiltz had primary responsibility for the day-to-day work of creating the new law school.

“It was a big risk,” said Schiltz. “But I felt it was worth it. I loved Notre Dame, but I knew that only once in my life would I get an invitation like this. The chance to build a law school, literally from the ground up, doesn’t come along very often.” Schiltz worried that, if he didn’t seize the opportunity, he would spend his life wondering “what could have been.”

Another draw for Schiltz was the fact that this new law school would be a part of the University of St. Thomas. Schiltz had visited St. Thomas as a high school student, but he could not afford to attend, so he went to college in Duluth, where he could live at home and work during the evenings. However, when Schiltz visited the St. Thomas campus in 1999 to speak at the annual Red Mass, he was amazed at the academic and physical changes that had taken place. Having a stable, established university supporting the new law school was crucial for Schiltz. “I called friends and former colleagues in the Twin Cities, and I kept hearing that St. Thomas had ‘the Midas touch’ – that everything it did, it did well,” remembers Schiltz.

Once Schiltz decided to change careers a second time, he threw himself into getting the new law school open.  He had 13 months before the students arrived – if students arrived. He worked to recruit that first class of students, while also working to shape the mission, hire the faculty, recruit a permanent dean, design the new building, plan the budget, draft the policies, shape the curriculum, and accomplish many other tasks. At times, he worked 80-hour weeks.

Mission always came first. “It wasn’t enough to open another law school, or even another good law school,” said Schiltz, who holds the St. Thomas More Chair in Law. “Our charge was to open a good law school with a meaningful Catholic identity – an identity that would inspire our graduates to use their legal training to make a real difference in the world.”

The leaps Schiltz has made were called “crazy” by many of his friends, but, looking back, he has no regrets. “For the rest of my life, I will be able to walk into this beautiful building, and I will be able to read about the great things that our graduates are doing, and I will be able to ask myself, ‘Aren’t you glad you took the risk?’ ” said Schiltz.

As content as he is, Schiltz's days of leaping may not be over. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in November that he is President Bush's “probable pick” for a federal judgeship in Minnesota.

Confirmation hearings will be held early this year.

Physics major, Middle Eastern minor Rebecca Lucast enjoys diverse interestsBy her own admission, Rebecca Lucast ’06 thinks like a scientist. Good thing, too, since she received a full tuition science scholarship from St. Thomas. “My humanity classes are great, but it’s not what I want to study – it’s not how I think. I think like a scientist.”

Lucast has been thinking that way for a long time. Even as a sophomore in high school in North St. Paul, she already had visions of becoming a biochemistry major and launching a career as a forensic scientist. Luckily, her academic dreams meshed with St. Thomas when she received a full tuition scholarship in science from the university, and started toward that goal as a freshman.

As part of the coursework for her degree in biochemistry, Lucast chose a 2004 J-Term class in Costa Rica that introduced her to field research. After a month, she decided that field research was “not my thing,” and quickly ended her pursuit of a bio-chem degree. While that realization could have crippled some, Lucast instead found herself enjoying another aspect of the course: physics. And a new major was decided.

Lucast’s comfort in the Physics Department was almost immediate. “I would walk through the Physics Department and profs said ‘hi’ to me and knew my name,” she said. The level of involvement and familiarity from the physics faculty impressed Lucast and put her at ease. She credits Dr. Paul Ohmann and Dr. Marty Johnston, department chair, as the reasons she became a physics major. Ohmann worked with Lucast on a biophysics research project, modeling nerve axions as electrical circuits to study things such as multiple sclerosis. Johnston’s teaching style kept her interest: “He showed us how physics and physics research works in the real world.”

Physics isn’t Lucast’s only academic interest. While earning her physics degree, she was minoring in history, psychology and Middle Eastern studies, the latter as an ACTC minor with classes at Hamline and Macalester.

Her fascination with the Middle East led to a summer spent in Cairo as the result of winning an $8,000 National Security Education Program scholarship. She considers that time to be her greatest personal accomplishment: Her digital camera was stolen on her first day in Cairo, her Arabic was shaky, and the environment was not as she expected: “It was not the culture I had hoped to see. I was seeing the elite, wealthy, European side of Egyptian society.” Yet she hopes to return to the Middle East at some point and spend time studying the culture she missed.

For now, Lucast divides her time between her friends, her studies and her position as an apartment coordinator in Selby Hall. “It’s the circle of friends that makes the experience, not the location.” But if one throws in Lucast’s diversity in her studies and interests, she can look forward to a lifetime of exciting experiences.

- Peter Breuch

Tim and Beth Murphy stay connected through volunteerism
Your college years are over. You remain somewhat involved in campus activities but as time goes on, that gets tougher. You’ve become fully engaged in the “real world,” which might include grad school, job requirements, family life and all those major expenditures. It can take its toll, and what do you lose the most? For many, it’s their valuable time and the ability to make commitments.

Like many others, Tim ’86 and Beth (Doyle ’85) Murphy faced the same situation when their St. Thomas years were complete. But the Murphys decided early on that even though they weren’t on the St. Thomas campus on a daily basis, St. Thomas would still be a significant part of their lives. For them, the university was a major influence from the start: “St. Thomas was probably the number one reason we chose to live in the neighborhood – because of how close we could be to campus,” Tim said.

The Murphys met while in school and got married two years after Tim’s graduation. With the exception of living in Atlanta for a couple years due to a job transfer for Tim, they’ve lived in the Highland Park area of St. Paul ever since. The proximity to campus is just one reason they’ve become active St. Thomas volunteers.

“We’re a busy family – like many other families – but we really try to make the time to contribute something back,” said Beth, adding, “We see St. Thomas as giving us, and our kids, a true sense of community.”

The Murphys know that time is precious and don’t take it for granted. Tim, who majored in quantitative methods and computer science, works in sales for Printware, a small manufacturing firm, while Beth, a business administration major, works as a first grade teacher’s assistant at Highland Catholic School. Their children, Elizabeth, 13, Katheryn, 10, and Charlie, 6, maintain active schedules typical of a growing family, including school activities, sports and music practices, and church events.

But the Murphys have made volunteering a priority, even in the midst of hectic lives. Tim is in his third year on the Alumni Board of Directors and heads the Alumni-Student Relations Committee. Working with the mentoring program, Tim helps match up alums with students with similar career interests and aspirations. He’s also volunteered with Take a Tommie to Lunch, helped organize alumni soccer games and has participated in Homecoming events and the First Friday Luncheon Series. Away from campus, he’s active as a lector at Lumen Christi Parish in Highland Park, a member of the Serra Club and a soccer coach for St. Paul youth leagues.

Beth has an equally busy schedule. Besides working at Highland Catholic, she puts in many volunteer hours with its home and school association. Last fall, she was a committee member who helped organize her 20-year college reunion.

In addition to volunteering, personal relationships also have helped create that special sense of community the Murphys have experienced through St. Thomas. “We’re lucky enough to have known many faculty and staff members – Father James Lavin, Steve Fritz, Father Peter Laird and others,” Beth said. “Plus we’ve met some of our closest friends through St. Thomas.”

Giving of one’s time can be a sacrifice, but for the Murphys, it’s a natural decision to make. “Volunteering isn’t only a very personal thing, it’s fun,” said Tim, adding, “We’ve received more from St. Thomas than we’ll ever be able to give back.”

– Jeff Kasimor ’86

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