Amy Smith headshot.
Mark Brown/University of St. Thomas

School of Education's Leadership Continuity

Executive Vice President and Provost Eddy Rojas shared the following in an email to the University of St. Thomas community on Nov. 7, 2022.  

When an institution goes through significant leadership changes – as St. Thomas has experienced over the past year – a little continuity can feel very comforting.

With this in mind, I am happy to announce that we have extended the contract of Dr. Amy Smith to remain interim dean of our School of Education through the end of the 2023-24 academic year. Those of you who have had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Smith have probably heard her use the words “fiercely loyal” when she describes her relationship with St. Thomas. Those are more than words for her. In addition to having earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at St. Thomas and meeting her husband here, she also has spent the past 22 years of her career at the university. For those reasons, it’s easy to see why St. Thomas is near and dear to her heart.

She is near and dear to ours as well!

Over the years, Dr. Smith has been an integral part of the School of Education’s faculty and leadership team as it has continued its mission to diversify the teacher workforce, eliminate barriers for people to become teachers and establish partnerships with Minnesota’s largest school districts. The innovative support of faculty and staff have allowed the School of Education to:

  • Play a crucial role in expanding our signature residency program that allows participants to receive stipends and benefits while participating in full-year classroom apprenticeships (a rarity in the teaching profession).
  • Help establish St. Thomas’ Work and Learn program that allows prospective special education employees in Minnesota school districts to earn teaching licenses while working in their districts. This program has played a major role in reducing the costs for these employees to enter the teaching profession.
  • Work with donors to eliminate financial barriers to obtain teaching degrees through scholarships and stipends for field work.
  • Help launch the Minnesota Institute for Trauma-Informed Education (MITIE), which is helping teachers better identify and respond to students in classrooms who have experienced or are experiencing trauma. Dr. Smith is helping St. Thomas take a leadership role in policy discussions around this initiative.
  • Work to establish a partnership with St. Paul Public Schools that allows high school students to take education courses through our Dougherty Family College (DFC) before enrolling at St. Thomas.

Dr. Smith’s involvement extends in many other ways when it comes to shaping the role of the School of Education as it continues to have a meaningful impact in preparing and advancing K-12 teachers. This aspect represents one of the most important aspects of our university’s overall mission to serve the common good.

In addition to extending Dr. Smith’s contract, I am also pleased to announce that Dr. Sandra Menssen has agreed to remain associate dean at the School of Education. Dr. Menssen, who has been a St. Thomas faculty member since 1988, and associate dean in the School of Education since 2018, has continued her important leadership role alongside Dr. Smith since Dr. Kathlene Campbell’s departure as dean earlier this year.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Smith as we look forward to her continued leadership, partnership and friendship at St. Thomas.