"Eighty percent of life is showing up." – Woody Allen
St. Thomas is showing up.
I noticed it at the Academic Convocation, President Julie Sullivan’s first address to the faculty. OEC auditorium was full to bursting. Faculty did not leave a vacant seat on the first floor. When I encountered Ashley Shams and Michael Scham of Modern and Classical Languages on the way to the reception, they told me there also were many faculty in the balcony. I’ve never seen such a turnout. Clearly everyone was eager to kick off the semester and hear from our new president. The message was strong and well-received. There was prolonged and enthusiastic applause greeting Dr. Sullivan and her message.
The following Monday it was the community brown-bag lunch. I’ve always enjoyed a brown-bag – eat lunch, see friends, learn a little something and enjoy one or more of the Food Service’s excellent cookies. (They really should up the percentage of chocolate chip cookies; those always go first.) Usually the crowd is so-so, but this time Woulfe was noticeably populated. I don’t think it was just the cookies.
The brown-bag series is designed to be participatory. In this case, Mike Cogan gave a brief summary of the climate and planning surveys completed last spring and turned the meeting over to Dr. Sullivan. She talked about upcoming strategic planning and solicited input from the group.
Well, St. Thomas didn’t just show up; we also participated. Wendy Wyatt, Communication and Journalism, helped out by asking the first question about reconciliation of conflicting priorities. Subsequent issues ranged from the global – survival of civilization, sustainability and change makers – to the local – silos, adjunct compensation, diversity at UST, financial pressures resulting from declines in law and business graduate enrollments, and availability of evening and online courses.
Dr. Sullivan expressed her optimism, a result of the university’s tradition of always looking at the needs and best interests of our students. She knows us already.
I’m optimistic, too. There’s a lot of life in St. Thomas as we near the end of our thirteenth decade. We are still showing up and we are still following up. As our new vision is defined, we are looking forward to our next round of strategic planning.
And I’m looking forward to our next brownbag. Join Dr. Sullivan, Sam Levy, Mary Reichardt and Jennifer Haas next month in Minneapolis to talk about online and hybrid learning opportunities.
I hear the cookies are really good in Minneapolis.