St. Thomas Community Lives out University's Mission

Editor's note: Karen Harthorn, director of Purchasing Services, submitted a guest column to The Scroll.

St. Thomas: What a great place to work. I can’t even count the ways!

I have been employed by St. Thomas for just two and one-half years and LOVE it! Where else can you do a retreat series over lunch and take professional development classes on Catholic social tradition and social justice? Additionally, as I have worked with a variety of departments I have been very impressed with the commitment, dedication and hard work of the faculty, staff and especially students.

On top of our regular jobs, I have found that UST thrives on service work and just plain thoughtfulness! Service is an integral part of our mission and culture … we truly do “think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.” Our faculty and staff support and teach this mission on a regular basis, and our students truly take it to heart.

I’m proud to say I have become the advisor of two great student clubs. One is the newly formed Students Against Multiple Sclerosis (SAMS) Club, which works with the Multiple Sclerosis Society on volunteer projects. My husband has MS, so I know how important this work is. These students add service to their busy academic, work and sports schedules.

I also am the advisor of the Club Hockey Team. Yes, I’m a hockey mom of an 11-year-old and love hockey! I couldn’t resist advising this club and students who show true commitment to their sport. They started the club five years ago and handle all of the logistics, including ice time, referees, schedules and travel.

For their service project last year, club members volunteered to set up at the MS Walk (OK … I may have swayed them in that direction). Bottom line: they did a fabulous job! They arrived at 5:30 a.m. and worked hard. The MS Society loved them and want them back again this year.

Finally, I also want to say thanks to everyone at St. Thomas for being so supportive of my family! My 14-year-old (Connor) has cerebral palsy, has been in a wheelchair and back brace and is on a lot of pain meds this winter because of a broken back. You can see our CaringBridge site at if you’d like to know more.

The Purchasing Services staff has worked hard to help cover for me, we have received many nice notes and wishes, and the student clubs have been generous in communicating regularly with Connor via Facebook. Club Hockey (, which is 20-5 and will be in a regional tournament this weekend in Chicago, sent him a great picture and get-well notes during finals week.

A heartfelt thanks, again, to everyone for making UST a great place to work and go to school!