St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan released the following statement in response to Tuesday’s news that the U.S. government has agreed to rescind Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rules, which would have barred international students from remaining in the U.S. if their colleges and universities were forced to move classes completely online due to COVID-19.

“I am incredibly relieved that the Department of Homeland Security has reversed its guidance that could have jeopardized our international students’ ability to stay and study in this country. The original decision caused a great deal of angst for our international students, faculty and staff at an already very tumultuous time.

“Our international students are an integral and cherished part of the fabric of our community. I was inspired by the numerous students, faculty and staff who advocated for and supported them during this time. We are very grateful for the diverse, global perspectives our international students bring to the St. Thomas community, our state and our country.”

Following last week’s guidance from ICE, St. Thomas faculty, staff and administrators immediately moved to support international students and began advocating for changes to the rules. The Office of Global Learning and Strategy hosted a town hall event attended by many concerned students, and St. Thomas’ deans and Office of Academic Affairs worked to ensure access to sufficient in-person and hybrid courses for the fall. Click here to read President Sullivan’s statement from last week.

“This has been a stunning and powerful demonstration of the community’s full support of the value each of our international students brings,” said Tim Lewis, associate vice provost for global learning and strategy. “On short notice, President Sullivan took leadership with our external constituents including legislators and professional associations. The faculty, provost, deans and other academic leaders in the Office of Academic Affairs, staff including the registrar and many school and department level staff, and the incredible team in the Office of International Students and Scholars, all pulled together for a common goal of meeting our students’ needs.”

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