An aerial view of the Anderson Student Center, John P. Monahan Plaza, and the fountain.

Tommie Traditions - Employee Recognition Event Brings Celebration, Reflection

On Thursday, April 19, the St. Thomas community will gather to celebrate its employees and highlight the incredible things they have accomplished for the university in their time here.

Employees ranging from five years of service to 40 will be recognized, with 19 celebrating 30 years or more in their time as Tommie employees. We asked several of the longest-tenured Tommies a few questions about their time at St. Thomas.

What is your favorite University of St. Thomas memory?

Father Jan Michael Joncas, university artist-in-residence and fellow in the Center for Catholic Studies, celebrating 30 years: My favorite St. Thomas memory is the kindness with which I was treated during my bout with Guillain-Barré syndrome back in 2003-2004. I arrived back to my house after a three-month sojourn at Mayo Clinic to find that the house the University had provided for my lodging had had a ramp built from my parking area to my back door and railings installed to help me get from floor to floor. I was immediately struck by how thoughtful the administrators and physical plant members were to prepare my house for however long I would be living with a wheelchair.

What is your proudest accomplishment while at the University of St. Thomas?

Jack Militello, professor of management in the Opus College for Business, celebrating 35 years: In 2004 I was asked by the dean of the Opus College of Business to take over the Health Care MBA and close it down in six months.  Twelve new students were enrolled that year.  I failed in my assignment.  The year I left the position (2015), 62 students were enrolled.  This included the special cohort from UnitedHealth Group which I, along with Dean Puto, Alice Nulsen, and Cindy Lorah, developed, sold and nurtured with UnitedHealth Group. A fourth cohort has now been enrolled.

Dan Hoffmann, electrical foreman, celebrating 30 years: While I have been working here, I have been involved with over 30 building projects. At least 14 of these were major building remodels or additions, and more than 15 projects involved entire new campus buildings after older buildings or structures were demolished. Probably the largest and most complex new building project that I took part in was the Anderson Student Center. That project required a lot of time and daily involvement while trying to make certain that all aspects of the electrical design and construction would help to create an exceptional building one to be proud of for a long time into St. Thomas' future.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in your time here?

Joseph Kreitzer, Ph.D., dean of College of Education, Leadership and Counseling, celebrating 35 years: I think it is the power of community and of conviction. When I compare my experience here with those of my friends at other institutions and my own experience elsewhere, I think the St. Thomas community has always held tightly in an uncommon way to a shared appreciation of our mission that both focused our collective actions on helping students acquire knowledge, and on a collective commitment to carry out the mission for the good of the broader community.

Kevin Sauter, Communication and Journalism, celebrating 35 years: Perhaps the most important lesson is about academic entrepreneurship. St. Thomas has always been wonderful in allowing me to engage in new initiatives as long as I have the energy to lead it and the money to fund it. We developed "Campus Scope," the St. Thomas video program; started a film minor; and worked to merge the Communication and the Journalism departments – all great initiatives that came about because of persistence, vision and institutional support.

What is your favorite University of St. Thomas memory?

Joseph Plante ’86, associate vice president of principal and leadership gifts, celebrating 30 years: The closing celebration of our Opening Doors capital campaign in October 2012, as the big meter clicked over and revealed $515 million, and the combined choirs singing a song of thanks. Hearts and tears welled up with gratitude; the impact and joy of giving was so evident.