On stage during the formal ceremony to officially inaugurate him as St. Thomas’ 16th president, Rob Vischer’s phone kept buzzing in his pocket.
Was it official university business? A pressing matter to which to attend?
No – on the other line were some of Vischer’s childhood friends who were tuned into the livestream of the ceremony.
“They were very good at keeping me grounded,” he said afterward. “They were watching online and kept my phone buzzing with a steady stream of snarky comments about me throughout the ceremony.”
Even a university president isn’t immune to good-natured ribbing, and Vischer’s ability to stay grounded came through in several moments throughout the day as the university celebrated his inauguration.
The day included an inaugural Mass at a jam-packed Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas, a communitywide lunch on John P. Monahan Plaza outside Anderson Student Center, followed by the elaborate inauguration ceremony itself inside the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex’s field house.
Presiding over the Mass, Twin Cities Archbishop Bernard Hebda recalled during his homily a past article about St. Thomas’ School of Law during Vischer’s tenure as dean.
“You were quoted as saying, ‘At St. Thomas, the strongest thing we have going for us is that we know who we are.’ That gives me great hope as you begin your service as president,” Hebda told the Mass attendees.
And while the day was filled with notable names on campus – among them Hebda, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, former St. Thomas presidents Father Dennis Dease and Julie Sullivan – there was no doubt about who was the man of the hour.
“It’s awesome to see President Vischer around our campus, he definitely really cares about the students, and I really want to see that, as well, going forward,” said Angelica Franaschouk ’23, president of St. Thomas’ Undergraduate Student Government.
And for his part, Vischer kept students the focus of his inaugural address.
When speaking to St. Thomas’ faculty and staff, Vischer said: “Please don’t let our big plans obscure a simple truth: The most important person to St. Thomas’ future is the student standing right in front of you in the present. I am consistently inspired by your dedication to our students. And that dedication is the key to our future.”
When addressing the university’s many benefactors and Board of Trustees in attendance: “The most meaningful expression of our gratitude is our commitment to invest in our students with the same generosity that you’ve modeled so powerfully.”
And when speaking of how St. Thomas will aim to address the challenges facing higher education and society, Vischer offered: “Courage will empower us to do what is necessary to promote the lifelong flourishing of our students.”
After the ceremony, business-attire clad inauguration attendees mingled side by side with students celebrating the end of regular classes at the annual Tommie Fest celebration on the lower quad. Despite the occasional raindrop, all agreed the future of the university is bright.
“This is a joyful day, and it’s joyful because it’s good for everybody here on campus,” said Dr. Amy Smith, interim dean of St. Thomas’ School of Education.
In Robert K. Vischer’s address during his May 12 inauguration as the 16th president of the University of St. Thomas, he thanked several people for attending. And several made remarks in person or by video congratulating him. Some of the ones the former dean of the School of Law acknowledged included Sen. Amy Klobuchar, St.…