We are “All for the Common Good.”
Those are the words that will serve as the crux of a new branding effort to describe the University of St. Thomas.
Unveiled at noon Tuesday in James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall in St. Paul and in Opus Hall in Minneapolis, the brand is an essential component of the strategic plan priority on Enhanced Visibility and Profile and has as its foundation the St. Thomas mission statement:
“Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.”
President Julie Sullivan led the Tuesday events, assisted by Tommie, the university’s mascot. A video was shown, singers from the Festival Choir premiered a new alma mater composed by Father Michael Joncas and the national champion St. Thomas Dance Team performed. Hundreds of participants donned new “Tommie for the Common Good” T-shirts and engaged in a social media extravaganza that spread the news across the world via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
“I am thrilled with how the new brand captures our spirit and the promise we make to the world to prepare students for a good life and a life of good,” Sullivan told the audience.
Sullivan said one of her favorite duties is to meet with alumni from around the world – a Tommie Network that exceeds 100,000 alumni in 98 countries and all 50 states. These alumni “are agents of change in their communities,” she said. “They have an entrepreneurial spirit that sees a problem, and they come up with solutions. So do our students. They are doers.”
In her “Up Front” column for the winter edition of St. Thomas magazine, which will arrive in mailboxes in mid-February, Sullivan said two things consistently amaze her during her encounters with St. Thomas alumni.
“First, they reflect a commitment, in whatever they do, to make things better,” she wrote. “Second, they frequently and consistently share how St. Thomas played an important role in transforming their lives and shaping who they are today, which inevitably is morally responsible leaders who advance the common good.”
Two students – Michael Gaytko, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, and Natacha Eguida, president of the Globally Minded Students Association – also spoke at the event.
Eguida said she is excited about the “boldness” of the new brand and the way it “challenges us to live up to this promise while we are here as students and after we graduate, as alumni.” Gaytko said it will be critical to live up to the promises inherent in “All for the Common Good.”
“How will we, as global citizens, embrace others with empathy and respect and make this world a better place?” he asked. “Through understanding of others and embracing our differences, we are called to be agents of change. What we do, we do for the common good.”
One of the larger snowstorms of the season was just getting started around noon Tuesday, but the weather didn’t seem to affect attendance at the event. A standing-room-only crowd of more than 1,000 students, staff and faculty attended the 25-minute program. It likely was the largest single crowd to assemble in Woulfe Alumni Hall since the opening of the Anderson Student Center in January 2012.
Defining the common good
Sullivan explained that a “common good education” is germane today, even in a society where employers emphasize the necessity of thorough training in a discipline, expertise in technology and strong communication skills. A common good education also is an essential piece of the university’s identity, first articulated by founder Archbishop John Ireland and then nurtured over 131 years by generations of leaders.
“A common good education seeks to cultivate respect, understanding and empathy for others,” she wrote, while also equipping students “to understand and appreciate the common good of society and to encourage a lifelong commitment to protect and enhance the common good at every opportunity.”
The St. Thomas brand statement clearly defines the common good:
“At the University of St. Thomas, we believe in hard work, human dignity and the transformative power of purple. We stand up for faith, hope and the power of individuals, working together, to achieve uncommon feats. And every day, we commit ourselves to being agents of change: to thinking critically, acting wisely and working skillfully, all for the common good.”
A brand strategy
The strategic plan task force has embraced the themes of “Think. Act. Work.” and the way they will guide the education that St. Thomas provides while also increasing public awareness, enhancing reputation, recruiting students and raising funds.
Sullivan established a 21-person task force representing all stakeholder groups, led by Kim Motes, senior vice president for institutional advancement, to guide a process and develop a brand strategy. St. Thomas retained two agencies: Barrie D’Rozario DiLorenzo of Minneapolis conducted market research and Mindpower of Atlanta conducted additional research and held focus groups with 500 people.
“All for the Common Good” emerged from the brand strategy discussions, and will be used in publications, on websites, in advertising and on electronic billboards throughout the Twin Cities area in describing undergraduate and graduate – as well as liberal arts and professional – programs.
The Woulfe Hall audience applauded images of the electronic billboards … and especially images of Metro light rail train cars decorated with “All for the Common Good” … that were shown on the hall’s large video screens.
The brand strategy, Sullivan wrote, is “powerful enough to unite us. The bold move that we are making is for ALL to come together as ONE. And what we agree on and feel within our hearts and what resonates in our minds, bodies and spirits is our mission.
“We are ‘All for the Common Good.’”