Dear St. Thomas students,
Welcome to the new academic year! On the heels of enthusiastic Welcome Days for our first-year students, it brings me great joy to welcome all of our students back to campus! Our law students are a little ahead of us, having started classes last week, and the rest of our classes begin this week.
This year at St. Thomas we are welcoming 1,397 new first-year, bachelor’s degree students, 242 new transfer students, 107 new Dougherty Family College students, 200 new law students and we are still counting our new students in our other graduate programs. We also offer a hearty welcome to our 155 new international students (undergraduate and graduate).
As we enter the new year, we have many exciting new initiatives and projects going on. These include the official launch of the Dougherty Family College, the introduction of a civil engineering degree, and the formation of the Center for Student Achievement. We’ve also added online graduate programs and new living learning communities, launched the Center for the Common Good, reimagined the Anderson Student Center Creative Space and soon will be opening a Veteran’s Resource Center.
Of course, we cannot enter the new year without acknowledging the historic times in which we live and our country’s challenges and uncertainties. Just in the last month, our nation experienced violent acts of racism, a nuclear threat, a hurricane natural disaster and uncertainty about the legal status of our DACA population. In such times, we are called to draw upon and strengthen the values of our university.
It matters that we are a Catholic university. As a Catholic university, St. Thomas is committed to promoting and respecting the dignity of all human persons. In so doing, we must relentlessly strive to be a community of inclusion, compassion and accompaniment. There is no place here for bigotry or hate. We stand against these sins.
We also stand up for the vulnerable, and today we stand with our DACA students. We will advocate for a permanent fix to this pressing problem and will ensure our current DACA students’ financial aid to attend St. Thomas is not diminished.
There is no doubt that our Catholic university’s responsibility and contribution to society is more important now than ever. As we start this new academic year, I invite you to be engaged in the world, explore learning beyond the classroom, communicate with those who challenge ideas and learn from one other with empathy and respect.
Julie H. Sullivan, Ph.D.