University of St. Thomas Magazine COVID-19 Special Edition

students who are expressing that this is a really difficult time for them, we’re able to flag that and respond.” Pancoast said her experiences since the pandemic have made her realize she’s resilient and adaptable. “I’m applying to jobs right now and potential employers are asking things like, ‘How are you handling this?’ or ‘Tell us about a time you were adaptable?’” Pancoast explained. “I have plenty of examples to share.”

“The Friday before Easter we made sure they had plenty of food for the weekend,” Littlejohn said. “I stayed late, made sure there was extra so they could take all this food back to the residence halls.We try to take care of them the best we can and keep their spirits up. It’s difficult for all of us out here, but it really has to be tough for them not being able to see their family.” While Littlejohn has adjusted to his current role, he’s looking forward to the time when everyone is back on campus and dining at The View. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of students by first name, and I’ve even met some of their families,” he said. “That’s probably been the hardest part for me as far as social activity. The students and the football coaches, the basketball coaches – we have great relationships with those folks. I really miss those conversations.” STEPPING UPWITH PUBLIC SAFETY For Public Safety officer Tyler Vogel, patrols around campus feel a lot different than they have any past semester. “It’s peaceful with sunsets, sunrises, very little traffic,” he said. “It’s kind of like we’re forced to have this quiet campus environment when no one wants it to be.” Despite the tranquility of their surroundings, work for Public Safety officers has increased, he said, as fewer people on campus means more grounds for officers to patrol. “A good chunk of our job is proactive, out patrolling, but most of our job during the school year is reactive,” he said. “Without those eyes and ears of community members everywhere, we’re really ramping up our game that much more to keep it covered.” That ramping up is part of the overall transition Public Safety has made as it went from helping 2,800 students andmore than 1,000 employees across St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses, to just a couple hundred. There are far fewer service calls for things such as lockouts, escorts and vehicle jump-starts, saidMike Barrett, associate director of Public Safety. For Barrett and several other Public Safety employees, part of the transition has been to work from home, where technology allows them to stay connected via radio and video to coordinate with on-campus officers. Barrett said his process to manage investigations from home has stayed consistent.


Among his many duties as associate vice president of Auxiliary Services, Mitch Karstens oversees Dining Services.When the switch to online learning occurred and a majority of students moved out of the residence halls, Dining Services went from serving 10,000 meals a day to 150. Dining locations across the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses were shuttered. Excess food was given away to the St. Thomas community. “Usually about two weeks before the end of the semester, we stop purchasing and slowly work down our inventory so that we don’t waste a lot,” Karstens said. “We hit a cliff this time.We were able to gather everything that was perishable, and we opened that up to the campus community.We gave away about 100 gallons of milk that were in our coffee shops, 250 loaves of bread we would’ve used at dining facilities and a whole host of fresh veggies and fruits.We froze whatever we could.” Because students remaining in the residence halls and at The St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity still need to eat, a central operation set up at T’s where a rotating staff of 15 employees made and prepackaged breakfast, lunch and dinner to go. “We’re trying to use exactly what we have instead of buying more products right now,” Karstens said. “The chefs are getting super creative in the kitchen andmaking some very good food. It’s not our normal menu.” “Our dining staff is always putting our students first and thinking about how not getting a meal would affect our students,” Karstens continued. “That was their biggest concern. It’s things like this that remind me how big of a heart they have and how hard they work.” One of those dedicated employees is Anthony Littlejohn, a manager at The View restaurant on campus who has switched to those duties at T’s. He said the international students living on campus have become like a “second family” to him and the staff.

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