University of St. Thomas Magazine COVID-19 Special Edition

up front


The road ahead will be challenging on many fronts. Yet, over the past few months, I have been heartened by the resilience, creativity, compassion and flexibility of our students, staff and faculty. At the outset of the known threat of an unseen virus, this community pivoted at top speed. We ensured our students’ whole-person education continued as best we could despite stay-at-home orders and many other constraints. I hope you enjoy the stories included here of how we responded by caring for and supporting others. From making difficult decisions, such as returning students from our Rome campus and shifting an entire university online in a matter of days, to establishing student support funds and celebrating our graduates, our community truly rose to the challenges before it. I am particularly inspired by our Class of 2020, whose names serve to brighten the pages of this issue. They are ready to write the next chapter of humanity’s history, and I am certain will make this world a better place. I have never been more thankful to serve the people of the St. Thomas community. I have always believed in the passion of our faculty, the skills of our staff and the ambition of our students. Watching them in action over these past months has underlined my belief. Above anything else, our people and their commitments to one another and to serving in solidarity in advancing the common good give me hope for a better future and confidence that St. Thomas will play an important role in creating it. Thank you for your continued support and well wishes during these trying times. I continue to hold all Tommies – past, present and future – in my prayers. And I ask you for yours as we work together to lead St. Thomas in the days ahead. n

OUR MISSION HAS NEVER BEEN MORE ESSENTIAL I t now seems an understatement to call these the most-challenging times our communities, country and world have faced in a lifetime. When plans began for this issue of St. Thomas magazine, we wanted to tell you how we faced COVID-19 with determination, ingenuity, faith and care. As the magazine went to press, however, the Twin Cities reacted in shock, horror and disbelief as George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police. Many of our students, faculty and staff joined in the calls for justice for Mr. Floyd and countless other victims of police brutality, racism and violence. I hope we will forever remember this spring and summer as a pivotal time for our university and our nation. I pray that history will call this the time we began real transformation of our society toward dignity, justice and equity for all … when St. Thomas’ mission to serve the common good served as a critical guidepost. Recognizing the vital importance of our mission, we must find the strength (as our founder, Archbishop Ireland, said) to “ever press forward.” Thus, we currently are undertaking the enormous work of instituting new health and safety protocols and planning a gradual reopening of our campus over this summer and fall.

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