University of St. Thomas Magazine COVID-19 Special Edition


WE’RE INTHIS TOGETHER Separated by space, but together at heart, the university withstands a global pandemic.

INSIDE: LOVE PREVAILS COVID-19 couldn't stop this Tommie couple. P. 26

'A SECOND FAMILY' Staff members provide necessities and comfort to students still on campus. P. 34


Rallying Behind Our Students The university supports undergraduates with physical, mental and financial challenges due to COVID-19. 12

You Are Not Alone Masses have been streaming daily. 24

When (Not) in Rome St. Thomas was the first program in Rome to close its operations. 8


Zooming into Online Learning With little notice, faculty transferred their classrooms to online learning.

What COVID-19 Reveals About Health Care Q & A with College of Health Dean MayKao Hang 20



COVID-19 Jeopardizes Teaching Licensure Thanks to their dean, they can teach under a conditional license.

Tommie Network Alumni step up during the pandemic. 40

Meet the Class of 2020 46


Love Prevails COVID-19 couldn't stop this Tommie couple. 26

'A Second Family' Staff members provide necessities

and comfort to students still on campus.


editor's note

Community and Resilience During COVID-19

Archbishop John Ireland, founder of St. Thomas, was known for his energy, optimism and warmth. He didn't back down from the many challenging problems he faced. Which is why he is the perfect image for the cover of this issue. Today we’re facing a new challenge: a global pandemic that has changed the way the world operates. At St. Thomas, resident students moved off campus, classes migrated to online and the campus emptied of all but essential employees and a few students. St. Thomas is a community that was split apart physically but not spiritually. To reflect on this historic time, we decided to forgo our originally-planned spring issue of the St. Thomas magazine and produce a special edition that focuses on the pandemic and how it has influenced our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

We want to celebrate how people rallied, how they stepped up, how they reached out, how they continued to support one another.

In the last several months, our lives have been changed significantly. As our magazine was going to press, events were unfolding related to the killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers. Protests about racial injustices occurred in the Twin Cities, across Minnesota and around the world. These are both rapidly evolving situations, and we don’t know what the future holds, but the St. Thomas mission will continue to guide the university’s response to fight against racism and protect the community during the pandemic. And, as followers in Archbishop Ireland’s legacy, we will work to make “the present better than the past and the future to be better than the present.” Here’s our university’s story.

Patty Petersen Editor

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.


Late January — Center forWell-Being, andGlobal Learning and Strategy beginmonitoring COVID-19 and discussing impact on students studying abroad.

Feb. 3 — University Action and Response Team (UART) begins meeting regularly.

Feb. 28 — University announces Rome campus closure.

March 2 — Community communication sent with guidance related to COVID-19 and travel.

March 4 — UART establishes work groups: steering committee, international/study abroad continuity, academic continuity, workforce continuity, campus events/mass gatherings, residence hall and facility closures. March 12 — President Julie Sullivan and Provost Richard Plumb, in consultation with UART and academic deans, decide tomove classes online until April 14 and restrict university travel.

March 13 — MIAC announces cancellation of competition.

March 16 — President Sullivan announces continuation of online classes for the rest of semester.

March 18 — Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Lange announces that the university will prorate residence hall andmeal plan refunds.

March 20 — First confirmed COVID-19 case in St. Thomas community and notification sent.

March 23 — President Sullivan updates students, faculty and staff regarding on-campus essential employees andwork-from-home policy.

March 25 — Gov. TimWalz issues stay-at-home order for Minnesota.

March 30 — University rolls out Student Emergency Assistance Program for COVID-19-related financial hardship. April — President Sullivan announces St. Thomas will not hold commencement ceremonies as scheduled inMay.

April 2 — Provost Plumb announces that summer courses will move online.



Here's an oral history of the decisions to close the Rome campus. Friday, Feb. 21 (21 total cases, one death in Italy) U.S. Embassy Rome issues a health alert, which is received by all students. KAREN LANGE, EDD, vice president, student affairs; co-chair, University Action and Response Team (UART): We [UART] were watching COVID-19 closely and saw how it was moving down the coast, even though it hadn’t hit Rome yet.When our teammet, we had lots of different opinions about what we should do. TIMOTHY LEWIS, PHD, senior international officer and associate vice provost for global learning and strategy: It’s a lot like first seeing a storm on the radar – you know it’s coming, then you start to see the dark clouds and you know that you have to deal with the rain that’s coming. …How do you do it? MICHAEL NAUGHTON, PHD, director, Center for Catholic Studies: I was the faculty adviser in Rome with the students; I got over there the same day that they did [Feb.9]. Thanos Zyngas

[Bernardi Campus director, pictured above] and I participated in the UART meetings by phone. You’re basically in a situation where it’s uncharted waters. Every road had not one ditch but two ditches – are we overreacting or not reacting enough? Sunday, Feb. 23 (157 total cases, three total deaths) Zyngas and Naughton meet with students to bring them up to date on the situation. NAUGHTON: The students were terribly disappointed, because they were having this powerful experience. …This community was forming, and they didn’t want to leave it. And they’re in Rome having gelato and pasta and vino; they’re walking by the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican. Monday, Feb. 24 (229 total cases, seven total deaths) Bernardi Campus leaders tell students to avoid crowded areas. Trips to Venice and Assisi are canceled. UART discusses the possibility of bringing students home.

LEWIS: It was in the nick of time.We saw the storm coming. The question was: When do you come inside out of the rain?We called it right …then the rain started very quickly. Friday, March 6 (4,636 total cases, 197 total deaths) The Bernardi Campus officially closes. DERRICK DIEDRICH ’21: I t was hard being asked to return, but Dr. Naughton and Thanos were great. They were transparent and treated us like adults, which we really appreciated.We would talk to other students we met and they seemed to be really in the dark about the whole situation or asked to leave with a notice of a day or two. …We had an awesome group, though, and kept a good attitude. Dr. Naughton was our rock through it all and a great father- like figure. Monday, March 9 (9,172 total cases, 463 total deaths) Italy extends lockdown nationwide. DANMEUWISSEN, director, Public Safety; UART co-chair: We can look back now and see what we did and how we stayed ahead of the national response, but at the time it was going on, there was a lot of hard work and important decisions being made. Tuesday, March 24 (69,176 total cases, 6,820 total deaths) ZYNGAS (who stayed at the Bernardi Campus where he lives): Who would have predicted a few weeks later [after the last group left] we would reach 60,000 cases? The last three weeks have been life-changing for me. n

HEATHER LECLAIR ’21: I cannot imagine this experience with any other community. The Body of Christ is a refuge in times of trial.We had chaplains who called us to prayer, teachers who reassured us through guidance and classmates who brought us joy through laughter. Tuesday, Feb. 25 (323 total cases, 11 total deaths) UART outlines steps to increase food supplies to the Bernardi Campus and communicates with students about transportation, anxieties, underlying health issues, and advising on risks for personal travel. JULIA LINDELL ’22: My favorite quote from Pope Benedict XVI is, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” …This is a lesson that I really have come to understand during the past few weeks. … It has been a difficult time and there is much sadness about what could have been, but I am surprised every day by the hope that fills me and my friends. Wednesday, Feb. 26 (470 total cases, 12 total deaths) President Julie Sullivan and Executive Vice President and Provost Richard Plumb make the decision to close the Bernardi Campus and bring the students home. LANGE: I went to Julie and Richard and said, ‘Here’s what we’re thinking, here are the pros and cons.We’re split down the middle.’ …We gave them our thought process, and then they ultimately made the decision. … It wasn’t really that bad in Rome yet. We were the first one to make that decision, and other schools quickly followed us. THANOS ZYNGAS, Bernardi Campus director: I knew this would not slow down. … I was getting information from the U.S. Embassy

here in Rome of the restrictions that gradually were going into effect. … We took very aggressive measures to protect the students. Friday, Feb. 28 (889 total cases, 21 total deaths) Lange, Zyngas and Father Michael Becker, rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary, inform students that the remainder of the St. John Vianney-Catholic Studies Rome Semester will be canceled, and the Bernardi Campus will be closed. Students are advised to return by March 6. NAUGHTON: The university gave us several days to [leave the Bernardi Campus]. …We went to the Pantheon for Mass, we hadMass at the Crypt, had a last Italian dinner at a great restaurant, and just enjoyed ourselves together to not make it such a tragic ending.We made it a certain kind of celebration.We only had three weeks in Rome, but it was a glorious three weeks. Saturday, Feb. 29 (1,128 total cases, 29 total deaths) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Italy, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy. LANGE: Once Rome went to a Level 3, I remember thinking, ‘Thank goodness we made the right decision.’ Wednesday, March 4 (3,089 total cases, 107 total deaths) The last group leaves the Bernardi Campus. The Italian government orders the closure of all schools and universities nationwide. LANGE: We were so relieved when they all got back. Once the pandemic hit Rome, things moved so quickly.



Rachel Harris becomes emotional when recalling the launch of the Student Emergency Financial Assistance Program for COVID-19-related financial hardships. Less than 24 hours after it was posted online at the end of March, more than 100 students had applied for the $750 tax-free grant meant to be used for unexpected non-tuition expenses including rent, medical bills, utilities and food. As of the beginning of May, 407 grants totaling more than $260,000 had been awarded. The stories they told about their needs were heartbreaking. “We asked them to tell us about their situation,” said Harris, director of finance and planning for Student Affairs. “The diversity of the stories they were telling us, the hardships they had and how every story was different than the one we had just read – it was overwhelming. There was this theme of ‘I really need this because I’m at home and I have this responsibility to participate in the taking care of my family. I have to make sure we’re all safe and healthy.’” While the university has had a general student emergency fund for years, this COVID-19-specific one comprises funding from donors and the Undergraduate Student Government, which contributed funds originally marked for events that were canceled. The university also received $2.5 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to aid students suffering hardships because of the virus. Along with funding, the pandemic quickly altered the way many things were done on campus. It also changed what students needed from professors, administrators and staff. While academically, the race was on to move classes online (see Page 16), students also were asking for extra support. From supplying laptops and helping find WiFi hotspots, to prioritizing scholarship fundraising and finding ways to celebrate seniors, the St. Thomas community came together to rally around the university’s No. 1 priority – its students.


geology major and employee at the Phone Center, was one of many students thankful for the continued paycheck. She said the job meant “everything” to her and she wouldn’t have been able to attend school without it. “I reached out to thank President Sullivan and she emailed me back fairly quickly,” Stensrud said. “She said, ‘you’re welcome’ and that she hoped everything was going well. It feels like she really cares about every single one of her students. That she was right there for us.”

including yoga for anxiety, meditation training and violence prevention. “The Center for Well-Being staff are able to provide the same level of care and education as we had previously, as well as respond to the many questions and concerns about COVID-19,” McDermott said. “Sometimes the students' questions are about their own health and other times it is related to a friend or relative. One of the challenges for students is finding quiet places to have private conversations with a provider.We have been able to continue to provide care for urgent issues that keep students out of emergency rooms or other urgent-care facilities that are not able to separate ill fromwell patients as easily as we can.”

Casey Gordon, program manager for the St. Thomas Center for Common Good, hands out masks to students and community members, as part of the center’s food distribution with Keystone Community Services and Tommie Shelf.


Staff from the Haggerty Family Foundation Facility for the Center for Well-Being, together with Global Learning and Strategy, began monitoring the coronavirus in late January and discussing the impact on students studying abroad. The University Action and Response Team (UART) – a group of university administrators representing key departments – started meeting daily soon thereafter about COVID- 19-related issues and began communicating with the St. Thomas community. On Feb. 26, President Julie Sullivan made the decision to close the Rome campus following UART’s recommendation (see Page 8). As COVID-19 communications ramped up, March brought a flurry of announcements, including moving classes online, resident students moving out of on-campus housing (with some exceptions) and the implications for the university of a stay-at-home order fromMinnesota Gov. TimWalz. Students received residence hall and meal plan prorated refunds. Student workers, some of whom thought they were suddenly out of a job, were paid through the end of the semester. Sophomore Olivia Stensrud, a


In early February, Center for Well- Being Executive Director Madonna McDermott said staff adjusted rapidly to the demands the pandemic placed on students. They provided education and care by switching to tele-mental health for both individual and group therapy, and telehealth for many of the students. “Health Services continues to see students, faculty and staff in person frequently following a telehealth assessment,” McDermott said. “This includes assessing and testing for COVID-19 and working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health.” The center added after-hours crisis and urgent mental health care services; Health Promotion and Violence Prevention reached out to students with a variety of offerings

Volunteers from around campus assemble commencement boxes sent to graduating students.

The Division of Student Affairs recognized right away how important it was to engage with students virtually and highlighted a variety of chances to connect including creative activity kits, diversity and inclusion activities, Center for Well-Being offerings and Center for the Common Good volunteer opportunities. They helped students obtain laptops and findWiFi hotspots when classes moved online and sent a virtual care package to all undergraduates.


unemployment numbers started to climb – some students and their families were going to be challenged financially. “Our goal always at St. Thomas is to graduate each and every enrolled student, and we didn’t want students’ inability to pay for rent, utilities, food, medical expenses, tuition or other expenses related to their educational experience to be a barrier to that end,” Thurman said. The university currently has three COVID-19-related fundraising priorities to directly support students and the student experience during the pandemic: Hardship Scholarships, the Student Emergency Fund and the Student Excellence Fund. Thurman notes scholarships are always the No. 1 priority at St. Thomas. (See Page 33). Along with helping students be successful in school, Thurman said they’ve doubled down efforts to help the Class of 2020 secure jobs and internships. One way of making these connections is through the university’s online networking platform, St. Thomas Connect. “The university’s Career Development Center surveyed graduating seniors to understand the circumstances of students’ employment plans after graduation, and we’re engaging our alumni to help fill any gaps however we can,” Thurman said. “Our Tommie Network of over 110,000 St. Thomas alumni is already a powerful force helping students make connections to jobs and careers, and we plan to leverage this even more knowing the pandemic has turned the economy and jobmarket upside down in ways that are completely unprecedented. Tommies help Tommies, and we want tomake it easy for our alumni tomake meaningful connections.”

“The commitment to students is so strong at St. Thomas,” said Linda Baughman, dean of students. “Everyone changed the way they worked within about 48 hours. It has really emphasized or brought to light what a strong community we have at St. Thomas. You know, I’ve seen everybody across the board rally. And it makes you proud that you work at the university.” The division also led the charge of reaching out to students to see how they were doing by calling all first- year students and transfer students and sending individual texts to sophomores, juniors and seniors. “The text said we miss seeing our students on campus and this is just a quick check-in as to how you’re doing. There are many resources available – let me know any questions and have a great day,” said sophomore elementary education major Emma Monson about the message she received. “It was really nice that it came personally to me. My professors will reach out because they know me, but this person from St. Thomas reaching out who doesn’t knowme – that was cool.”

One of the big challenges was figuring out how to celebrate the seniors in a meaningful way. The university sent a “Cap and Gown Celebration Box” to each senior and Student Affairs collaborated with other organizations for a weeklong Senior Days celebration featuring a host of activities including a virtual graduation cap design session, a toast to the senior class, a celebratory video and a special Zoom edition of March Through the Arches. “We met with several student leaders to figure out what we could do to still help celebrate graduation,” said Karen Lange, vice president for Student Affairs. “This is such a milestone in their lives,” she continued. “It’s so important to be able to celebrate that and to acknowledge all of their hard work.” While the St. Thomas community continues to rally around its students during the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is looking forward to a time when it’s safe to be together again. Baughman, for one, is looking forward to getting back on campus and engaging with students in person once again. “I hope I never take for granted again what it means to be in community on campus with students, faculty and staff and what a gift it is to be on campus together, working and learning,” Baughman said. n


As things began to quickly unfold in mid-March, Vice President of University Advancement Erik Thurman said it was clear – especially when



Dr. Mary Slack’s organizational leadership course always ends with a simulation final, with student-created businesses competing against one another for customers and market share. When COVID-19 forced the capstone class online, Slack’s students co-created not just their businesses, but how to make the entire final simulation virtual. The result: Tommie Town, which used tools like the Remind app, Zoom and VoiceThread to replicate the dynamic learning process of running their businesses in the real world. “Students really love that experience, and I think it’s even better now because of that co-creation aspect of how we developed everything together,” said Slack, Opus College of Business clinical faculty member. Her course was part of a massive movement: Since March 12, more than 900 St. Thomas faculty members taught more than 2,000 courses to more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. This summer another 450 courses will be taught. It may appear as if the move to online learning took place in a matter of days, which – in a literal sense – it did. The reality,


“That we could go to online classes with so short notice is amazing,” said Katherine Acton, an engineering professor who has used STELAR’s lightboard technology for years.

Photo by M ARK BROWN

though, is that a foundation laid as far back as 2016 proved critical in a rapid, high-quality transition. It allowed St. Thomas’ signature academic excellence and personal attention to take center stage in ways that will shape the university’s future. “It has been remarkable to see the community come together to ensure a high-quality educational experience continued despite the challenges,” theology Professor Kimberly Vrudny said. “I’ve never been prouder to be associated with St. Thomas.” Forward thinking pays off On March 2, members of the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) team looked at a whiteboard full of projects they were managing as more and more courses were migrating online. The team knew they could handle what would be needed in the coming weeks because St. Thomas already had evolved its online education capabilities. “There was a huge sense of, ‘Thank God we’ve been preparing for this for the last number of years,’” said Karin Brown, a STELAR instructional designer who helps faculty develop their online curriculum and pedagogy. With support from STELAR, which launched in 2016, the university has had a huge growth of online, hybrid and HyFlex education, including more than 1,000% growth in online summer courses, according to Ed Clark, CIO and vice president for innovation and technology services. Last fall Clark spoke about the St. Thomas community expanding and improving its online education. He said St. Thomas faculty embraced the effort. “It’s been this guiding light of, ‘Let’s be really good in this space and keep what’s special about St. Thomas even in online classes,’” he said. St. Thomas has made investments in technology infrastructure to support that development, from a top-level learning management system, Canvas, to web conferencing, to video and audio streaming and recording. Even more importantly, the university invested in STELAR staff and faculty training that has expanded every year. More than 150 faculty members have completed its online teaching certification courses. STELAR and Information Technology Services staff members developed an Instructional Continuity site for faculty in Canvas that – coupled with drop-in Zoom support sessions and faculty well-versed in online

teaching supporting their colleagues – meant ample support for quickly moving things online. A forum for students, Tommie Tech Online, also scaled up from supporting just new incoming students to more than 7,000 students by mid-April. Truly St. Thomas Core to the complete migration was the desire to maintain the high-quality academic experience and personal attention for St. Thomas students. “There’s a feeling of, ‘How can we make this work for the students so they’re getting the content in a way they can learn it and stay engaged with us?’ That’s St. Thomas,” Slack said. “That’s why I teach here and not other places. The student focus is so important.” School of Engineering Professor Kundan Nepal cited his course, Engineering 410, Control Systems, as a prime example of how faculty and students have worked together. “We created analytical labs with the equipment students know how to use. Faculty recorded sessions of themselves using the equipment as if the students were right there. …The students then have taken that data and used it to do an analysis at home, so they’re not losing any of the learning objectives.” In many ways, said School of Education Professor Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan – whose special education program has won several awards for online teaching – being online can improve academic quality as elements such as universal design can be built in to help students of all learning styles get what they need. Options such as hybrid and HyFlex courses – which offer options for students to attend class in person, Zoom in synchronously, or view recorded lectures – have grown at St. Thomas in recent years and will be key to shaping what the university offers students going forward. Giving students personal attention Along with meeting academic expectations, maintaining personal attention has been a guiding light for the entire university. The Center for Student Achievement has helped faculty ratchet up proactive contact with students and advisees, made virtual office hours more available and, in general, done all they can to make sure they are maintaining crucial touchpoints with students throughout a challenging time. “Our professors and administrators care about the health and well-being of the students, and that’s clearly

their priority,” a first-year shared in a March video of undergraduate students sharing their experiences shifting online. “Professors and staff members are here for us and willing to support the students.” “My professors have been so understanding and so nice and accommodating to help us through this transition,” a sophomore student added. “That’s a blessing, to me, to know they have my backs through this.”

to communicate, proactively reaching out, and increasing flexibility with universal design for learning. “There is real intentionality with the Faculty Development Center and STELAR to have an eye toward equity,” said psychology Professor and DEI Fellow Bryana French, who pointed toward the loaning of technology to students and the option of pass-fail grading as signals of equitable thinking. “We’re on the right track and doing good things.” Certainty amid uncertainty

Another element of the shift online has been for faculty to maintain the university’s convictions of equity and inclusion; seminars and trainings for faculty have been well attended throughout the spring. “We knew right away we needed to make sure that focus didn’t get lost,” said Ann Johnson, associate vice provost for faculty advancement, who has helped develop and will lead extensive DEI training throughout the summer. “Diversity, equity

As so much of life at St. Thomas and around the world continues to be uncertain, the past months have shown a confirmation of the university’s mission and academic values. Dougherty Family College Dean Alvin Abraham expressed well what many in the St. Thomas community have seen. “Every single person on our team, students included, have really rallied and tried to figure out how best to navigate their personal lives and show up fully

and inclusion is integral to

everything we do in terms of teaching; we’re not going to lose touch with that. Diversity is one of our convictions and we will maintain it through this [shift to online learning].” One such seminar on April 16 focused on helping faculty create effective and inclusive online communities. Tips included being transparent about building a community, using multiple channels

to do everything they can to do their job well,” he said. “It’s so telling of our team and students. They’re committed to their education, and our team is committed to providing a high-quality experience for students, even with all this going on. The future in a variety of ways is unknown, but there’s a lot of hope. We’ve all risen to the challenge in fantastic ways.” n

Dr. MayKao Hang, vice president and founding dean



Q & A WITH COLLEGE OF HEALTH DEAN MAYKAO HANG COVID-19 has put the health care system in the spotlight. Dr. MayKao Hang, vice president and founding dean of the Morrison Family College of Health, has been following the pandemic closely as she brings her vision for the college to life. The college is focused on the wellness of the whole person (social, mental, physical and spiritual) and educating health care practitioners who possess technical skills and cultural competencies. It includes the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, the School of Social Work, Health and Exercise Science and will also house a new School of Nursing. Hang, who joined St. Thomas in November, said the pandemic has brought to light the weaknesses and strengths in our health delivery systems, proving it’s an opportune time to reevaluate how we think about health care in general. This story has been edited for length. You can see the entire article at WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ADDRESS THE WHOLE PERSON? When [people] get sick, they usually go to a medical facility. But what promotes good health and keeps people healthy depends on the social supports people have spiritually, physically and mentally. Their social emotional health. We're seeing this now with how COVID-19 is impacting people. You can be physically fine but mentally distressed. It’s important to think about the conditions in which people are living, healing, learning and working. HOW DOES A PERSON'S PLACE IN SOCIETY AFFECT THE HEALTH CARE THEY RECEIVED ? What COVID-19 has highlighted is vulnerable populations, low-income populations, populations where there are health deserts – those communities where the delivery of testing isn't adequate, resource access isn't adequate. For example, the reality is there is still a racial and socioeconomic bias in who gets tested and who doesn't. You’re seeing health disparities with the elderly, African American populations, populations in the United States for whom it might not be safe to go get a test. HAS THIS PANDEMIC CHANGED OR ENHANCED ANY OF YOUR BELIEFS ON EDUCATING HEALTH PROVIDERS AND FUTURE LEADERS? The biggest insight during this time is how, as human beings, we resist change too much and how fast we can change. Look what COVID-19 did to that? Everybody has had to move to remote learning. When I first started at St. Thomas, the chair of the Graduate School of Psychology and I talked about if we could ever go to clinical supervision remotely. Well, guess what? We did it and it took less than a week. We can change faster than we think we can. That's a big lesson, which has given me a lot to think about in terms of what are the self-imposed barriers that we in academia have placed on the learning process? The Morrison Family College of Health is brand new, so we can design this with the future in mind because we're not living with any legacies, which is a wonderful place to be. That means being far more globally, ethically and technology oriented.


Editor's note: Due to cultural sensitivity concerns and accuracy considerations, original references to the Spanish flu have been removed from the online version of this story.

1918 FLU PANDEMIC Social distancing is not a new phenomenon at St. Thomas. Self-isolation was prescribed to Tommies in 1918, during the flu epidemic. The first diagnosed case in Minnesota appeared in late September of that year. “Classes already had started for the college and high school students enrolled at St. Thomas,” wrote Ann Kenne, head of special collections and archivist at St. Thomas. “A unit of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) – a contingent of soldiers preparing to fight inWorldWar I – also was posted on campus.” The university did not close entirely, and students remaining on campus were asked to isolate themselves. Those who contracted the flu were cared for in the college infirmary. “While no records exist to tell us howmany of the approximately 1,200 students contracted the flu, we know at least three students and one member of the SATC died from it. The following year the flu reappeared and claimed the life of one seminarian,” Kenne said. WORLDWAR II: 1942 In an April 1942 message to alumni, the College of St. Thomas Alumni Association secretary, John Madigan ’22, wrote, “Higher education in America must lead, not follow.” He was referring to the role that alumni played in America’s fight duringWorldWar II. “St. Thomas men, everywhere, are joining the armed forces; are buying defense bonds; and are contributing time and energy necessary to keep the world safe for democracy. As a college-trainedman, you should do more than your share. Prove to America and the world that our higher educational system is the best on earth,” he wrote. St. Thomas knew it could play a critical role by bringing more leaders to the front lines of industries. The college introduced summer sessions, which enabled students to complete four-year degrees in three years, creating faster pathways for students to careers in medicine, dentistry and engineering. SEPT. 11, 2001 St. Thomas alumnus Anthony Kuczynski ’98, a first lieutenant in the Air Force, was flying toward Pittsburgh alongside two F-16 fighter jets on Sept. 11. “I was given direct orders to shoot down an airliner,” he said later. Just as he and his crew were about to intercept United Airlines Flight 93, passengers rushed the terrorists and the airliner crashed in a field. The U.S. was under attack. Students’ reaction was to be together and pray. More than 400 students, faculty and staff members attended a candlelight peace vigil. Two days later, at the opening Mass, the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas was so full that students were standing outside on the steps. In the months that followed, the St. Thomas community took action to bring forth love, insight and ideas, as it forged a way forward. Many alumni enlisted or were called or recalled to active duty. And Julie Hanson, a staff member in the Business Office, created a memorial quilt that ultimately featured 19,000 blocks from contributors all over the world.


A reflection by Father Larry Snyder, vice president, Office for Mission ALONE YOU ARE NOT

Photo by M ARK BROWN

Father Lawrence Blake, chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, conducts an online virtual Mass from Florance Chapel in the basement of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. Campus Ministry began streaming daily and Sunday Masses live on Facebook to comply with a directive from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis about social distancing.

As we work our way through this current health crisis, we are receiving good advice and encouragement about keeping ourselves healthy. Doing that and keeping a positive attitude will certainly help us get through this. But even if we do all of that, there is still a sense of loss that we cannot escape. So much in our world and our lives has changed. And we aren’t certain how long this will last. There is a real loss of the physical presence of our community. How do we cope with this? Zoom and Skype certainly give us virtual options with which to connect. But, just as

important as the attention we pay to our physical health, we need to be solicitous for our spiritual health, as well. Making time every day to center ourselves, to pray, to invite God into our lives can give us the strength that we need to keep a perspective as we try to make sense of all of this. We want you to know that you are not alone. Please know that our prayers are with you each and every day. We look forward to the time when we are able to be a “physical” community once again. Peace to you.

Lo P R E V A I L S Anthony (Tony) Eicher ’12 and Annie Dupslaff ’10 planned to share one of the happiest days of their lives with 160 friends and family on Saturday, March 21. The day would be filled with joy and cheer as they were wed at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on campus. The couple, who were engaged last fall, had spent hours making sure all the details were just right. They even decided to schedule the ceremony and reception in March to beat the spring wedding rush. On March 16, the couple decided to cancel their original plans, but not the wedding. Instead, with some fast-acting help from St. Thomas’ sacramental coordinator Christina Crow from Campus Ministry, they moved their nuptials up to Tuesday, March 17, at the chapel with only Annie’s parents present as witnesses. (Tony’s parents were unable to travel for the event.) By AMY CARLSON GUSTAFSON Photos by MARK BROWN

“I always dreamed of marrying a very good man, not the party necessarily,” Annie said. “Being able to be that bride for a really special man – I was able to do that. “The actual marriage part made me nervous,” she explained. “The party and the celebration can be postponed, that’s not terrible. I wanted to start my life with Tony, and I didn’t want to wait.”

Then social distancing was advised amidst the rise of the coronavirus. They realized for the safety and health of their loved ones, they might have to call off their big day. “We spent the previous weekend talking about what we were going to do, what we should do and what we were going to be allowed to do,” Tony said.


Jill and Ralph Dupslaff walked their daughter down the aisle. Father Steven McMichael officiated the marriage. “It was surreal,” Annie said. “As soon as I saw Tony, I knew everything was going to be OK. I was like, ‘This is my forever person.’” Ralph said watching his daughter and now son-in-law making their vows was a moment he and his wife will never forget. “Annie and Tony, when they kissed, when Father [McMichael] consecrated the marriage and they cheered ‘woo’ – it came together at that moment,” Ralph said. “Jill and I were holding hands with tears in our eyes. That was the most special part – those two celebrating.” McMichael, who also teaches in the College of Arts and Sciences Theology Program, said the experience was unusual since most of the prayers of the wedding are focused on a group being present for the ceremony. But, he said, the only real difference with the Eicher-Dupslaff wedding was the lack of people. “I really felt compassion for them, as this was not what we were talking about three weeks ago when we got together to discuss the wedding liturgy,” he said. “But they seemed very happy to be married, and that is what the entire event was about.” While Annie and Tony are sad about missing out on all the excitement their original wedding plans held, they’ve rescheduled a party at a later date. Getting married when they did was the right decision for them at this time, Tony said. “It’s crazy because we’ve been affected to our own degree by this virus, but everybody has been affected in some way,” he said. “We’re just trying to make the most out of the situation.” After the ceremony, instead of going on a honeymoon to Hawaii, the newlyweds went back to their home in Chaska, picking up takeout on the way from Wildfire, the same Eden Prairie restaurant where Tony first asked Annie to be his girlfriend. n



School of Education Dean Kathlene Holmes Campbell

amplified their voices and their needs. People need to understand what the implications are.” If the licensing exemption, hadn't passed, Campbell said, the fallout for the new crop of teachers – including 111 from the School of Education – would have been harmful to the education system that already faces teacher shortages in many areas. “Teachers are often overlooked, but we really are there for kids,” Campbell said. “To say that you're not going to help the next generation of teachers coming in would have been a travesty.” Pivoting to online student teaching Even though student teachers were forced to change the way they work with their cooperating teachers in the spring, they continued to gain valuable skills, including flexibility. “The ability to pivot and change everything that you've thought about in an instant is a skill they will use for the rest of their careers,” Campbell said. “I've watched how our student teachers went frombeing nervous and panicked to ‘I get it and I understand how to utilize the skills I already have. All of a sudden, our student teachers realized that they knew where to find different resources online and were able to share the information with their host teachers. Campbell has heard testimonies from many of the cooperating teachers paired with students. They’re grateful for the help and often have relied on student teachers to help them navigate the various online tools needed to help children continue their education. “I'm proud of them,” Campbell said about the students. “I was worried

just like I think anyone else was. I wanted to make sure that our student teachers felt safe and they were OK. But what I've noticed is our student teachers have shifted to thinking about the kids. Campbell and her colleagues at the School of Education have done everything in their power to support their students in a variety of ways. “I've sent updates after every one of the board meetings letting them know which waivers were approved and what it means,” Campbell said. “And then I'm really blessed to have an amazing staff and faculty who then are meeting with the students and explaining how we'll implement it. Students have said ‘thank you for advocating for us’ because they realize that's not happening everywhere else.” The resiliency students have shown during this unprecedented time will benefit their future in the classroom. “Looking back, I don't think we ever could have prepared students for this moment, but I really do feel like they're going to be better teachers for it,” Campbell said.“ n

For students majoring in teacher education, the pandemic has challenged them to embrace new opportunities working with their cooperating teachers on distance learning lessons for their K-12 students. It’s also been an uncertain time for the student teachers when it comes to their future. School of Education Dean Kathlene Holmes Campbell has been working tirelessly advocating for her students on everything from the number of “face-to-face" weeks of student teaching required to the way teacher performance assessments are conducted. Testifying before the Education Policy Committee Because of Campbell and her staff’s hard work, waiver requests for 111 student teachers and 118 teacher candidates in field experience were accepted. In April, Campbell testified at a remote hearing for the Minnesota House of Representatives Education Policy Committee. She asked them to allow student teachers, who are not able to take the requiredMinnesota Teacher Licensure Examination because testing sites are closed, a one-year conditional license without taking the exam first. Because they graduated from a teacher preparation program and they showed that they were competent in all the areas, it would let them teach for a year. Within that calendar year, they would need to take and pass the licensure examination. The bill including this issue was passed in mid-May. “It’s important that we are advocating for our students,” Campbell said. “I worry that, at times, the people who are the most vulnerable don't always have a voice. That's why it’s so important to make sure that I


Anthony Littlejohn, right, manager at The View restaurant, and his brother Carl said the international students living on campus have become like a “second family” to them and the rest of the Dining Services staff.

Photos by MARK BROWN

Second Family’



They are not bare, however. During spring semester, some 125 students continued to live in St. Paul residence halls and dozens of essential staff members continued to work in both St. Paul and Minneapolis. Here’s a glimpse into what life on the St. Paul campus looked like this spring.

students, but those on campus are doing a good job following social distancing guidelines. Students can be outside, and they’re allowed in their residence hall and to swipe into the Anderson Student Center to pick up prepackaged meals from T’s. “Residence Life is continuing to serve the needs of students remaining on campus, which includes a learning-outcomes approach to living on campus: holding virtual one-on-one meetings; holding virtual community meetings; sharing important information about COVID-19, how to be safe and live healthy; and hosting online events,” he said. “The Division of Student Affairs is providing online opportunities for all students to further their learning and engagement.” Saúl Roman, Morrison Hall director and a graduate student in leadership and student affairs, said his position requires him to wear many hats to be a versatile leader. At the beginning of the pandemic, developments and communications were coming fast, so he spent much of his time making sure students had the latest information.When students relocated to Morrison Hall, Roman posted welcome letters on their refrigerators. He followed up with emails regarding virtual group meet- ups and updates on happenings, including Tommie Shelf foodmobile visits.

FAR FROMHOME Alejandra Galo is a first-year student from Honduras who was drawn to St. Thomas for its actuarial science program. She has wanted to study abroad since sixth grade, although she never imagined her travels would include a global pandemic.

When it came time to decide if she would go home or stay on campus, Galo weighed her options. If she went back to her family in Honduras, finding a place to study with reliableWiFi would be a challenge. Then her country closed its borders until further notice. She worries about loved ones back home, especially those with compromised immune systems. Galo moved fromGrace Hall to Morrison Hall where she has an apartment to herself.While she said it’s been lonely on campus, she visits with friends through Zoom. She’s appreciative of the support from the St. Thomas community, especially the Dining Services folks she sees when picking up her meals fromT’s restaurant on campus. “Every time I pick up my food, they’re so happy and supportive,” Galo said. “They always say, ‘How are you doing?’ It’s nice to have someone you can talk to. They’re energetic and happy to see you. That feels good.” REMAININGON CAMPUS Galo is one of approximately 125 students granted an exemption to stay in the residence halls because they couldn’t return home for various reasons. Some had to move to a new building; a majority are living in Flynn and Morrison residence halls. Aaron Macke, associate dean of students and director of Residence Life, acknowledged the situation is hard for

As things have calmed down, he said there’s more room to breathe and think about the current needs of students. “It’s been a challenge to be innovative with Zoom, but we’re using the platform to do more events like bingo nights andmovie watch

parties,” Roman said. “Some people are even doing step- by-step painting instruction. This has been really a call for creativity, especially when it comes to students’ needs.” MISSING FRIENDS Nicolas Lovichi is a Fulbright Scholar and teaching assistant from France living in Morrison Hall. He said St. Thomas has a strong international community, and it was hard to see many of his friends – including his roommates – leave campus.

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