University of St. Thomas Magazine Fall/Winter 2020

the nation, the ability to attract additional out-of- state students becomes more critical by the day.

became a part of daily life in the spring. The pandemic’s onset has exacerbated the situation.

“We are the largest private university in the state, by far,” President Julie Sullivan said. “We’re the only private comprehensive university in Minnesota. There is so much that’s distinct about us and who we are, and our profile is not the same as anyone else in this state.”

For starters, the financial impact of the pandemic has already caused the university to reexamine its transition expenses and reduce total investment, while implementing a longer transitional period. The athletics department is anticipating incremental athletics expenses to be offset by philanthropy and additional revenue associated with D-I athletics. Progress is already being made; earlier in the fall, for example, Esten announced the hiring of Ben Fraser as senior associate athletic director, development. Then in October, St. Thomas launched the Tommie Athletic Fund as the main philanthropic arm of the D-I move, along with the program’s first two fully endowed scholarships (one each for men’s and women’s basketball). Aside from philanthropy and incremental revenue, financing also will come from a Board-of-Trustees- controlled endowment fund that supports strategic initiatives to match the university’s long-term goals

Sullivan is confident St. Thomas can use the D-I move to help spread that word.

“My optimism about St. Thomas has never been higher,” Sullivan continued. “We are stepping onto a larger platform to tell our story about what we do, why we do it and how we do it well.” The road ahead Of course, the reclassification needs to be completed first, and no one has any illusions the journey to D-I will be easy – particularly during a global pandemic that has upended college sports. The hard question of financing was on the table long before COVID-19

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