Tuesday was a day of firsts at St. Thomas as university president Julie Sullivan spoke to faculty for the first time, on the first day of the new school year.
“I want to welcome you to the 2013-2014 academic year at the University of St. Thomas,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan recalled how she was welcomed into the St. Thomas community a few short months ago.
“Among those who greeted me was Tommie, our lovable and always cheerful mascot … it was an incredible moment whose memory has remained with me,” Sullivan said. “It characterizes the genuine spirit of openness, hospitality, and generosity you have extended to me over the last 6½ months.”
Sullivan stressed three areas of focus at the convocation: academic excellence, catholic identity and organizational culture.
“Faculty, staff and students uniformly agree the world class quality of our faculty. You are described as committed, dedicated, engaged, talented, caring, and passionate,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan also said the university’s mission was strong.
“First, our Catholic identity and mission should be reflected in our curriculum. As a Catholic university, we seek to ensure our students to debate and explore the ultimate questions of human existence,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan made a special point about welcoming people of all backgrounds.
“As Pope Francis reminded us, we are not called to judge, we are called to love and support everyone in our community regardless of their sexual orientation,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan also acknowledged the Rev. Dennis Dease, who retired last spring.
“What Father Dease and you accomplished over the last 22 years was absolutely astonishing,” she said.
While Sullivan is pleased with St. Thomas’ accomplishments, she is determined to improve on what she said would be an exciting and fulfilling journey.
Eden Checkol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.