President Julie Sullivan will continue to maintain open office hours for students and faculty on both the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses this semester.
Sullivan introduced the open office hours in September 2015, and about 80 percent of her appointments so far have involved students or groups of student representatives from campus organizations.
“I want people to feel that I’m accessible, and I want to be here for people on campus – to hear about their experiences and things they are excited or concerned about,” Sullivan said.
Students have visited to talk about topics such as majors and career advice. Some just meet with her to introduce themselves, and others seek advice about how to adjust to college life, Sullivan said. Though her schedule is already busy, Sullivan tries to hear everyone as soon as possible.
“I would frankly extend hours before I turned someone away,” Sullivan said.
In October, seniors Kelly Brenny and Sam Burrows, student board members of the Aquinas Scholars Honors Program, attended Sullivan’s office hours together to arrange for her to attend last semester’s “Pizza with the Prez” event.
Burrows was grateful for the opportunity to meet with Sullivan.
“If nothing else, it’s nice to feel heard and kind of understand the top-down level, where the organization is going and where this school as a whole is going,” Burrows said.
Sullivan believes empathy is the best solution when approaching those actively involved in campus life.
“Sometimes I think the longer you are president, the more you realize how maintaining such a personal connection is very important,” she said. “I believe in being immersed in the community I am trying to serve.”
Time with Sullivan is open to everyone in the St. Thomas community, and appointments run on a first-come, first-served basis. The schedule for the spring office hours can be found on the St. Thomas website, and the best way to schedule an appointment is to call or email Sullivan’s secretary, Karen Hennes.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.