The search is on for the next St. Thomas president.
A crowd of more than 50 students attended a student forum Monday, May 14, afternoon in Schoenecker Arena to voice what qualities they want in the next potential university president. Current university president the Rev. Dennis Dease announced last week that he will retire after the 2012-2013 school year after serving 22 years as university president.
Students like junior Nick Sacren put an emphasis on finding someone who understands how to accommodate different departments and classes for students.
“What was unique about St. Thomas and why I decided to come here was the integration of liberal arts with the business program,” junior Nick Sacren said. “If it wasn’t for that integration… I could have chosen (University of Minnesota) Carlson.”
Sophomore Nathaniel Binversie said he almost transferred to the University of Wisconsin but chose to stay at St. Thomas because of its mission and vision. One thing that he said he’d like the future president to make a priority is “Tommie pride.”
“One of the many free T-shirts I remember seeing being handed out was a T-shirt that read ‘Tommie Pride,’” Binversie said. “This school is low, very low, when it comes to Tommie pride among students. If you can’t see that, you haven’t been to a playoff football game or playoff basketball game.”
Biniversie also said he doesn’t expect the next president to be a member of the clergy, but he said that he believes that students expect and desire candidates who will stay true to the St. Thomas mission statement.
Several students also expressed a concern for the lack of student body campus involvement. Many would like to see an increase in Greek life on campus and the sense of family and community that Greek life offers.
Dennis Barton, a representative from the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, is in charge of finding possible candidates. He said this is the third start-up for a presidential search he has performed in the last three weeks, and said the forum had a high student turnout.
“From my perspective, that’s an index of the degree to which you and your fellows out there in the student body care about the future of this institution,” Barton said.
Barton said a presidential search website will launch within the next few weeks where students and other community members who weren’t able to attend the forum can offer their opinion on what qualities they would like to see in the next St. Thomas president.
“I want you to know your voice is heard and respected in this process,” Barton said. “The future of this institution is your future.”
Kristopher Jobe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.