University History

General Background

The University of St. Thomas, founded in 1885 by Archbishop John Ireland, is a Catholic, independent, liberal arts, archdiocesan university that emphasizes values-centered, career-oriented education.

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St. Thomas has been coeducational at the undergraduate level since 1977 and welcomes students of all ages and nationalities and from all religious, racial, ethnic and financial backgrounds.

Overall, 51 percent of students are women (50 percent at undergraduate level and 52 percent at graduate level).

Overall, about 10 percent are U.S. students of color (10.4 percent at undergraduate level and 10.1 percent at graduate level).

Overall, 3 percent are international students (2 percent at the undergraduate level and 4.3 percent at the graduate level).

Overall, 44 percent of students who report their religion are Roman Catholic (53 percent at undergraduate level and 33 percent at graduate level).

St. Thomas is governed by a 44-member Board of Trustees chaired by John M. Morrison. The university is not owned or governed by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

St. Thomas is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, a consortium of five private liberal arts colleges. Other members are Augsburg, St. Catherine, Hamline and Macalester.

U.S. News & World Report's "Best Colleges" survey in 2005 placed St. Thomas in the national universities-doctoral category where it was listed in the third of four tiers. Prior to 2001, St. Thomas was ranked in the magazine's regional universities category, where St. Thomas placed in the top 10 of 125 Midwest colleges and universities.

Recent History

St. Thomas experienced a decade and a half of significant growth from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. Enrollment during that time grew from about 2,500 mostly male undergraduate students to more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate women and men. St. Thomas' 46 graduate programs (all but one established over the past quarter century) account for more than half of the university's enrollment.

The first graduate program, in education, began in 1950; the second, in business, began with 76 students in 1974.

Over the past two decades, St. Thomas has added three new campuses, in Owatonna, downtown Minneapolis, and Rome, Italy.

When it established a new academic structure in 1990 with an undergraduate college and graduate schools, St. Thomas changed its name from college to university. It refined its academic structure in 2001 when it established academic divisions that brought together related graduate and undergraduate programs into common schools and colleges.

Father Dennis Dease began the 14th presidency of St. Thomas in July 1991. He succeeded Monsignor Terrence Murphy, who was president from 1966 to 1991 and subsequently served as chancellor until his death in 2004.

Little-known facts

Bill "the Barber" Weston has given approximately 305,236 haircuts since becoming the campus barber in 1971.

Steve "Greenhouse Steve" Trost, the university's greenhouse manager, grows between 12,000 and 15,000 annuals in campus greenhouses each year. The plants are used in more than 30 garden spots on the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses.

The Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas is the site of more than 100 student and alumni weddings a year. Two weddings are held in the chapel each Saturday, and a Friday evening wedding is held during the summer months.

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