Do you ever have those stretches of time when you are moving so fast – running to meetings, keeping up with email and voice-mail, handling the latest emergency – that you don’t sit down long enough to think about how good this university truly is?
I seem to have a lot of those stretches! And then I find myself in the right setting at the right time, and I discover again how wonderful the University of St. Thomas and its students, faculty and staff really are.
The latest occasion was a Feb. 3 meeting of the Minnesota Senate Higher Education Committee. The committee visited three campuses this winter, and we were flattered that senators and their staff members chose St. Thomas (as well as the University of Minnesota and Normandale Community College). Their request was simple: tell us about your programs, especially those that have an impact on the larger community and society as a whole.
We gave four presentations – on the impact of the Minnesota State Grant Program, our Cristo Rey service learning project, our Collaborative Urban Educator (CUE) program and our research projects conducted by a chemistry professor, his students and the corporate sector.
Each of the presentations was fascinating in its own right . . . and each caused me to smile in admiration and be grateful that I work with such talented and committed people.
The Cristo Rey project launched last fall by our Communication and Journalism Department and Dr. Carol Bruess is phenomenal in the way it brought together 135 St. Thomas students and 140 students from the new Jesuit high school in south Minneapolis. You can read more about the project at http://www.stthomas.edu/magazine/2009/Winter/CristoRey.html, and make sure you watch the video.
Our CUE program, led by Drs. Jeanne Mortinson and Trudi Taylor, has educated and licensed 330 teachers of color since 1992, many of whom had grown restless in their corporate jobs and decided to pursue a new career: as a teacher. One of those alumni showed emotion as he described his transition from accountant to educator, and I was thrilled that we could provide that opportunity for him. You can read more about CUE at http://www.stthomas.edu/education/cue/default.html.
Dr. Tom Ippoliti also is an opportunity provider. The professor called “Doc” by his students has established an ambitious program under which seven professors and 39 students worked on research for area corporations, including Boston Scientific, last summer. Everybody benefits by this collaboration (http://www.stthomas.edu/chemistry/news/summerresearch08.html).
As I sat in the Senate committee meeting and listened to the presentations, I found myself getting a real jolt – of pride, of satisfaction, of gratitude – and I realized again what a great learning community the University of St. Thomas is. That jolt added a charge to my battery that will keep me going for a long time.