Jerry Anderley was promoted to associate vice president of facilities this fall. But don’t think he’s living the high life now, asking dozens of UST staff under him to snap to it. Oh, he’s busy all right, managing all that stuff that facilities folks do: chairs for this event, rooms for that class, a new roof for one building, better wiring for another. The list is never done.

But Jerry’s also working like one of Santa’s elves. In fact, right now he’s under the gun; Christmas is a little less than a month away. He’s got a deadline and a job to do and, by God, he’ll get it done.

Jerry’s goal was to replace St. Thomas’ Christmas lights before Thanksgiving. All 20,000 of them, one by one. By himself.

It turns out that many of St. Thomas’ beautiful Christmas tree light strings hadn’t had replacement bulbs in about 10 years. Some had rusting sockets, and some had dead spots that needed some maintenance. So it was time for the facilities crew to get the job done. First the campus electricians dealt with wires that squirrels had gnawed and weather had deteriorated. Then came time to replace the bulbs.

“I couldn’t really ask anyone to do this job,” Anderley said. “It’s just so time-consuming and tedious. You have to unscrew each bulb, take it out, and screw in the new one. I figured I’d just do it.”

And so, if you’ve noticed that Jerry looks a little tired these days, it’s because he’s been coming in early — say, 4 or 5 a.m. — to work on the light strings. When he’s done, he’ll have put in about 40 extra hours (and vice presidents don’t get overtime pay) over the past month.

Prepare to notice Jerry’s handiwork, though. No more white lights on the St. Paul campus. The new ones are blue.

Why blue? “Well, I just like blue lights,” Jerry said. “Blue’s a nice color. Besides, blue lights are very European. Have you ever been to the Piazza Navona in Rome at Christmastime? I was there when I was a student, and the whole place was decked out in blue lights. It was just beautiful.”

Anderley, a 26-year St. Thomas veteran, studied theology at Gregorian University and lived at the North American College in Rome for three years in the early 1970s. Shortly afterward, he began working at the then-College of St. Thomas.

This year, as St. Thomas has just dedicated its Rome campus — not far from the Piazza Navona — the blue lights are, well, “conveniente.”

Come to the university’s fourth-annual Christmas tree- and crèche-lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, on the north side of the Summit Avenue arches. Join members of the University Concert Choir, Campus Ministry and other university programs for this annual event to herald the Christmas season.

A reception with hot chocolate, punch and Christmas treats follows in Murray-Herrick Campus Center.

.While warming up with holiday treats, the university community then will dedicate the Mitten Tree in Murray-Herrick’s student lounge. Donations of new mittens, gloves, socks, hats and scarv es for the tree will be accepted through Dec. 18. Bring your donations to the Center for Student Leadership and Activities or to the Luann Dummer Center for Women. All donations will benefit needy Minnesota teens.

Questions? Call the CSLA office, (651) 962-6130.