Dear students, faculty and staff,

On Thursday, people all across the United States will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon and express our gratitude for the blessings in our lives. This Thanksgiving, I am reflecting upon the blessing of you  our St. Thomas community of students, faculty and staff.

I am grateful that we are a community dedicated to the mission of advancing the common good and to convictions. In particular, I highlight our convictions of dignity (“We respect the dignity of each person and value the unique contributions that each brings to the greater mosaic of the university community.”), diversity (“We strive to create a vibrant diverse community in which, together, we work for a more just and inclusive society.”), and personal attention (“We foster a caring culture that supports the well-being of each member.”), which are closely tied to the Catholic social teaching principles of “respect for the dignity of all human persons” and “solidarity.” We are all part of one human family and have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of all persons. We are called to express our empathy and cannot remain untouched by the suffering of an injustice against any brother or sister anywhere on the planet.

Recommitting ourselves to our mission and convictions is particularly important at this moment in time in our world and in our university. The current tensions, pain, anger, and violence in our local and global communities remind us that our world is filled with injustice and that we have become a more isolated and polarized society increasingly sorting ourselves into groups that negatively stereotype one another.

Students, faculty and staff at college campuses across the nation are speaking out about the insensitivities, disrespect, negative stereotypes, and micro-aggressions they have experienced on their campuses and beyond. St. Thomas is not immune to these experiences. Members of our community have experienced this same pain and anger as a result of the words and actions of others in our community.

Yet, I am grateful. I am grateful that over the past couple of weeks I have witnessed our community come together to acknowledge our failings, express our empathy for one another, and commit ourselves to positive action as a community. I am grateful for the mature, candid and thoughtful discussions that are happening on our campus around race, class, and diversity and our recognition of the need to continue these conversations. I am grateful for the outstanding recommendations that have come forth to date from our students of color and international students and our strategic planning task forces. I am grateful for a renewed faith that, working together, we will more fully live our mission of advancing the common good and our convictions of dignity, diversity and personal attention.

Thank you for the blessing of our St. Thomas community. Happy Thanksgiving!

President Julie Sullivan

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