University of St. Thomas: An Overview
Founded in 1885 by John Ireland, the archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, St. Thomas has grown from humble beginnings to become Minnesota’s 17th largest nonprofit organization and its largest outside the field of health care. With more than 6,000 undergraduate and 4,300 graduate students, St. Thomas is also the largest private college or university in Minnesota.
St. Thomas seeks to deliver an education of unquestionable excellence, rooted in the Catholic faith tradition, to students from a wide variety of backgrounds. The university distinguishes itself as a liberal arts, comprehensive university that emphasizes a value-centered, career-oriented education—one that sees beyond “career” to “calling”—and as an outstanding teaching university with faculty and staff whose scholarship, service and personal attention to students change lives.
The university’s programs are designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge to enter successfully into their chosen occupations or fields of further study; enhance their lives and help them to become useful and concerned members of society; and assist them in responding intelligently to the personal, social and spiritual changes that will occur during their lifetimes. St. Thomas seeks to foster in its students a deeper understanding of the totality of life and its purposes and to instill an appreciation for the life of the mind and the joy of learning. It intends that students value what it means to be an educated person and become lifelong learners who derive meaning and satisfaction from integrating the knowledge they have acquired, to use it as a basis for growth.
The university offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 90 major and 60 minor fields of study and more than 60 graduate degree programs in seven academic divisions: College of Arts and Sciences; College of Education, Leadership and Counseling; Opus College of Business; St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity; School of Engineering; School of Law; and School of Social Work. St. Thomas has sought and received accreditation from national or international associations for all of its professional programs. It achieved the final accreditation in 2011 with the Opus College of Business, becoming the first private college or university in Minnesota accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The university as a whole is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and is preparing for its decennial reaccreditation visit in fall 2013.
The university’s 78-acre main campus is located in a park-like setting near the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Paul, Minnesota, equidistant from downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis and within walking distance of shops, restaurants, movie theaters, elementary and secondary schools and two other private colleges. The Minneapolis campus—home to the university’s business, law, education and professional psychology programs—covers three city blocks in downtown Minneapolis. Its location in the center of the city enables ready access to and connectivity with the Twin Cities business community. The university also has campuses in Rome, Italy, and Owatonna, Minnesota.
During the past two decades, the university has invested $350 million in the construction of new buildings. In the past two years alone it has added a new $66 million student center and a $52 million athletic and recreation complex to its St. Paul campus.
The St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses are known for their Collegiate Gothic architecture and generous use of golden limestone from the Mankato-Kasota area of south-central Minnesota. The Minneapolis campus is further distinguished by one of the nation’s largest frescoes, a 1,904-square-foot portrayal of the seven virtues discussed in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the university’s patron.
The Owatonna campus is home to education and retreat facilities as well as the Frank Gehrydesigned Winton Guest House, which once was featured as Time magazine’s House of the Year.
Community and Culture
St. Thomas strives to create a community that embraces caring, diversity, learning, civility, respect, faith, service and celebration. The university is recognized by students, employees and alumni for the personal attention and care it delivers. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (2012) and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal (2010) named St. Thomas a “Top Workplace” and “Best Place to Work” in Minnesota. These awards recognize Minnesota companies based on employee opinions about company leadership, communication, career opportunities, workplace environment and similar factors.
In addition to nearly 11,000 St. Thomas students, the campus community includes more than 1,700 employees committed to delivering an exceptional educational experience that reflects the university’s mission and convictions. Faculty, staff and students live the university’s mission and convictions every day in classes, co-curricular activities and involvement in the larger community.
The university always has taken seriously its responsibility to the broader community, developing academic and outreach programs to address its ever-changing needs. With more than 60 percent of its 95,000 living alumni based in Minnesota and involved in its business, arts and volunteer communities, St. Thomas has unparalleled opportunities to connect campus with community. It does so through mentoring, externship and volunteer programs, employment opportunities and educational programs designed specifically for local organizations. Students and employees collectively contribute tens of thousands of hours of community service each year, especially as tutors and mentors in inner-city schools. In recognition of its community contributions, St. Thomas received the coveted “Community Engagement” classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2006.
St. Thomas is in the final stage of its $500 million Opening Doors capital campaign, scheduled to close in October 2012. One of the campaign’s key objectives is to increase the university’s endowment— particularly for scholarship funds—so that students of all socio-economic groups, all walks of life, all races and all nations can have access to a St. Thomas education.