University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)

This article is about the institute of higher education in Minnesota. For other schools named University of St. Thomas, see University of St. Thomas.

Coordinates: 44°56′24.92″N 93°11′36.33″W / 44.9402556°N 93.1934250°W / 44.9402556; -93.1934250

University of St. Thomas
Former names
College of St. Thomas (1885–1990)
Motto All for the common good
Type Private
Established 1885
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic
Endowment $458 million[1]
Budget $204 million[2]
President Julie Sullivan
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 10,229
Undergraduates 6,234
Postgraduates 3,995
Location St. PaulMinneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Campus Urban: 78 acres (32 ha)
Colors Purple & Gray          
Athletics NCAA Division IIIMIAC
Sports 11 men and 11 women varsity teams
Nickname Tommies
Mascot Tommie the Tomcat
Affiliations ACCU

The University of St. Thomas (also known as St. Thomas) is a private, Catholic, liberal arts, and archdiocesan university located in St. Paul and Minneapolis, United States. Founded in 1885 as a Catholic seminary, it is named after Thomas Aquinas, the medieval Catholic theologian and philosopher who was the patron saint of students in the Roman Catholic Church. St. Thomas currently enrolls more than 10,000 students, making it Minnesota's largest private – non-profit university. Dr. Julie Sullivan became the 15th president in the history of the University in 2013.


Founded in 1885 by John Ireland, archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, St. Thomas began as an all-male, Catholic seminary.[3][4] In 1894, the liberal arts program became an independent college through a gift from local railroad tycoon James J. Hill, who provided funds to establish the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity apart from the college.[4] In 1903, the College of St. Thomas established a military program on campus, and it was officially termed a military school by the U.S. War Department in 1906. Initially, the school gave out two-year diplomas in commercial and classical programs before awarding its first academic degrees in 1915. In 1922, military training became optional.

From the late 1920s through the mid-1930s, the Holy Cross Fathers, who run the University of Notre Dame, controlled the college's administration. The diocese called those priests in to help with the school's financial problems; those priests were known as a crisis intervention team of sorts for parochial schools of that time. During World War II, St. Thomas served as a training base for naval officers, which kept the school open when men who would have attended college were fighting in the war. After the war, in 1948, the college established "Tom Town" on the eastern end of the lower quadrant, which is currently the site to the O'Shaughnessey-Frey Library and O'Shaughnessey Education Center. Tom Town, made of 20 double-dwelling huts, consisted of white, barrack-like housing units for faculty, students and their families. The units helped to meet housing demand after World War II.

In the latter half of the 20th century, St. Thomas started two of its most notable graduate programs: Education in 1950 and Business Administration in 1974. The school became co-educational in 1977 and although women were not allowed to enroll until then, female students from St. Catherine University (then the College of St. Catherine) often took classes at St. Thomas. Women were also present as instructors and administrators on campus but the staff, faculty, and administration has seen a vast increase in female employment since the move to co-education. In 1990, the College of St. Thomas became the University of St. Thomas[5] and the following year, the university opened the Minneapolis campus. In 2001, St. Thomas reinstated its School of Law at its Minneapolis Campus; it had been shut down during the Great Depression. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the speaker at the Grand Opening.


Saint Paul

Arched entryway to the St. Paul campus

The St. Paul campus is home to most undergraduate students. The main campus, built on a farm site once considered "far removed from town", is located where St. Paul's Summit Avenue meets the Mississippi River. The site was farmed by ex-Fort Snelling soldier William Finn, who received the property as a pension settlement after he accidentally shot himself in the hand while on guard duty.

The western edge of the campus borders the Mississippi Gorge Regional Park. Summit Avenue, which runs through the middle of the campus, is the country's longest span of Victorian homes. This tree-lined avenue includes the Governor's Mansion, F. Scott Fitzgerald's townhome, and James J. Hill's mansion.[6]

Murray-Herrick Center

In 2005, a new apartment-style residence hall was built on an existing parking lot.[7] McNeely Hall was also built the following year. It is a large classroom building for business that replaced the smaller building of the same name.[8] A new residential village, more parking ramps, and general planning all have been negotiated successfully with the surrounding neighborhood. These developments are expected to begin within the next five years.

In early 2012, St. Thomas completed the final stage of its three building expansion on the St. Paul campus.[9] The two main additions that were completed are the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Center (AARC) and the Anderson Student Center. These projects were completed in the Summer of 2010 and January 2012, respectively.[10] The Anderson Athletic and Recreation Center has a field house, basketball arena, weight room, and swimming pool.[11] The track in the field house is home to the most dominant track team in the MIAC conference. Other St. Thomas sports that use the AARC's facilities have also endured recent success, including a playoff run for the football team, and a National Championship for the Men's Basketball team. The new Anderson Student Center is home to new food venues as well as entertainment options including a game room and a bowling alley, and a coffee shop. There is also an art gallery on the second floor, which is home to the American Museum of Asmat Art.


Downtown Minneapolis Campus

In fall 1992, the university opened a permanent, 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) campus at 1000 LaSalle Ave. in Minneapolis. The first building, named Terrence Murphy Hall in May 2000, is headquarters to the university's Opus College of Business. Artist Mark Balma created one of the largest frescoes in the United States on the arched ceiling of its atrium.[12] The seven-panel, 1,904 square feet (176.9 m2) fresco was completed in the summer of 1994 and portrays the seven virtues discussed in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Minneapolis campus also holds St. Thomas' School of Education, the School of Law, and Schulze School of Entrepreneurship.

Daniel C. Gainey Conference Center (Owatonna)

On May 15, 2014, it was announced that the Daniel C. Gainey Conference Center was sold to Meridian Behavioral Health, LLC with a plan to convert it to a treatment facility for addiction and behavioral disorders. The deal closed in August 2014. The deal included the entire 180 acre property and all the buildings except for the Winston Guest House, which was designed by architect Frank Gehry. St. Thomas is still exploring options for the house which will remain on the Gainey property for up to two years.[13] Terms were not disclosed.[14]

Bernardi (Rome)

Since 1999 the University of St. Thomas has been the only university in the United States to have a formal affiliation with the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).[15]


Years served President
1885–1887 Father Thomas O'Gorman
1887–1888 Father Edward McSweeney
1888–1892 Father James Keane
1892–1899 Father James Byrne
1899–1903 Father John Dolphin
1903–1921 Father Humphrey Moynihan
1921–1927 Father Thomas Cullen
1927–1928 Father John P. Foley
1928–1933 Father Matthew Schumacher
1933–1943 Father James Moynihan
1944–1956 Father Vincent Flynn
1956–1966 Father James P. Shannon
1966–1991 Monsignor Terrence Murphy
1991–2013 Father Dennis Dease
2013–present Dr. Julie Sullivan


Frey Science and Engineering Center

Each year the university awards almost 2,500 degrees including five different bachelor's degrees (B.A., B.M., B.S., B.S.M.E. and B.S.E.E.). There are 88 major fields at the undergraduate level, with 59 minor fields of study and seven pre-professional programs. At the graduate and professional level, the university offers 41 master's degrees, two education specialist, one juris doctor and five doctorates.

University rankings
Forbes[16] 229
U.S. News & World Report[17] 118
Washington Monthly[18] 245

Schools and colleges

The university offers its degree programs through nine divisions. The College of Arts and Sciences includes undergraduate departments in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, plus a number of interdisciplinary programs. The Opus College of Business has seven departments offering graduate and undergraduate curricula including Executive Education and Professional Development at University of St. Thomas, and is one of six AACSB accredited business schools in Minnesota.[19] St. Thomas also houses the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, which offers master's- and doctoral-level degrees oriented to theological study and the practice of ministry. St. John Vianney Seminary, a minor college seminary, is also at St. Thomas. Other schools include the School of Education, the School of Engineering, and the School of Social Work. The Master of Social Work is offered as a double degree program with the St. Catherine University.

School of Law

Schools housed on the Minneapolis campus include the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, Undergraduate and Graduate Schools of Education, Graduate Programs in Software Engineering, and the School of Law, which was re-opened in 1999 after a 66-year hiatus.

The University of St. Thomas is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC), a consortium of five private liberal arts colleges. This program allows students to take classes at one of the associated colleges for no additional cost. Other schools include Hamline University, St. Catherine University, Macalester College, and Augsburg College.[20]


Tommie/Johnnie Football in 2005
MIAC Basketball Finals versus Carleton in 2006

St. Thomas's school colors are purple and gray, and the athletic teams are called the Tommies. The mascot for these teams is "Tommie" the tomcat. The name Tommy was changed to Tommie with an 'ie' when women were accepted as full-time students to be more inclusive of the women. St. Thomas is a member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), which performs at the NCAA Division III level. Since 1885 athletics have been present on St. Thomas' campus. The first sports teams that became popular were intramural. The top intramural baseball teams in the 1890s were the "Blues" and "Grays", which is where the Tommies' school colors come from. Varsity sports did not begin until 1904. St. Thomas celebrated its 100th year of varsity athletics in 2003–2004.[21]

St. Thomas' longtime archrival is Saint John's University from Collegeville, Minnesota. Recent national titles include men's basketball in 2011 and 2016;[22] men's baseball in 2009 and 2001; women's softball in 2005 and 2004; men's lacrosse (MCLA Division II) in 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2009; women's volleyball in 2012; and dance team in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2006. St. Thomas also won national championships with women's basketball in 1991; men's cross country in 1986 and 1984; men's indoor track in 1985; and women's cross country in 1987, 1986, 1984 and 1982. In 2012, St. Thomas played for the first time in the Stagg Bowl in Salem, Virginia, which is the Division III Football National Championship game, against the University of Mount Union, losing 28-10.[23]

WCCO broadcasts radio coverage of Tommies football games.[24]

Student life

Student housing

Cretin Hall, built in 1894

Undergraduate housing is found on the St. Paul Campus. Approximately 2,400 residents live in 10 traditional halls and apartments. Additionally, St. John Vianney College Seminary holds approximately 140 students. All traditional halls are single-sex, while apartment residences are co-ed by floor. Residence halls on campus are named after Archbishops of Minneapolis–St. Paul, such as William O. Brady, Austin Dowling, and John Ireland. The all-female traditional hall of John Paul II is named after the former Pope. Built in 1894, Cretin Hall is the oldest hall on campus and was designed (along with Loras and Grace halls) by Cass Gilbert.

Recently the department of residence life has purchased additional buildings on what they are calling 'mid-campus' in the area between Grand and Summit Avenues. These buildings house men and women transfer students in one of two buildings, separated by gender. There is an apartment complex that is specifically designed for sophomores. Also, they house students in the residence above the Child Development Center, which is a day-care facility on campus.

Morrison Hall is connected to Koch Commons with a skyway

The University of St. Thomas offers special interest floors, or floors that are intended to house specific residents with similar interests or class standing. Almost one-third of all floors are First Year Experience floors, which consist of only freshmen. This practice attempts to create a cohesive community by placing students together that will have a similar experience. St. Thomas has also had a Catholic Women's floor, Catholic Men's floor, which are designed to help young men and women grow in their faith, the Changing Faces of Minnesota floors, the Women in Math & Science floor, Substance Free floors, and opened their first Sophomore Experience floors in the fall of 2008.

Housing Policies
The campus is not dry: students over 21 years of age are allowed alcohol in the upper-class apartments.

Undergraduate Student Government

The on-campus student association is the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), formerly known as the ACC. The student government is made up of an executive board and general council. Each executive board member receives a stipend. The executive board consists of the president of the student body, executive vice president, vice president of financial affairs, vice president of academic affairs, vice president of administrative affairs and vice president of public relations. The general council consists of class presidents, class senators and representatives from various university organizations.

The student government oversees funding to all clubs on campus, approves new club requests, appoints students to various university committees and represents the student body to the administration. USG has its own offices located in the student center. Elections are held in the fall and spring every academic year.


Desmond Tutu

In 2007, the president of the University of St. Thomas, Father Dennis Dease, cancelled a planned speech by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and anti-apartheid figure, Desmond Tutu, on the grounds that his presence might offend some members of the local Jewish community.[25] Many faculty members of Voice for Peace led an email campaign calling on St. Thomas to reconsider its decision,[26] which the president did and invited Tutu to campus.[27] Tutu declined the re-invitation, speaking instead at the Minneapolis Convention Center at an event hosted by Metropolitan State University.[28] However, Tutu later addressed the issue two days later while making his final appearance at Metro State.

Demolition of Foley Theater

In 2008, plans were announced to the public that the theater department at the University of St. Thomas was to be dissolved and that the school would no longer offer this major. Declining numbers of theater majors was publicly cited as the reason. However, during this same time, plans were underway to make space for a new student center to be named after the Anderson family, then the largest single donors to a single private institution in United States history. Despite protests from senior faculty and students, the decision was made to demolish the theater and dissolve the department the same semester; though, according to the Dean of St. Thomas's College of Arts and Sciences, Marisa Kelly, the two decisions were "completely unrelated".[29]

Notable faculty and staff

Notable alumni

Academia and Education

Arts and Entertainment


Business and Leadership

Law, Politics, Government, and Military



See also


  1. (PDF) Retrieved May 22, 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. "Quick Facts About St. Thomas". n.d. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Jarchow 1973, pp. 39—40.
  5. Murphy 2001, pp. 7.
  6. "Summit Avenue". Project for Public Spaces. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  7. "Take a look at new Selby Hall today, Sept. 6" (Press release). University of St. Thomas. September 6, 2005. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  8. "McNeely Legacy Opens Doors" (Press release). University of St. Thomas. November 15, 2006. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  9. "Construction Projects". University of St. Thomas. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  10. Kimball, Joe (October 18, 2012). "University of St. Thomas raises more than $500 million in capital campaign". Minn Post. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  11. "Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex". University of St. Thomas. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  12. Fedo, Michael (19 November 1993). "Artist Mark Balma's Lasting Impression". The Christian Science Monitor: 12. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  13. Deadline set on Winton House move: University has two years after sale of Gainey Center September 30, 2014 Retrieved October 23, 2014
  14. University of St. Thomas finds buyer for Owatonna conference center May 15, 2014 Retrieved October 23, 2014
  15. Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, Handbook of Studies 2012- 2013, p. 303
  16. "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. July 5, 2016.
  17. "Best Colleges 2017: National Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. September 12, 2016.
  18. "2016 Rankings - National Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  19. "St. Thomas' Opus College of Business receives AACSB accreditation : Opus College of Business : University of St. Thomas". Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  20. Murphy 2001, pp. 8, 33.
  21. "Traditions & Spirit". University of St. Thomas Athletics. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
  22. St. Thomas pounds Wooster for NCAA Division III men's title – ESPN
  23. "St. Thomas reaches Div. III title game". ESPN. December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  24. "WCCO Radio to broadcast St. Thomas football games". WCCO. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  25. Furst, Randy (4 October 2007). "St. Thomas won't host Tutu". Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  26. Furst, Randy (15 October 2007). "St. Thomas urged to reconsider its decision not to invite Tutu". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  27. "UST president says he made wrong decision, invites Tutu to campus". University of St. Thomas Bulletin. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  28. Mador, Jessica (12 April 2008). "Desmond Tutu avoids politics while talking about peace". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 6 May 2008.
  29. Furst, Randy (9 October 2008). "St. Thomas drops the curtain: Eliminates theater department, slates Foley Theater for destruction". Twin Cities Daily Planet. Retrieved 24 February 2014.


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