University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)

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University of St. Thomas

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Mission Challenge Yourself, Change Our World
Established 1885
School type Private, Roman Catholic
President Rev. Denis Dease
Location St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Campus Metropolitan 87 acres (352,000 m²)
Enrollment 5,200 undergraduate
5,800 graduate
Web Site

The University of Saint Thomas is a Roman Catholic institution of higher learning. It currently has an enrollment of more than 11,000 students, making it Minnesota's largest independent college or university.



The University of Saint Thomas was founded in 1885 as a Roman Catholic liberal arts college. Now a university, it currently enrolls of more than 11,000 students, making it Minnesota's largest independent college or university.

The university is named after Thomas Aquinas, a medieval Catholic theologian, philosopher, and saint.

Rev. Dennis Dease became the 14th president of the University of St. Thomas on July 1, 1991


The University of St. Thomas has four campuses: St. Paul, MN, Minneapolis, MN, Owatonna, MN, and Rome, Italy.

Google Map (,+MN+55105&num=10&cid=44934723,-93165148,16258544370259718807&radius=0.000000&hl=en&ie=UTF-8|)

The St. Paul campus

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Arched entryway to the St. Paul campus

The main campus, built on a farm site once considered "far removed from town," is located where St. Paul's stately 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 spectacular mansion.

The 78 acre (316,000 m²) St. Paul campus consists of the original 45 acre (182,000 m²) campus, five acres (20,000 m²) of adjacent properties and 28 acres (113,000 m²) of the St. Paul Seminary campus (informally referred to as the "south" campus) that was transferred in a 1987 affiliation between St. Thomas and the seminary. The beautifully landscaped campus has been used as a setting for two motion pictures.

The Minneapolis campus

In fall 1992, the university opened a permanent, 150,000 square foot (14,000 m²) campus at 1000 LaSalle Ave. The building, named Terrence Murphy Hall in May 2000, is headquarters to the Graduate School of Business and Graduate School of Professional Psychology. Artist Mark Balma created one of the largest frescoes in the United States on the arched ceiling of Terrence Murphy Hall's atrium. The seven-panel, 1,904 square foot (177 m²) fresco was completed in the summer of 1994 and portrays the seven virtues discussed in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Directly across the street is Opus Hall. The four-story, 100,000 square foot (9,000 m²) building opened in summer 1999 and is home to St. Thomas' School of Education. Connected to Opus Hall is a K-12 magnet school that also opened in 1999.

The University of St. Thomas School of Law began operations in Terrence Murphy Hall in fall 2001; the new School of Law building opened in 2003 and is located on the block south of Terrence Murphy Hall.

The Gainey Conference Center (Owatonna)

The Gainey Center is located on 180 acres (728,000 m²) in Owatonna just one hour south of the Twin Cities. The conference center and satellite campus was built around the French Norman-style home of the late Daniel C. Gainey who bequeathed the property to the university upon his death in 1979.

The Bernardi campus (Rome)

The University of St. Thomas Bernardi Campus is located on the west bank of the Tiber River at Lungotevere delle Armi in Rome, Italy.

Purchased by St. Thomas in November 1999, the Bernardi Campus houses St. Thomas students participating in academic programs and offers guest accommodations for visitors. Situated in the heart of the modern Prati Zone, the campus is near both the center of Rome and Vatican City.

The University of Thomas is the only university in the United States to have a formal affiliation with the Pontifical University of St. Thomas, called the "Angelicum." The university was founded by the Dominicans in the 16th century.


  • Founded in 1885, St. Thomas began as an all-male, Catholic seminary. John Ireland, archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul, started the St. Thomas Aquinas seminary, which became a college in 1894. A gift from local railroad tycoon James J. Hill provided funds to establish the St. Paul Seminary apart from the college.
  • In 1896, college officials made an artificial lake, Lake Mennith, using water from an underground stream. Located in the lower quadrant, the shallow lake dried up in 1922.
  • The College of St. Thomas became a military-based school for undergraduates in 1906 and awarded its first academic degrees in 1910. Before that, the school gave out two-year diplomas in commercial and classical programs.
  • In 1915, the college and St. Thomas Military Academy for high school students split into two institutions and in 1965 the academy moved to Mendota Heights. The college later dropped its military distinction in 1922.
  • 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 home to the O'Shaughnessey-Frey Library. Tom Town consisted of white, barrack-like housing units for faculty, students and their families. The units helped to meet housing demand after WWII.
  • 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.
  • Women started attending classes at St. Thomas for the first time in 1977 and now St. Thomas' undergraduate student body is 51 percent women and 49 percent men, according to Institutional Research.
  • In 1991, the College of St. Thomas became the University of St. Thomas. The following year, the university opened the Minneapolis campus.


Each year the university awards almost 2,500 degrees including four different bachelorís degrees (B.A., 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. At the graduate and professional level, the university offers 41 masterís degrees, two education specialist, one juris doctor and five doctorates.

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. Other ACTC members are Augsburg, St. Catherine, Hamline and Macalester. This program allows students to take classes at any of the associated universities as long as the class is not offered at their home university.


Notable alumni

External link


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