Celebrating STM's 75th

There is nothing like starting a new job and being faced with planning a monumental celebration as your first task at hand.

As the new president of St. Thomas More College (STM), Terrence Downey had the college's 75th anniversary waiting for him as soon as he stepped through the doors. Needless to say, he had a lot of catching up to do.

"I've been here for about a month and with the anniversary quickly approaching I have had the chance to meet a lot of people involved with the college," Downey said. "As an outsider, I am struck by the incredible commitment that faculty, staff and graduates have to STM."

Marking the anniversary will be a number of events planned throughout the weekend of Sept. 23-25. "I am grateful to be celebrating the considerable achievements of the past and not only our excellent standing here at the U of S, but within the community too," said Downey. "The weekend is a great opportunity for current faculty, staff and students and our graduates to reconnect with the STM family."

It is that community feel that makes STM different, explained Downey. "The presence of the STM community within the larger university community offers an opportunity for students to develop mind, body and spirit and broaden horizons within a Catholic context. I think it complements what is available on this campus. Plus, we apparently have the best food on campus," Downey said with a chuckle.

"We have smaller classes and students have the opportunity to engage more with each other and really get to know their teachers. It is like a family here. We support our students, not just academically, but as individuals with aspirations and hope."

That family environment, said Downey, comes at a critical point in a student's life. "We have such critical jobs as teachers. We are facing staggering changes in society in terms of technology, the environment, politics and economics. We are preparing our students to address these challenges some of which we can't even imagine yet."

For Downey, no matter how much has changed in STM's 75 years, there will always be constants. "We will always offer a supportive community, that's why people have such a connection. We will never lose that. I am invigorated by the opportunity to constantly enhance what we do in terms of research, teaching and providing a first-class scholarly environment. We will always maximize our students' potential."

Downey's vision for the college is starting to take shape, a vision that continues to build on the college's 75-year history. "Whatever we do, we will always be a first-class academic community that creates opportunity for students and looks outward to the community in order to make a contribution. Our graduates are evidence of that; they are remarkable people who have changed the world and their communities. We don't just talk about caring, we practice it."

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