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University of St. Thomas

Undergraduate School

Mailing Address
2115 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55105
(651) 962-6150
Email address
School Information
"Our founding was inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, a 2,000-year-old practice of uniting faith and reason to explore the world. As a Catholic university, we develop future leaders of all faiths looking to make a positive impact on the world. And, we are the only academic institution in Minnesota to be designated a 'Changemaker Campus,' meaning social innovation, entrepreneurship and caring for the common good are built into everything we do. Our three campuses in St. Paul, downtown Minneapolis, and Rome, Italy, offer unique learning and living opportunities" (Source: St. Thomas has over 10,000 students enrolled with a student to faculty ratio of 13 to 1. There are over 150 undergraduate majors and minors and 55 graduate degrees offered among the 3 campuses.
General Information
St. Thomas has a legacy of promoting anti-racism in pedagogic methods. The school started the Racial Justice Initiative in 2020. The leader of this initiative has also led many dialogues outside of this initiative to promote the same goals. Dialogue has also surrounded 'white identity' in the workplace and in education. No mandatory Critical Race Training sessions are yet required of students. However, see developments below:

Actions Taken

Admissions Policies
  • The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion states that it strives to "[i]ncrease the diversity demographics of students, faculty and staff."
  • On June 29, 2023, St. Thomas' President issued a response to the Supreme Court's decision on affirmative action which reads in part as follows: "For these reasons, we argued, ensuring racial diversity in our student populations serves a compelling interest grounded not just in the academic freedom of Catholic colleges and universities, but in our religious freedom as well. The Court’s majority saw things differently, but we need not lose heart. I believe that St. Thomas can continue valuing diversity in all its forms as we recruit and admit students in the coming years."
Anti-Racism, Bias, and Diversity Training
  • St. Thomas has a webpage dedicated to "Supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color" and state that the university holds "anti-bias training for all faculty, students and staff."
  • The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion states that it would "[e]xpand lifelong DEI-related learning programs and initiatives for all employees."
Disciplinary Measures
  • St. Thomas outlines its "bias or hate reporting" protocols and states the following: "Anyone can make a report – the target of a bias incident, a friend, or a witness. If you believe that you or someone else has been adversely affected by a bias incident, make a report. If you are a student who has experienced or witnessed a bias or hate incident, we want to address the incident and provide you with resources."
Political Actions and Support for Anti-Racism
  • The Racial Justice Initiative plans to engage the community in considering "potential partnerships surrounding housing, education, social justice, health care and more."
Program and Research Funding
  • In June 2020, Dr. Yohuru Williams started the Racial Justice Initiative which "will work collaboratively with individuals and organizations already engaged in the essential work of helping to reimagine a future for the Twin Cities free from racial disparities." The focus of this initiative is centered on "supporting racial justice education, facilitating research, exploring community partnerships, and encouraging dialogue and critical conversations" primarily in adult education, and the results will be shared in communities.
  • The Racial Justice Initiative plans to incorporate "research projects and service-learning experiences" for students regarding the history of systemic racism and modern anti-racist efforts.
  • The Racial Justice Initiative also plans to "support and sponsor opportunities for faculty to grow their work" regarding "critical concepts surrounding racial justice."
  • St. Thomas has created a Racial Justice Scholarship. St. Thomas plans on giving scholarships to minority students and to "students whose studies focus on racial and social justice."
  • The Ciresi Walburn Leadership Fellows program at the university is for "students with financial need who are committed to leadership, service, social justice, and exploring the Black experience."
  • In order to further diversify and increase the number of teachers of color in Minnesota K-12 schools, the School of Education has "partnered with school districts and organizations to provide affordable and flexible pathways for prospective teachers of color to choose a career that will make a difference in the lives of students, families and communities across the state."
  • On February 15, 2022, university news announced that St. Thomas launched the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center on Feb. 2, 2022. The center was funded in part "by a $400,000 grant from the GHR Foundation" and will "serve as a central hub to foster and strengthen racial justice and inclusion programs."
Re-Imagining Policing
  • The university is taking steps to reshape policing as they have "a faculty working group" that will "discuss issues around police reform." In addition, they have the St. Thomas Community justice Project which discusses police brutality and seeks to "evaluate potential solutions to policies, practices and conditions that facilitate or perpetuate police brutality against Black Americans."
  • Under one of the goals in the Racial Justice Initiative, St. Thomas will lead a speaker series inviting experts on the subject. St. Thomas will "begin to educate the greater community about African American history as a foundational step to learning, making change and eradicating barriers."
  • St. Thomas started a conference titled 'Equity in Action: Cultivating Antiracist Universities.' Its first keynote speaker was Ibram X. Kendi, author of "How to Be An Antiracist." The inaugural conference discussed, among other things, the recent events surrounding Derek Chauvin, George Floyd, and Ma'Khia Bryant as well as how "to strive toward being an antiracist society."
  • The Summer 2023 issue of St. Thomas Magazine featured the university's "DEI Fellows" which included Dr. Amy Finnegan, Professor of Justice and Peace Studies. The professors scholarly interests "pertain to the white savior complex, critical race theory, degrowth, abolition, dialogue and transformative pedagogies."
  • One of the "values" of Student Diversity & Inclusion Services is to "dismantle structural inequalities and challenge the framework of white supremacy." SDIS also states, "Education and the practice of social justice and activism are central commitments of our initiatives to connect with the goals of advancing and promoting the Common Good at the university."
  • The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion states that it would "[i]mprove academic excellence in DEI in curricular and cocurricular programs."
  • One of the "strategic priorities" for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is to "[e]mbody diversity statements in student applications and employee hiring practices."
Symbolic Actions
  • The leader of the Racial Justice Initiative, Dr. Yohuru Williams, has been given the title of Distinguished University Chair, with many publications and media appearances. Regarding the initiative he leads, he stated, "With the moment in front of us now, there is a tremendous opportunity to see the Twin Cities as a laboratory for change. Here in Minnesota, if we can think creatively, engage broadly, and partner with humility concerning the work we must all do together, we can make a big impact."
  • In July 2020 Jesse Langer, the Assistant Dean of Students, began monthly meetings of members from the Division of Student Affairs. This session is denoted "Discussing White Identity" and is meant to discuss "what it means to be white" and focuses on "understanding systemic racism" as well as "identifying implicit bias.
  • Dr. Yohuru Williams leads a podcast called Civics 101, discussing racial issues.
  • St. Thomas interviewed Rama Hart in discussing inclusion and equity in the workplace with a goal "to teach inclusion and equity successfully."
  • St. Thomas libraries published its "statement against racism" which reads in part as follows: "Black lives matter. Asian lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. The lives of Indigenous and People of Color and other marginalized groups matter...we must continually work and learn to be anti-racist and to put our learning into action. That work requires listening, reflection, learning, questioning, and acting to bring justice."
Last updated February 22nd, 2024
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