Archbishop dedicates two-year college at St. Thomas

| October 17, 2017 | 4 Comments


Archbishop Bernard Hebda dedicated the new Dougherty Family College program at the University of St. Thomas Oct. 13. Courtesy Mike Ekern, University of St. Thomas

Archbishop Bernard Hebda blessed the new two-year Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis campus Oct. 13.

He spoke of how the university’s founder, Archbishop John Ireland, envisioned St. Thomas in 1885 as a place for immigrant children to find an education and make a difference in society.

“As different as our world is today, this new college has the same fundamental goal as its predecessor — to give promising students an education and an opportunity to realize their dreams,” Archbishop Hebda said.

St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan also spoke of Archbishop Ireland’s vision as inspiration for the Dougherty Family College. Sullivan identified the recent achievement gap in Twin Cities as an issue she wanted to address as St. Thomas’ president from day one, she said.

“An early passion of mine upon arriving in Minnesota [in 2013] was to find a way for St. Thomas to play a role in ensuring the future strength of our state’s workforce,” she said. “Currently, unacceptable gaps in prosperity and educational attainment exist in the Twin Cities area. At the same time, dire workforce shortages are projected for our state, and Minnesota ranks 10th in the United States for the percentage of jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree.”

Mike Dougherty cuts the ribbon for the new Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis campus. Courtesy Mike Ekern, University of St. Thomas

The Dougherty Family College opened this year with 107 students who are working toward a two-year associate of arts degree. Upon graduation, they may continue their education at a four-year college. Admission was granted to students who might otherwise not be able to afford a college education.

Dougherty Family College students have come from more than 40 different high schools in the Twin Cities area. Tuition costs $15,000 for the Dougherty Family College this year, but financial aid for the students has kept tuition as low as $1,000.

Donors, particularly the college’s namesakes Mike and Kathy Dougherty, have played a large role in making the college affordable for students. The Dougherty family’s major gift helped the college open, and the school was named in their honor.

Mike and Kathy Dougherty graduated St. Thomas and the College of St. Catherine respectively in the 1960s. They attended the Oct. 13 dedication and participated in the ribbon cutting.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar also spoke at the dedication. Sullivan introduced Klobuchar as a big supporter of educational opportunity in Minnesota and beyond.

“This is exactly what our state needs,” Klobuchar said about the Dougherty Family College.


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Category: Local News

  • DD

    Separate but equal? Why can’t St. Thomas just open their doors to these students at their regular campus and give them substantial scholarships? Why set up a parallel institution for non-white students?

    • Dominic Deus

      Dominic Deus here. DD, I must have missed something. What does non-white have to do with it? The story is pretty clear that the driving force is economic and, of course, the obvious, but discretely unstated generosity, of the Doughertys’. Many thanks to them!

      But perhaps I missed your point; tell me more about what you think.

    • UST Alumni

      Because many of these students wouldn’t be able to handle the rigors of the undergraduate program at this stage in their academic development. The new college gives them the opportunity to grow academically and transfer if they do well.

      • Charles C.

        If students have to grow academically in order to be ready to handle college, it sounds like UST has just created a two year High School program (or at least High School as it was meant to be).

        But, wait. They’ll be getting a two-year college degree at the end of it, so they must be successfully doing undergraduate college work. Either that, or the Associates degree from the Dougherty Family College is really just a very glorified High School diploma.