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University of St. Thomas
University of St. Thomas (Houston) seal.png
Motto Educating Leaders of Faith and Character
Established 1947
Type Private
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
Endowment $53 mil. (approx.) (June 2008)
President Dr. Robert Ivany
Faculty 273 (Fall 2008)
Students 3246 (Fall 2008)
Undergraduates 1750 (Fall 2008)
Postgraduates 1496 (Fall 2008)
Location Houston, Texas, USA
29°44′18″N 95°23′30″W / 29.738207°N 95.391576°W / 29.738207; -95.391576Coordinates: 29°44′18″N 95°23′30″W / 29.738207°N 95.391576°W / 29.738207; -95.391576
Campus Urban, 19 blocks
Colors Red and Gold           
Nickname UST, St. Thomas
Mascot Celts
Affiliations NAIA

The University of St. Thomas (also referred to as UST or St. Thomas) in Houston, Texas, United States is a comprehensive Catholic university, grounded in the liberal arts. Founded by 1947 by Basilian Fathers, it serves as the only Catholic university in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.



The University of St. Thomas around 2008
Street signs around the campus

On June 24, 1944, the Bishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, Christopher E. Byrne, entered into an agreement with the Houston based members of the Congregation of St. Basil to found a co-educational Roman Catholic university in Houston, Texas "as soon as practicable after the War, if possible by 1947."[1] The Basilian Fathers had previously started several other secondary schools, as well as institutions of higher learning, throughout Texas in the early 20th Century, including St. Thomas High School, also located in Houston.[2] The first classes at UST began on September 22, 1947 with 57 freshmen and 8 faculty members.[3] UST graduated its first class on May 31, 1951.[1]

The University is named after St. Thomas Aquinas. Originally consisting solely of the Link-Lee Mansion on the corner of Montrose and West Alabama, the University has expanded towards the South and West over the last 60 years, establishing itself as a notable landmark in Houston with over 17,000 graduates. The current expansion plan includes the acquisition and development of the majority of the land comprising 25 city blocks.

Former University President J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. was appointed on November 25, 2003 by the Pope to preside as Secretary of the Congregation of Catholic Education. By virtue of this office, Miller was elevated to Archbishop by Pope John Paul II on January 12, 2004.[4]


The University of St. Thomas is located in the Montrose neighborhood. The campus is north of Houston's Museum District and is adjacent to the famous Menil Collection and the Rothko Chapel. The campus is located within five miles of The Galleria, Texas Medical Center, Downtown Houston's Theater District, Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, George R. Brown Convention Center, Reliant Stadium and the Houston Zoo.

Many of the University's departments office out of houses built in 1930s that are scattered throughout campus. Some of the buildings are historic including the Link-Lee Mansion, once the largest home in Houston which is currently the home of the University's executive office, and Hughes House, the childhood home of Howard Hughes, housing the Theology department.


Academic Mall

Academic Mall, with the Chapel of St. Basil on one end, at night

The campus is arranged in a square format, with the main focus of buildings on the north side of the campus which is called the Academic Mall. Composed of rectangular buildings, the Academic Mall is the symbolic architecture of Philip Johnson. The use of Johnson as the University's architect spawned mild controversy due to the noted architect's open homosexuality and his flirtation with fascism and atheism which clashed with the teachings of the Catholic Church. This controversy has died down and mostly been forgotten.

On the south end of the Academic Mall is the Doherty Library, while the Chapel of St. Basil is located at the opposite end. Four structures flank these two buildings on each side in a rectangular formation surrounding a courtyard. The setup is designed to display the methods of human knowledge (faith, represented by the Chapel, and reason, represented by the library) in dialogue regarding the various subject matters (represented by the other buildings, most of which are specialized in one or two subjects).

Chapel of St. Basil

Chapel of St. Basil, including a view of the labrynth

The Chapel of St. Basil is the main location of Catholic worship on campus. It is categorized by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as a satellite chapel of St. Anne's Catholic Church.

The Chapel of St. Basil is a unique work of art that has won many awards for its architecture.[5] Named after St. Basil the Great, a fourth century bishop who was a proponent of both education and the monastic life, the Chapel sits at the north end of the Academic Mall, representing faith in the Academic Mall's artistic depiction between balance and faith, and reason in dialogue.

The Chapel includes a fascinating play on light, as there is no artificial light inside the main section of the building during the daytime. There is sufficient sunlight to fully light the worship space, as a combination of smooth textures and reflective surfaces maximize all light shone in the building. At night, the lights from outside combined with candles inside the Chapel are more than enough to illuminate the worship area.

A setup of the architecture also shifts the focus the building. The entry to the outdoor narthex of the Chapel is created with a tent-like flap extending over the entry, creating an enclosed space that is still outdoors. The entrances to the Chapel are faced away from the center of the building and towards the tabernacle as a reminder to all the enter that the central point of the Chapel is not the altar or the crucifix, but rather the location of the Eucharist.

During the 2005-2006 school year, the Gueymard Meditation Garden was built on the west side of the Chapel, featuring a labyrinth, three fountains (meant to represent the persons of the Trinity), and benches for reflection. The garden features a replica of the Cathedral of Chartres in labyrinth in France. Seen from above, the four arms of the pattern stand out as a clear image of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Doherty Library

Completed in September 1972, The Robert Pace and Ada Mary Doherty Library (located at the southern end of the Academic Mall) is one of the premier research libraries in Houston. Housing over 230,000 books, 30,000 periodicals, and 125 databases, the Doherty Library has earned an "A" rating from the American Library Association, the highest possible rating for a library or any other research institution.[6][7]

Students and alumni

The Link-Lee Mansion

The University currently maintains a population of 1,750 traditional undergraduate students and 1,496 graduate students. Adding to this number are non-traditional, off-campus, study-abroad, special program, and seminary students that bring the grand total to 3,246 students.

UST has many diverse ethnicities, as 54% of the total number of students are African-American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian. UST is the only private, Hispanic-serving institution of higher education in Houston, TX;[8] to earn this rating from the U.S. Department of Education, UST maintains a student body that is at least 25% Hispanic. 65% of the total enrollment is Catholic. University students come from 40 states throughout the U.S. as well as 59 countries around the world.

Costs and financial aid

For the 2009-2010 academic year, undergraduate tuition costs for the University are set at $717 per credit hour. Total estimated cost of undergraduate tuition and fees is $20,510 for one-year (30 credit hours). Room and board costs are $7,700 for one year, bringing a total cost of approximately $28,000.

Graduate tuition for the 2008-2009 academic year is $753 per hour. For one-year of graduate school (18 credit hours) with fees added, the total tution cost is $13,778.

86% of first-time freshmen receive financial assistance for their undergraduate education at UST. The University awards nearly $22 million in financial aid annually, including $7 million in UST-funded scholarships and grants. Upon admission to UST, students are automatically considered for a scholarship, ranging from $5,000 to $12,000, using information from the admissions application. Scholarships are based on high school GPA, class ranking and SAT/ACT scores.

The University awards a few select students full tuition scholarships annually. The V.J. Guinan Presidential Full Tuition Scholarship is open to Catholic students that meet specific academic requirements. Recipients are required to join UST’s Presidential Ambassadors and be active in Campus Ministry.

Special programs

UST offers several special programs within its curriculum, consisting of undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and special preparation programs.

Center For Thomistic Studies

The Philosophy Department of the University of St. Thomas offers masters and doctoral degrees in Philosophy, specializing in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and his commentators. In addition, professors in the department publish works on thomist philosophy in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame press.

Pre-Health Professional Programs

The University offers a strong pre-health undergraduate program with a liberal arts foundation. Graduates experience high interview and acceptance rates to medical and dental schools. Advisors are very involved from the First Year Experience to preparing for the MCAT or DAT. UST offers pre-dental, pre-medical, pre-optometry, pre-pharmacy, pre-physical therapy, pre-physician assistant and pre-veterinary medicine.

Engineering Cooperative Program

University has cooperative agreements with Texas A&M University, the University of Houston and the University of Notre Dame. Students earn a BA degree in mathematics from the University of St. Thomas and a BS degree in engineering at the cooperative institution. During the three years at UST, students complete an individualized plan of study that combines a broad liberal arts background with the prerequisites for the program at the chosen school. The UST cooperative engineering program has a 100% acceptance rate.

Pre-Law Program

The University also maintains a pre-law program. Much like the pre-health professional programs, the pre-law program is not a major in itself, but is rather an additional program which can be combined with any major. Pre-law students enroll in required pre-law courses that help prepare for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), Socratic examination and case briefing. To support UST students in applying to law school, the University participates in a cooperative admission program with South Texas College of Law.

Cameron School of Business

The Cameron School of Business is home to about 300 undergraduate and about 560 graduate students. The school offers a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with majors in Accounting, Finance, General Business and Marketing; Master of Business Administration (MBA); Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) and five-year BBA/MBA. The Cameron School of Business and its programs are accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business School and Programs (ACBSP).

School of Education

At the undergraduate level, the School of Education offers programs in general education from pre-K through high school, bilingual education, and exceptionality.

In addition to its undergraduate programs, the School of Education offers several masters level programs. One such program is directed towards Catholic educators. Following their undergraduate career, students enter into a two-year rotation in a masters program in conjunction with the University's Gulf Regional Association of Catholic Educations (GRACE) program. Over the two-years, students live in community as they learn skills needed in the classroom. All students are given a temporary teaching job for practical experience, most of which become permanent jobs during the school term following their completion of the program.

UST also offers programs for teacher certification. Transition to Teaching allows students with a bachelors degree to complete a few graduate classes to teach in Catholic or public schools. All Transition to Teaching classes can be used as part of a graduate degree upon completion of formal graduate admission.

Glassell School of Art

The UST Department of Fine and Performing Arts and the Glassell School of Art at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts collaborate in offering BA and BFA majors, a minor and elective courses in Studio Art. This joint effort gives UST students access to the resources of the Glassell School and to instruction offered by the artists on its faculty while receiving credit at the University towards a degree.[9]

Mendenhall Achievement Center

The Mendenhall Achievement Center, established in 2008, provides a professional support team to assist students in achieving their goals while enrolled at UST. Services include advising, mentoring, tutoring and counseling. Additionally, the Mendenhall Summer Institute is a five-week program that allows incoming freshmen to complete six credit hours before their freshman year.[10]

Study Abroad

The Institute for International Education Exchange has consistently ranked UST as one of the top 20 master’s schools in the United States for study abroad participation by undergraduate students.[11] The University sends approximately 8-10% of its undergraduate student body abroad compared to the national average of 2%.


In Fall 2006, the NAIA informed UST that its application to join had been accepted, bringing varsity intercollegiate athletics back to campus for the first time in 20 years.[12] On November 7, 2006, University administrators announced that beginning in 2007, UST would field both a women's volleyball team and men's soccer team to compete as members of the Association of Independent Institutions (AII). They hope to eventually join the Red River Athletic Conference, pending acceptance of its application to be admitted to the conference. In the 2009-2010 academic year, UST plans to add men's basketball. [13]

Student Life

Residential housing

Guinan Hall

The University has two types of campus housing.

Guinan Residence Hall under the direction of Residence Life is a three-story, 306-bed facility with private double-occupancy rooms. It is located near the Moran Parking Center and Crooker Center, and provides a residential experience focused on community living.

Young Hall, located on the south side of campus, is also encompassed in Residence Life and offers apartments to upper-class students and graduate or adult students who want to benefit from a Residence Life community.


An annual tradition dating back more than 50 years is the "Neewollah" Party (Halloween spelled backwards) held every year in October. Hundreds of students dress up in costume and party as various local bands and DJ's alternate providing music. Students compete in costume and dance contests winning a variety of prizes. The event draws about 600 people and is held on Crooker Patio, a large area in front of the University's dining hall.

Crawfish Boil and Zydeco Fest

On April 19, 2002 the University of St. Thomas Black Student Union held its first Crawfish Boil and Zydeco Fest featuring Step Rideaux and the Zydeco Outlaws. It has since become an annual event. The event features music and entertianment while providing an excellent opportunity for recreation and fellowship. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the surrounding community enjoy imported crawfish, corn and potatoes and a Zydeco dance contest.

Other Campus Events

  • Oktoberfest
  • I-FEST Celebration
  • Cinco de Mayo Celebration
  • Spring Formal
  • St. Augustine's Birthday Celebration
  • UST Family Weekend
  • ECOS Earth Day Celebration
  • Founders' Day Celebration

Student Organizations

The Student Organizations Committee is a collective of student leaders from five major organizations that oversee many areas of student life. There is no presiding officer of the SOC. All SOC members have an administrative or faculty adviser. SOC members are allowed to petition for operating budgets before other organizations and/or clubs can request funds for the following school year.

Members of the SOC

  • The Student Government Association is the legislative student body at UST. The senate body consists of up to four representatives from each class (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate) who are elected into office. An executive board led by an elected president and an elected vice president oversee the SGA. The SGA president can appoint a secretary, treasurer, historian, parliamentarian, and webmaster. The SGA's main function is to allocate funds collected by the Student Activity Fee. It holds regular meetings every Tuesday in the Council of Clubs meeting room in Crooker Center.
  • The Student Activities Board is the main programming organization at UST. SAB is led by an elected president and an elected vice president. It is responsible for planning traditional events like Neewollah and Spring Formal, as well as occasional open mic and monthly bingo nights.
  • The Council of Clubs is an umbrella organization that represents clubs on campus. It is led by an elected chair and an appointed vice chair. The COC provides funding for various clubs at UST. Interested clubs may request membership into the COC and may be approved with a simple majority vote by eligible clubs, called the board of directors.
  • The Sport Clubs Associations is responsible for the sport clubs on campus. It is led by an elected president. Like the COC, it is an umbrella organization that funds athletic-oriented clubs and teams at UST.
  • The Graduate Student Association is responsible for representing and catering to the graduate students of UST, which make up about 40% of the student body. In addition to helping integrate graduate students with the campus, it provides independent programming open to both graduates and undergraduates.

Non-SOC Organizations

The University acknowledges 69 student organizations, most of which fall within SOC jurisdiction, but other organizations are overseen by other departments of the University. Honor Societies and Academic Clubs are often overseen by their departments, but some seek COC approval for financial purposes. Other organizations are under the directorship of administrative offices such as Campus Ministry.[14]

Amongst the student organizations beyond the scope of the SOC are the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Legion of Mary, and over 20 department-run honor societies.


  • The Summa is the student-run newspaper serving the UST community. It is led by a student editor-in-chief as well as various section editors and staff members. The staff is responsible for producing the paper, which is published on the first Friday of every month during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Laurels literary magazine publishes poems, short fiction, and other creative writing submitted by enrolled students. It is led by three appointed editors. During the fall, the three editors are responsible for the administration and editing of the issue. However, a curriculum-approved Literary magazine class, in cooperation with the editors, is responsible for the spring issue.
  • Thoroughfare magazine is the newest publication on campus. Modeled after The New Yorker as a "features" magazine, it highlights students, organizations, events, places, and local occurrences in Houston. It is led by an appointed student editor-in-chief with the help of a student staff.





External links


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