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Jim McIngvale Honored at 8th Annual Faithful Citizenship Award Dinner

Jim McIngvaleThe University of St. Thomas’ Donald S. Nesti CSSp Center for Faith and Culture honored Gallery Furniture owner and founder Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale at this year’s Eighth Annual Faithful Citizenship Dinner, chaired by Cathy and Joe Cleary. The dinner was held at the Houston Country Club on Oct. 4.

Each year, the Faithful Citizenship Award honors an individual who is the embodiment of service and humility, and who, led by the Holy Spirit, manifests the love of God in his life and actions as a Catholic.

As a philanthropist, McIngvale routinely expresses his devotion to the Catholic faith through acts of charity and service, including his support of countless organizations and families throughout Houston and beyond. These include his sponsorship of Pilgrimage of Faith, which sent 500 children and chaperones from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to Rome. More recently, McIngvale made national headlines during Hurricane Harvey for transforming his Houston furniture stores into shelters for flood victims and for using his stores’ moving trucks to rescue Houstonians trapped in their homes. He has since donated thousands of dollars, truckloads of furniture and countless hours of his time to helping Harvey victims rebuild their lives.

“We all have responsibilities for the well-being of our community,” said McIngvale, who recently announced he is transforming his larger stores to include community centers where Houstonians can find valuable resources and learn new skills. “If we help more people get new skills and better jobs, then everybody benefits.”

Doctorate in Ethical Leadership is Worth the Extra Mile

EdD Leadership SummitThe term “doctoral program” brings to mind a traditional picture of long, single-subject lectures and countless hours of research, alongside a daunting dissertation process. Dr. Ray Garcia, director of the Ed.D. in Ethical Leadership, had a vision in 2016 to break the traditional mold and create a three-year, technology-rich model that serves today’s educational practitioners and the ever-changing societal needs they encounter.

Ideal applicants look for a degree plan with opportunities to research and find answers that have an impact on their daily decisions. They aspire to address social justice issues through advocacy and action and become executive-level leaders in a variety of educational systems. Using a cohort format, students continually engage in discourse, bringing the topic completely into relevance and out of the theoretical.

While working on her doctorate, Kimberly Pursch, class of 2019, who completed her undergraduate degree at UST, has risen through the ranks from 5th grade math/science teacher at St. Laurence Catholic School to assistant superintendent of stewardship for the Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Likewise, Brooks Straub, another UST alumnus, transitioned from assistant principal at Lamar High School to director of schools for the West Area Schools Office for Houston Independent School District, a job that oversees 76 schools.

As education-related jobs continue to be a significant workforce in the Houston area, the University of St. Thomas is meeting the demand and the call for ethical leaders.

UST Welcomes Largest Freshman Class

Students on the UST campus

UST welcomes its largest incoming freshman class in the institution’s 71-year history. New student enrollment increased by 22 percent this year from 295 students to 350.

“We have a very dedicated and wonderful admissions team who really care about UST, its mission and the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Arthur Ortiz said. “We’re blessed to have a great team of faculty, advisors and staff who have all contributed to UST’s great reputation, and they’ve been a part of recruiting this class.”

Ortiz said the increase is due to a variety of factors such as the growing awareness of UST among prospective students. “We’ve done a good job of articulating why a college degree, especially a liberal arts one, is a worthwhile investment,” Ortiz said. “Since our core curriculum revolves around the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, we teach skills that are so important right now—critical thinking, effective writing, good communication and working collaboratively.”

Stats for the Incoming Class:

  • 59% Hispanic
  • 18% Asian-Pacific Islander
  • 15% Caucasian

“Our student body reflects the diversity of Houston,” Ortiz said. “It may be surprising to some that almost 25 percent of students come from households with annual incomes of $40,000 or less, and many of these are first-generation college students. Eighty-six percent of students receive financial aid.”

A continuing increase in student enrollment is one of the main areas of focus in the University’s Call Toward Tomorrow.

Bishop Oscar Cantu Named as Coadjutor Bishop of San Jose

Oscar CantuPope Francis named the Most Rev. Oscar Cantu ’94 as coadjutor bishop of San Jose, California. The appointment took place on July 11, 2018, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Cantu received his Master in Divinity and Master in Theology from UST in 1994 and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston in 1994. He spent his priestly career working in parishes throughout the Houston metropolitan area, and he taught at UST and St. Mary’s Seminary.

Team Receives Championship Rings

2017 UST Womens Soccer Team Receives Championship RingsThe UST Women’s Soccer Team gathered on Aug. 19 for the Red River Athletic Conference Championship Rings Presentation, the first ring ceremony in a 12-year history.

The team won the 2017 RRAC Tournament Championship and qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Tournament, placing the team as one of the top 32 teams in the nation. Both achievements are firsts for the Women’s Soccer program since its start in 2014. It is the 10th championship for the Athletics Department as a whole.

Twenty-nine student athletes, seven coaches and three support staff received rings. The ring features the name of its recipient and player’s number. Nine players were members of the 2014 inaugural team and returned for the ceremony. “Words can’t really explain how I feel,” Head Women’s Soccer Coach Nikola Barjaktarevic said. “I just wanted to thank you—for believing in yourself, your teammates, that it’s possible to do something special, and then working hard to achieve it!

The Rev. Kevin Storey Elected Superior General of the Congregation of St. Basil

Kevin StoreyThe Congregation of St. Basil elected the Rev. Kevin Storey, CSB, as superior general for a four-year term. The elections took place on July 16 as part of the Congregation’s General Chapter, held in King City, Ontario. Fr. Storey will serve as the Congregation’s 10th Superior General since its reunification in 1955.

Fr. Storey has served as the president of St. Thomas High School since 2012. He previously resided on the UST campus and served on the University’s Board of Directors. His new role as superior general will take him to Toronto, Ontario, site of the Basilian Curial Office.

Monaghan Organ Celebrated

Monaghan OrganDedicated 20 years ago in 1998, the organ housed in the Chapel of St. Basil on the campus of UST, was built by Schoenstein and Company, well-known for rebuilding the Mormon Tabernacle organ. The organ is a two-manual and pedal, electro pneumatic instrument, which means it uses electric wind and power. Thomas Crow, associate professor of history who is devoted to the organ, hosted a lecture/recital on Oct. 2 to celebrate the anniversary.

The lecture included a remembrance of the building process of the Chapel of St. Basil and its organ by Dr. Joseph McFadden, former president of UST. The faculty colloquium concluded with the performance of several pieces of organ music.

World Youth Day Cross and Marion Icon Travel to UST

World Youth Day CrossUST hosted the World Youth Day Cross and Marion Icon in the Chapel of St. Basil. These pilgrimage symbols travel the world and bring hope to many hearts leading up to World Youth Day in Panama.

“The cross means the love of Christ for human kind, he gave himself for us,” said the Rev. Justo Rivas, Panamanian priest in charge of the pilgrimage symbols. “The icon of Mary is a symbol of the disciple. We have to be the third symbol, by preserving the love of God.”


About the Author — Sandra Soliz, MLA '01 Soliz

AvatarSandra Soliz, director of Communications for University of St. Thomas, has served the University for 20 years in Marketing Communications Department. In her position, she handles media relations and serves as the editor of the Encounter Magazine.

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