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JPII Institute Gains Momentum


With her thoughtful gift of land valued at $200,000, Dr. Ewa Thompson is leading the way to put UST’s Saint John Paul II Institute on stable and sustainable ground.

Dr. Thompson, professor emeritus of Slavic Studies at Rice University, and her late husband James, served as faculty at Rice University for 40 years. Dr. Thompson attended events and met the director of UST’s JPII Institute when it was established. Her gift supports operating expenses and the long-term operation of the Institute.

Dr. Thompson was born in Lithuania and is one of the top scholars of Slavic studies in the United States. Her philanthropic support for the JPII Institute will give new life to the Slavic studies work she holds dear — especially exploring Polish history and culture. 

“Professor Ewa Thompson’s generosity will help the Institute to share the gifts of this great pope,” UST President Richard Ludwick said. “Her commitment to, and passion for, the richness of Polish society and its lasting contribution to our world is remarkable and will continue to inspire.”

Dr. John Hittinger, director of the JPII Institute, said the gift will help provide a deeper connection to the culture of the modern pope. 

“Her gift shows the way forward, with the support of the community, to achieving our goals of becoming an outstanding testament to the study of John Paul II in the context of Polish history and culture,” Hittinger said. 

Dr. Thompson believes the legacy of John Paul II Institute is not just a legacy of another pope. 

“There have been quite a few popes, but not every pope leaves the stream of wisdom that John Paul II has left,” she said. “By studying his features of civility — spiritual and physical — and his ability to relate to the individual, we can bring back these qualities for all.”

Graduate students can comprehensively study the thought of the philosopher pope, including all of his 14 encyclicals, with a Master of Arts in John Paul II Studies. This online program includes a capstone course with travel to Poland.  

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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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