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Throwback Thursday: University timeline, part 2

Throwback Thursday: University timeline, part 2

Next month marks the 135th anniversary of St. Thomas' founding and its first year of academic classes, back in 1885.

Our university's main campus still sits on the same plot of land in St. Paul where it welcomed that first wave of students. Students in 1885 enrolled at a time where our country had just 38 states, and with President Grover Cleveland in his first year in the White House.

As St. Thomas has grown and evolved on so many fronts, it has stayed true to its original mission of education.

When looking at old photos you can recognize familiar campus landmarks that are still at the core of our identity. At the same time, you see the dramatic change and progress leading to today's status as a regional university and soon-to-be Division I institution.

For those of us who think history is cool, let's enjoy a quick stroll down memory lane as we revisit significant St. Thomas moments.

Last week's Throwback Thursday listed key memories from our first 99 years, through 1984. Today's list showcases our explosion of progress over the last 35 years:



University of St. Thomas and Athletics Timeline (1985 to present)

1985: Master's degree program established in software design and development

1985: Men's Indoor Track and Field wins NCAA championship

1986: Men's Cross Country wins second NCAA championship in a three-year span

1986: Master's degree program established in manufacturing engineering

1987: Business courses offered for first time downtown Minneapolis (Powers Building)


1990: Name changed from College of St. Thomas to University of St. Thomas

1991: Leapin' Leonard Jones wins first of his nine NCAA individual championships in track and field

1991: Women's Basketball wins NCAA championship (our only NCAA title captured on campus)

1991: St. Thomas concludes Century II campaign, raising $83 million (original goal $35 million)


1991: Rev. Dennis Dease starts 21-year tenure as college president

1992: Minneapolis Campus Building (now Terrence Murphy Hall) opens as first building on Minneapolis campus

1996: Center for Catholic Studies opens; its Catholic Studies major is among first in nation

1997: St. Thomas opens Frey Science and Engineering Center, comprised of O'Shaughnessy and Owens science halls, three years after receiving $15.5 million in federal funds

1997: Women's track and field wins 4x100 relay at NCAA Championships, first relay win by any Minnesota women's team

1997: Women's Hockey teams with St. Catherine athletes to form a co-varsity team; both sponsor first solo teams in 1998-99

1998: Morrison Hall (residence hall), including first underground parking ramp, opens

1998: St. Thomas establishes a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering; only private college or university in Minnesota with undergraduate engineering programs

1999: Opus Hall opens on the Minneapolis campus for the School of Education


2000: Bernardi Campus in Rome opens

2000: Men's Hockey reached Final Four for first time in program history

2000: Baseball repeats as NCAA team runner-up 

2001: Baseball wins NCAA team championship, first of seven NCAA team championships for Tommies from 2001-2016

2001: St. Thomas School of Law opens

2001: Redesigned Tommie mascot costume debuts, mascot role expanded

2001: St. Thomas concludes Ever Press Forward campaign, eight-year effort that raised $250 million (doubling goal of $120 million)

2001: St. Thomas establishes a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering

2003: New law school building opens in downtown Minneapolis

2003: Tommie hockey moves practices and games into new Saint Thomas Academic rink in Mendota Heights

2004: Softball is second Minnesota university team to win an NCAA team title -- both coached by John Tschida

2004: First artificial turf field added on campus for football

2004: School of Engineering formed and undergraduate and graduate programs are integrated

2005: Men's Hockey is NCAA runner-up for second time in five years

2005: Softball repeats at NCAA champion

2005: Women's Track and Field has two different athletes win NCAA long jump championships: Kristal Grigsby, indoors in March, and Andretta Colley, outdoors in May

2005: Selby Residence Hall opens, and includes underground parking

2005: Schulze Hall opens in Minneapolis as the home for the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship

2006: McNeely Hall opens for business programs, and includes underground parking

2006: St. Thomas names its business programs the Opus College of Business

2006: Koch Diamond opens for Baseball with turf infield

2007: St. Thomas launches Opening Doors campaign (eight-year effort exceeds goal, raises $515 million)

2007: Women's Golf takes fifth place at NCAA meet, program best

2009: Baseball wins its second NCAA team championship of the decade

2009: Men's Track and Field wins 4x100 and 4x400 relays at NCAA Championships, takes third place overall

2009: O'Shaughnessy Hall athletics building closes down after 70 years, shortly after final home swim meet is held


2010: $52 million Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex opens on campus

2011: Men's Basketball wins its first NCAA championship

2012: $66 million Anderson Student Center opens on campus

2012: Tommie Volleyball is NCAA champion

2012: Football is NCAA runner-up and plays live on national TV in both semifinals and Stagg Bowl game

2013: Dr. Julie Sullivan named first layperson and first female president

2013: Turf field replaces grass on south campus for Softball and Soccer teams

2014: Women's Hockey reaches first Final Four in program history

2015: Football is NCAA runner-up and has two live national TV playoff games for second time in four years

2016: Men's Basketball wins NCAA championship in fifth season under Coach John Tauer

2016: Emma Paulson wins three NCAA individual titles in swimming

2016: Men's Golf ties for fifth place at NCAA meet, program best

2016: Women's Track and Field wins third NCAA relay championship in eight years, all in distance medley relay

2016: Men's Soccer reaches first Final Four in program history

2017: Emma Paulson receives university's 100th all-time CoSIDA Academic All-America honor


2017: Dougherty Family College opens on Minneapolis campus

2017: School of Engineering begins offering a civil engineering program, making St. Thomas the only private school in Minnesota to offer a BS degree in civil engineering

2017: North campus athletic facility upgrades completed (Football turf; track resurfaced; baseball infield turf and new seating)

2017: Tommie-Johnnie game at Target Field – first football game played in the facility -- breaks Division III attendance record (37,000-plus)

2018: Steve Fritz announces retirement as athletics director, ends 52-year affiliation as player, assistant coach, head coach and athletics director

2018: College of Health created (renamed Morrison Family College of Health in 2019)

2019: Phil Esten started tenure as VP and Director of Athletics

2019: Women's Hockey ranked No. 1 nationally first time in program history, plays host to Division III Final Four

2019: Women's Basketball advances to its third Final Four in last eight seasons

2019: Softball reaches national tournament finals for third time in six seasons

2019: St. Thomas surpasses 500 MIAC team championships (regular season and playoffs)

2019: St. Thomas involuntary removed from MIAC, effective summer 2021; search process begins to assess new conference options

2019: St. Thomas Health Services Center moves into expanded facility

2019: St. Thomas receives invitation to join Division I Summit League for 19 of its 22 sports, pending NCAA approval, effective fall 2021

2019: Tommie-Johnnie game at Allianz Field – first American football game played in the facility – attracts sell-out crowd of 19.500

2019: Women's Soccer ties for fifth in nation, loses shootout tie-breaker in national quarterfinals


2020: Men's Basketball ranked No. 2 in nation after 13-game mid-season winning streak, ends year 26-3 and ranked No. 4 after two NCAA playoff wins when Covid-19 shuts down season

2020: Joe Sweeney wins 85th MIAC team championship of his 40-year era (cross country plus indoor and outdoor track and field) -- most among all Division III women's sport coaches 

2020: Center for Well-Being opened

2019-2020: First year residence hall and North residence hall constructed

2019-2020: Iversen Center for Faith constructed

2020: Covid outbreak shuts down in-person learning and campus activities, as well as the end of winter and spring sports seasons; most fall sports moved to spring 2021

2020: NCAA approves waiver to allow St. Thomas to make rare direct move from Division III to Division I affiliation, with competition starting in fall 2021

2020: St. Thomas accepts invitations to join WCHA Women's Hockey, CCHA Men's Hockey and Pioneer Football League for those sports to go with 19 sports in Summit League

2020: St. Thomas starts final academic year in Division III and MIAC

2020: University reached halfway point of $100 million fund raising goal of new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) complex on St. Paul's south campus, with ground breaking set for spring 2022