Defining the heart of St. Mary’s University
by Lynda Ellis (B.A.S. ’81), Chair of the Board of Trustees
Nearly a dozen years of visionary leadership and unwavering dedication have reshaped St. Mary’s University under the guidance of President Thomas M. Mengler, J.D. — or simply “Tom” to those of us who have had the pleasure of getting to know him.
His tenure has been defined by a leadership approach transcending the ordinary and profoundly impacting the University’s students, staff, faculty and alumni. Tom’s legacy is a testament to his ability to build a strong team, nurture growth and fearlessly champion innovation.
Perhaps this is best demonstrated by the Center for Catholic Studies, created during his tenure. This dream became a reality by engaging students and deepening their faith and understanding of the gifts given though the grace of the Holy Spirit, helping our students become examples of God’s love.
A thoughtful leader, Tom’s authenticity radiates through his actions. His commitment to Marianist and Catholic values is not a mere formality; it’s a living embodiment in his everyday interactions.
Lynda Ellis (B.A.S. ’81)
“A thoughtful leader, Tom’s authenticity radiates through his actions. His commitment to Marianist and Catholic values is not a mere formality; it’s a living embodiment in his everyday interactions.”
His deep understanding of these values and their application to the University’s mission has been a compass that directs the St. Mary’s community toward ethical growth.
It’s said that one must “walk the talk,” which Tom models through his Catholic and Marianst values, whether in making tough decisions, guiding others through failures, proactively reaching out to extend his hand or simply being there.
These impacts extend beyond campus borders. His embrace of the wider community reflects his dedication to building bridges and nurturing relationships. He recognizes that a university’s vitality is interconnected with its surroundings, and his efforts have woven St. Mary’s into the fabric of San Antonio, especially the West Side.
For the members of the University’s Board of Trustees, Tom’s leadership has been transformative. With a discerning eye, he identifies opportunities and embraces feedback to drive trust and confidence. His meticulous approach and openness to learning from others have elevated the Board’s effectiveness, leaving an indelible mark on its members. Personally and professionally, I have benefited immensely from his leadership.
Lynda Ellis (B.A.S. ’81)
“There is no doubt Tom will leave a legacy that will continue to shape the University’s trajectory for years to come.”
I loved Tom’s comment about what being on the Board should be like for trustees, “It should be fun,” driving home his passion for enjoying getting things done and working as a team.
A one-of-a-kind fundraiser, Tom has shared his vision with such passion that donors have been drawn to the St. Mary’s mission. He doesn’t merely ask for support; he invites individuals to be part of a larger purpose. And nearly 11,500 donors heard his clarion call to contribute to The Defining Moment Comprehensive Campaign.
As Tom’s presidential tenure draws to a close, we celebrate his remarkable journey of leadership with this issue of Gold & Blue.
St. Mary’s University stands stronger and more deeply connected to its values and its community, all thanks to a man whose word is his bond, whose actions reflect unwavering integrity and whose vision ignited a collective spirit of growth.
There is no doubt Tom will leave a legacy that will continue to shape the University’s trajectory for years to come.