End of an era
by Nathaniel Miller
Not long after taking the position of president of St. Mary’s University, Thomas M. Mengler, J.D., was sharing his vision with the Board of Trustees when he quoted one of the most famous lines from the film Casablanca about how this was the beginning of a “beautiful friendship.”
That partnership of almost 12 years saw Mengler — the second most famous face of the University behind Rattler Man — sharing his vision with others while expanding on the University’s Catholic and Marianist traditions to continue educating servant leaders for future generations.
Now, the indefatigable Mengler will start a new chapter when he retires on May 31, 2024.
Since June 1, 2012, Mengler has guided the University through some of the biggest moments in its 171-year history: from overseeing the largest fundraising campaign in St. Mary’s history, creating more than a dozen new degrees and certificates, strengthening community ties in San Antonio and bolstering the University’s emphasis on integrating Catholic Intellectual Tradition into the educational experience.
In the last decade, a new residence hall, the foundation of the Blank Sheppard Innovation Center, a Drone Lab, and the additions of The Pub at St. Mary’s, the Contreras Family Terrace and Student Lounge, and Alkek Plaza have changed the layout of the campus. Additionally, faculty have received millions of dollars in grants to expand research efforts and help students prepare for their future careers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mengler’s decision-making and communication while navigating an unprecedented series of events have been widely praised by members of faculty and trustees alike.
Mengler, along with his wife, Mona Mengler, leave behind lasting memories for those they encountered, many of whom extol the couple’s accomplishments across these pages.
“True leadership is about being humble enough to serve others and strong enough to do what’s right,” said Martin Beirne (J.D. ’69), St. Mary’s Trustee Emeritus. “And that is Tom Mengler.”