A brief experience with Thomas Keefe

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Photo by Valeria Reyna.

It is my belief that the University of Dallas is not a perfect place. The Mall is paved over dimples, there aren’t enough cats on campus and danishes are only served when prospective students visit. But these issues are trivial compared to the lack of communication between the administration and the general population on campus.

Speaking of a lack of communication, the groundhog, or lack of, in the room — President Thomas Keefe’s sudden removal — needs to be addressed.

Last week, I was sitting in politics when I heard about Keefe’s removal from a friend. I was in disbelief, until I read the email that had been sent out to inform us. I read the email and was mildly insulted due to the lack of justification given, but the real thing that bothered me was the realization that I never shook Keefe’s hand even though I wanted to.

Keefe, the former welcoming face, had convinced me to commit to UD despite my insecurities as a first-generation college student with immigrant parents, and he can no longer do the same for others.

During my first visit as a prospective student, my mother and I arrived at UD wearing clothes we had bought at the thrift store a day before. In Haggar, I received a packet of information, a free Cap Bar drink coupon and a name tag. At the Cap Bar, my mother and I sat down at one of the little tables and talked in order to pass the time before breakfast — which included danishes — was served.

We spoke in Spanish about the school and everything it could offer me. I was excited, and the uneasiness I had felt was waning until the father of a family that was sitting next to me looked me in the eye and loudly said, “I don’t know how some of these people got a scholarship.” I was disgusted at the apparently racist remark, but I feared that I would receive more of these comments if I attended UD.

It wasn’t until I heard Keefe speak that I felt assured of my place here at UD. In his welcoming speech, Keefe assured parents that he would treat all students like his own children, and that all students had a place here at UD. It is my belief that Keefe reflected the kind and encouraging attitude I see in people throughout UD.

In this situation, Keefe was the voice of UD instead of some random man. I was looking forward to conversing with Keefe as a journalist getting information, or as a student suggesting ideas, such as a live mascot or consistent danishes on campus.

If his removal was necessary in order to preserve the integrity of the campus, then I would understand. However, since his voice has removed without any explanation, we are left in a sort of identity crisis.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Valeria,

    Just a word from an alum, everyone deserves their place at UD and whatever scholarship or not that anyone has is nobody else’s business. I am sorry someone made you feel unwelcome here and I hope you have had a chance to thrive here.

    I also felt like Keefe could have been great for a lot of the reasons you have described here; he really did try very hard to make students feel like he cared. He ultimately did fall well short of expectations if you ask someone like me, but I do appreciate his work at UD and his better qualities will be missed if his successor is not up to the task.

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