Ruth Thielke October 22nd, 2010

Tom and I were classmates at UMM entering in the freshman class of 1964. He was an outstanding student, majoring in history, but I'm guessing he did well in all his classes. In Jim Gremmels' year long sequence in the Intro to American Literature, I had two excellent study pals. The only parts of Gremmels' tests we had trouble with were the identification of obscure one-line quotations from the several required texts. That brought our grades into the A- or B+ range. We complained to Gremmels, but he explained there was a student who had no trouble identifying author, character, and name of the work: McRoberts. We weren't happy about our grades, but began to hold Tom in higher esteem. Tom and I worked together on many projects over the years while I was Registrar and he was an administrator in Continuing Education. Tom could face heated opponents in UMM's key committees with a disarming smile, or a light remark that would get even those engaged in the argument to laugh and begin to work together. Tom was able to identify our shared concerns and common goals so people on opposing sides would work arm in arm to help UMM become even better for students. We forged new territory in financial aid packaging at state and national levels to help UMM become a leader in the percentage of students studying abroad. Tom and I tried to be sure courses that were in high demand for general education could be packaged in alternative ways for students needing to graduate through his continuing education enrollment options. Although Tom wasn't excited about computerization, he made technology serve his students' needs, serving as the statewide director of distance learning for the University of Minnesota system during the time learning centers were being linked around the state with university faculty through TV and internet. The side of Tom I appreciated most, however, was his love and servanthood. Tom loved students, faculty, and staff, and made it his primary objective to find solutions for their problems if a solution could be found. Tom inspired people at all levels in higher education and the legislature and congress to find those solutions. I once said that Tom was very special. He could hold a person's heart without ever trying to hold their hand. He looked out for what was best for them, without trying to serve his own interests. We will certainly miss Tom McRoberts!