The corporate mission statement of Santo Tomás is: “Educate individuals with a level of preparation and values such that will enable them to perform and contribute honestly, efficiently and with quality and social accountability to the development of their family and community.”
It follows that to make this mission statement come true we have to work with and for the community. More specifically, the educational projects of Universidad Santo Tomás, the Santo Tomás Vocational Center and the Santo Tomás Professional Institute, point to the need to forge strong ties with the community.
To this end, the Community Relations Department was created in 2012, which from the start has lent support to various players in the Santo Tomás educational community, with resources to conduct community-oriented activities, through an annual competitive bid for the allocation of funds. It is aimed at strengthening the community ties created by Santo Tomás branches and schools.
The Community Relations Policy approved by decree No. 014/13 of the National President’s Office, dated April 26, 2013, provides general guidelines for community relations activities under by Santo Tomás institutions. This Policy classifies community relations activities into six broad areas:
- Outreach activities
- Corporate communications
- Services and technical assistance
- Research and development
- Learning – service, and
- Extension education
As a reflection of the social commitment undertaken by Santo Tomás with the community, two academic entities have been created, which report to the Training and Identity Department, one of the primary thrusts of which is to engage in outreach activities:
Center for Thomist Studies (CET)
Training, research and outreach center devoted to the study and dissemination of the philosophy and life message of Saint Thomas Aquinas, open to the national higher-learning community, primarily drawing inspiration on the knowledge and spread of basic truths about God, man and the world, in the spirit of discipline and openness for which Saint Thomas himself was mostly known.
Berit Family Institute
It is Training, research and outreach center centered on marriage and the family, based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. It reports to the Training and Identity Department of Universidad Santo Tomás and participates in the International Berit Institute, promoted by the Crusaders of Saint Mary Secular Institute.
At Universidad Santo Tomás Viña del Mar, the first Confucius Institute in Chile was inaugurated in 2008, representing a new stage in the relationship of this institution with the People’s Republic of China, established after a long process of app. 10 years, including visits, meetings and trust building between Saint Thomas, the government and universities in China, generating cooperation and mutual exchange ties.
The Confucius Institute reports to the Office of the International Council for the Chinese language, Hanban, of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. In its local version, this nonprofit entity is centered on offering Mandarin classes, taught by native Chinese teachers, supplemented with multimedia classes and remote support via internet, addressed to both the internal Santo Tomás community as well as on the outside public who wish to be a part of this program. It focuses language teaching on the specific requirements of well-defined areas such as tourism, trade, finance and medicine, among others.
In this endeavor, the IC UST has received recognition from the Municipality of Viña del Mar for its valuable contribution to the realization of the Chinese Cultural Week in October 2011; and from the City Council of Valparaíso, for the dissemination of Chinese culture and friendship between China and the Valparaíso Region in October 2013.
The Confucius Institute of our university has been awarded three times as one of the 20 best CI worldwide in 2009, 2010 and in 2013, during the Conference of Confucius Institutes in Beijing. At the same time, in 2009, the President of Santo Tomás University was designated member of the Superior Council of Hanban for 2 years, being at present honorary member of such Council.
Another important recognition was presented to Roberto Lafontaine, Director of International Projects at Santo Tomás, who was awarded with the Confucius Institute Individual Performance Award 2014 for his performance and support to the work of this institution in Chile and Latin America.
In year 2015 the Confucius Institute of UST was honored to receive the ‘Model Confucius Institute’ award by the central office of the Confucius Institutes at a ceremony attended by over two thousand people.