For more than 40 years, Thomas Aquinas College has drawn students from and sent graduates to communities throughout the United States. It has also formed a nationwide group of friends and benefactors. As a result, the College now boasts a substantial, thriving “diaspora” of alumni and other champions who bear witness to the virtues of Catholic liberal education in homes, schools, workplaces, and churches across the country.
Enter the Thomas Aquinas College Boards of Regents . Regents serve as the College’s ambassadors, making known the influence and good works of the College within their own communities, while at the same time inviting new members into the fold.
The first Board of Regents, which serves the Greater Los Angeles Area, was formed in 2004, but as the influence and reach of the College have grown, the desire for organization in other regions has arisen. Therefore, within the last year, the College has established three new boards — in New York, Washington, D.C., and Northern California — with more planned for the near future. Already, the Boards have worked diligently to raise the College’s profile and introduce it to new friends, sponsoring recent events in Alexandria, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
On April 21, the Washington, D.C., Board of Regents hosted its inaugural gathering at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, a 200-year-old establishment that was once the center of politics, business, and society in early Alexandria, frequented by such patrons as Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Lafayette. Some 115 Regents and their friends attended the event.
The evening consisted of two parts: First, alumnus vintner David O’Reilly (’87) organized a wine-tasting, featuring select bottles from his Owen Roe Winery in St. Paul, Ore. Then the invited speaker — Rev. Paul Scalia, the Bishop’s Delegate for Clergy for the Diocese of Alexandria — delivered a talk entitled, “The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI.” The Pope Emeritus has served a vital function in the history of the Church and our time, said Fr. Scalia, by “calling attention to the need to integrate faith and reason, and to not be limited to the scientism of the modern world.”
“Fr. Scalia gave an excellent talk in what was really the ideal location,” said College President Michael F. McLean. “We enjoyed good company, conversation, and drink in the very spot where some of the nation’s founders — and authors in the College’s curriculum — once did the same.” Added Rolfe Kratz (’97), Chairman of the D.C. Board of Regents, “Between alumni and other friends, the College has developed a strong community in the Washington, D.C., area. We all enjoyed the chance to come together, to share and to build a better understanding of the College. We can’t wait to do it again; it was truly a success!”
One month later, the Northern California Board of Regents and James P. Conn, a member of the College’s Board of Governors, hosted some 100 friends of the College at San Francisco’s Olympic Club at Lakeside. The gathering began, like the Alexandria event, with David O’Reilly (’87) conducting a wine-tasting. It then continued with a talk given by Msgr. Steven Otellini, pastor of the Church of the Nativity in nearby Menlo Park about the social criticism of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman . “We are very grateful to Monsignor for his remarks and for his support of Thomas Aquinas College,” said Dr. McLean.
Among those in attendance were the Archbishop of San Francisco, the Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, who praised the College for the important work it is doing in the Church and the nation today. “We were honored to have His Excellency with us,” said Dr. McLean. “Thomas Aquinas College has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the faithful in San Francisco, dating all the way back to our founding in San Rafael. So it was most fitting that their shepherd would be with us for this occasion.”
“The Northern California Board of Regents are delighted to have made new friends for the College through the Olympic Club event,” observed Chairman of the Northern California Board of Regents James Fahey (’94), who spoke of the shared commitment that united all those in attendance. “The College provides what the world needs most today: Classical liberal education. The formation students receive at Thomas Aquinas College gives a reason for hope in troubling times.”
Sherwood Country Club in Westlake Village, Calif., was the site of the seventh annual Thomas Aquinas College Golf Classic, hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Board of Regents on June 3. The Classic benefits the more than 70 percent of Thomas Aquinas College students who rely on assistance from the school’s student scholarship fund.
Sixty-six golfers participated in this year’s event, which was followed by a clubhouse awards ceremony and reception. Some of the College’s students were on hand at the reception to thank the attendees, and President Michael F. McLean and Greater Los Angeles Board of Regents Chairman Domiane Forte presented awards to the day’s winners.
“A beautiful day, a world-famous course, new and old friends — the same nagging slice,” joked Mr. Forte after playing 18 holes. “This year’s Classic was a great event, solidifying ties to the school and ensuring lower back pain for all.”
“I could not be more pleased with the work of our Boards of Regents,” says Vice President for Development Paul J. O’Reilly, who is the College’s liaison to the boards. “In three months, they have put on three great events. That is a testament to the energy and effort their members have put into getting the Boards operational and active. We are grateful for all they have done and all that they do.”
Not to be outdone, the New York Board of Regents is hard at work planning its next event, which it will host in Manhattan this fall. Meanwhile, three additional Boards are currently in the formative stages in the Pacific Northwest, Orange County, and the Midwest. If you are interested in joining one of the Boards of Regents, please contact Mr. O’Reilly by e-mail  or by telephone at 805-525-4417.
Posted: June 7, 2013