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New President to be Inaugurated at Thomas Aquinas College

Former Dean to Lead College

SANTA PAULA, CA-February 8, 2010 - Dr. Michael F. McLean will be inaugurated as the fourth president of Thomas Aquinas College on Saturday, February 13, 2010. The day will begin with a Mass of the Holy Spirit at 10:00 a.m. in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. The ordinary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, will be the principal celebrant; Bishop Thomas Curry of the Santa Barbara region will concelebrate the Mass along with a number of priests from Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties as well as some of the college's graduates who have entered the priesthood.

The installation ceremony, at which Cardinal Mahony will preside, is scheduled for 12:00 noon, also in the school's new chapel. Extending greetings to Dr. McLean and the college will be President Christopher B. Nelson of St. John's College, Annapolis; Dr. John P. O'Callaghan, president of the Jacques Maritain Center at the University of Notre Dame; Brother Mel Anderson, F.S.C., president emeritus of St. Mary's College of California; and Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M, president of The Catholic University of America.

Following these speakers, Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr. R. James Wensley, will charge Dr. McLean with the duties of his new office and then invest him as president, bestowing on him the president's silver chain of office. Dr. McLean will then make a profession of faith and take the Oath of Fidelity, making public his intention that both he and the college he now leads will remain loyal to the Holy Father and faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Mahony will follow with an Episcopal Greeting, after which Dr. McLean will give the inaugural response.

As a sign of the way in which a president is selected at Thomas Aquinas, Dr. McLean will process and be seated with the faculty at the inauguration ceremony until the past presidents of the college, Dr. Ronald P. McArthur and Mr. Peter L. DeLuca, call him forward to be installed as president.

Explains Mr. Wensley, "The Board of Governors of Thomas Aquinas College is, perhaps, unique in being directed by our polity and by-laws to appoint a president from among the teaching faculty of the college. This method was established in the late 1960s by our founders in an effort to ensure that, down through the generations, Thomas Aquinas College would maintain the unique character of its academic program, its discipleship to the Church's Universal Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, and its authentically Catholic character. The founders were convinced that no one could better achieve these goals than a tutor who had devoted his life to implementing the mission of the college on a daily basis in our classrooms." Mr. Wensley adds, "In fact, the polity also requires the president to continue teaching at least one class, even as the leads the college."

Unable to attend the inauguration ceremonies, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States and a long-time friend of Thomas Aquinas College, has sent his good wishes, saying, "Please be assured of my continual remembrance of the college in prayer. I will be in spiritual union with Thomas Aquinas College, especially for Dr. McLean's inauguration this coming February 13th, asking the Lord to bless him with all the graces needed for his leadership in a renewed spirit of wisdom and strength through the intercession of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity."

Commenting on the weekend ahead, Mrs. Anne Forsyth, Director of College Relations said, "We have planned a series of events to mark this historic moment for Thomas Aquinas College. There will be a private reception and dinner with the faculty on Thursday evening; an all-college dinner with students, staff, faculty, and members of the board on Friday evening; and a black-tie dinner on Saturday evening at the Ojai Valley Inn for benefactors, friends, and representatives of colleges and universities from around the region and the country. In addition, the college's alumni association is sponsoring a champagne brunch on Sunday in honor of Dr. McLean." Mrs. Forsyth noted, too, that "at the inauguration ceremonies, faculty and officials of the college as well as visiting college and university presidents will be dressed in colorful academic regalia, and the Presidio Brass Quintet will be on hand to provide festive music in keeping with nature of the day."

Reflecting on the past year at the college, Assistant to the Dean for Religious Affairs, Rev. Cornelius Buckley, S.J., said, "There has been great sorrow since the loss of our wonderful president of 18 years, Dr. Tom Dillon, last spring. We have also had a long period of transition, ably led by our interim president, Peter DeLuca. Now, the inaugural weekend is upon us. It will be a wonderful opportunity for the whole college community to renew its commitment to genuine Catholic liberal education, to rejoice in the great good that this college provides for the Church and our country, and to look forward with hope and confidence to the future under the leadership of President Michael McLean."


Michael F. McLean was born on January 31, 1947. He holds a BA in philosophy from Saint Mary's College of California and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. McLean was appointed to the faculty of Thomas Aquinas College in 1978 and has served as a tutor since that time. In addition, he has served as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Vice President for Development, and from 2003 until his appointment as president in October, 2009, as Dean of the College and as a member of its board of governors.

After graduating from St. Mary's College, Dr. McLean served one year as a Peace Corps Volunteer in St. Vincent, British West Indies. He then served another three years as an officer in the United States Coast Guard, with responsibilities for shipboard operations and rescue coordination.

A long-time resident of Santa Paula, California, Dr. McLean has been active in the local community and at his parish church, St. Sebastian. He is a co-founder of the Great Books Seminars in nearby Ojai, California, and has been a member and president of the board of directors of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California. Dr. McLean enjoys hiking, backpacking, classical music, opera, and gardening. He and his wife of 42 years, Lynda, are the parents of three children, and grandparents of four.