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College Receives Ownership of
New England Property!

Posted: May 2, 2017

Video of the Signing Ceremony

Tuesday morning in Western Massachusetts’ historic Connecticut River valley marked, as President Michael F. McLean described it, “a monumental day in the history of Thomas Aquinas College.”

At a signing ceremony on the beautiful, onetime campus of a preparatory school in Northfield, Massachusetts, officials from the National Christian Foundation (NCF) formally transferred ownership of the property to Thomas Aquinas College. By God’s grace, and contingent upon the approval of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, the site will become the home of Thomas Aquinas College’s New England branch campus, which will open its doors to students in the fall of 2018.

“We are very, very grateful to the National Christian Foundation and to its leadership, especially Emmitt Mitchell and Larry Edge, for shepherding us through this process,” said Dr. McLean. “The opportunity here at Northfield presents Thomas Aquinas College with a chance to increase its reach and to increase the number of students who benefit from its education, and we are very grateful that the NCF has made this opportunity possible.”

In his former role as a member of the NCF’s Heartland Board of Governors, Mr. Mitchell oversaw the process by which the NCF selected Thomas Aquinas College — out of a pool of 153 initial inquiries — as the recipient of this historic campus. “I can tell you, I have never been so impressed, not only with the student body, but with the faculty and staff and their dedication to the mission. And these trustees … How can I say it? They love that institution,” he said. “I feel very confident that we are making an excellent choice.”

The ceremony took place in Olivia Music Hall, on the site of the erstwhile Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies, which the popular 19th century Protestant evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody established in 1879. In 1971 the Northfield school merged with another institution that Mr. Moody had founded, the Mount Hermon School for Boys, in the nearby town of Gill. The resulting coeducational institution, Northfield Mount Hermon, operated on both properties until consolidating to the Mount Hermon campus in 2005.

For the last 12 years, the Northfield campus has gone unoccupied, waiting for the day that it could be restored to its original mission of providing affordable, Christian education for young adults. In granting the campus to Thomas Aquinas College, said Mr. Mitchell, the NCF is choosing an entity that “has a mission similar to Moody’s, which was to educate young people in a fashion that they can make a difference in the world — basically, a Christian message — give them the confidence to go out and do great things in their life.”

The NCF’s donation of the New England campus marks the largest gift in Thomas Aquinas College’s history, consisting of some 100 acres of land that include residence halls, a library and gymnasium, and ample classroom and administration space. At this morning’s ceremony, the College took possession of 20 buildings in all, allowing it to expand its more than 45-year history of Catholic liberal education to the East Coast. The NCF also transferred a portion of the campus to The Moody Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Mr. Moody’s evangelical legacy. Mr. Mitchell will serve as its president.

“We think this is an important moment in terms of the working relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics as we work together to spread the Gospel and to evangelize our culture,” said Dr. McLean. “I am grateful to our Board of Governors, who have counseled and advised us through this process, and have been very supportive and helpful in the advice and counsel they have given us, and also very generous in terms of their own support. I am also very grateful to the faculty of Thomas Aquinas College, who have considered this possibility very seriously and have committed themselves to our efforts in New England.” 

Video of the Signing Ceremony

Northfield Transfer Ceremony 2017

President Michael F. McLean and Larry Edge, CEO/President of the National Christian Foundation, sign the documents that formally transfer ownership of the New England campus to Thomas Aquinas College.

“I thank you so much for what you are doing at Thomas Aquinas College. I hope there will always be a Thomas Aquinas College. Your contributions to the Church and the world are marvelous to behold.”

– John Cardinal O’Connor (†)

Archbishop of New York