SANTA PAULA, CA—The chairman of the board of governors of Thomas Aquinas College, Maria O. Grant, has announced that yesterday, at 11:15 a.m., in the presence of students and faculty in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, college chaplain and assistant to the dean for religious affairs Rev. Cornelius Buckley, S.J., administered the Oath of Fidelity to newly appointed interim president Peter L. DeLuca, who also made a Profession of Faith. Mrs. Grant then presented the presidential chain of office to president DeLuca. This brief ceremony was followed by the college’s regularly scheduled 11:30 a.m. Mass.
In remarks following the ceremony Mr. DeLuca said, “I was greatly honored that Mrs. Grant and the Board of Governors chose me to exercise the office of president.” “I am going to do my very best,” he continued, “to live up to their confidence, to preserve the College, protect it, and pass it on to my successor in the way that I received it. I would like to ask everyone in the Thomas Aquinas College community to assist me with your prayers that I receive the necessary graces of office to faithfully carry out the task that is before me.”
It has been two weeks since the tragic loss of president Thomas E. Dillon in an automobile accident in Ireland, where he had traveled on college business. Said Mrs. Grant, “Dr. Dillon’s death has been a tremendous shock for all of us. But I have great assurance that things are moving forward in an orderly way at Thomas Aquinas College. I am confident that under Mr. DeLuca’s steady hand, this interim period between Dr. Dillon’s death and the appointment of a new president will go smoothly.”
PETER L. DELUCA III is interim president, treasurer, and vice president for finance and administration of Thomas Aquinas College. One of the founders of the college, he has been a member of the Board of Governors since 1969 and of the teaching faculty since 1971. He has also served as senior vice president and vice president for development. A graduate in economics at St. Mary’s College of California, Mr. DeLuca served as western director and national director of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. He then worked as assistant to the president of Grant Oil Tool Co. and pursued graduate studies at the University of Southern California.