Smoky Mountains Sunrise

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New President Appointed at Thomas Aquinas College

There is wonderful news from our first advertiser and one of America's very best Catholic colleges, Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California.

TAC's news release follows:
At its fall meeting today, the Board of Governors of Thomas Aquinas College appointed Dr. Michael F. McLean the fourth president of the 38-year old institution. Dr. McLean will succeed interim president Peter L. DeLuca who took office this past April after the tragic death of the school's 18-year president, Dr. Thomas E. Dillon.

A member of the teaching faculty of the college since 1978, Dr. McLean holds a BA in philosophy from Saint Mary's College of Cal
ifornia and a PhD also in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. He has served in a number of capacities at the college including as assistant dean for student affairs, vice president for development, and since 2003, dean of the college and member of its Board of Governors.

On announcing the appointment, Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr. R. James Wensley said, "We on the board look forward with great faith and optimism to the continued ability of the school to produce outstanding graduates under Dr. McLean's leadership. "

Founding president, Dr. Ronald P. McArthur, now a tutor at the college, commented on Dr. McLean's appointment saying, "Michael McLean has been a superior teacher, a superior dean, and a successful vice president for development. He is, therefore, not only qualified but competent and capable of the highest kind of leadership for the college today."

Perhaps unique in America, Thomas Aquinas College is required by its bylaws to seek among the existing members of its teaching faculty for presidential candidates. During this past summer, therefore, a faculty nominating committee consulted with senior faculty members to determine candidates whose names were delivered to a corresponding committee of the Board of Governors. After extensive interviews with those candidates, that committee of the board recommended Dr. McLean to its full membership; governors then voted unanimously to appoint him president.

Says founder and outgoing interim president, Peter DeLuca, "At the time of our founding, in the late 1960's, we were keenly aware of the terrible erosion of Catholic identity that was occurring at many, if not mos
t, of our country's Catholic colleges and universities. Intent on doing all we could to ensure the integrity of our new college over time, we put in a place a presidential selection process that would conduce to the preservation of Thomas Aquinas College's strong Catholic character and its unique program of Catholic liberal education. Thus, we determined that the selection of a president would be best made from among those who know the college firsthand and have devoted their lives to implementing its founding principles in the classroom."

In comments following his appointment, incoming president Dr. McLean said, "I am humbled and deeply honored. I appreciate the careful way in which the faculty and board conducted the presidential selection process. I have a deep love for the College, for the faculty, and for the students and will commit myself completely to preserving the College's mission, purpose, and fidelity to the Catholic Church. Together with the board and the faculty, and with God's help, I will work to ensure that the College continues to attract eager and diligent students and remains in its present strong financial condition."

At the request of the Board of Governors, Mr. DeLuca will continue to serve as interim president until the end of the first semester later this year. Dr. McLean will take up his new office as president in January, at the start of the second semester; his inauguration will take place on the campus on Saturday, February 13, 2010.

Dr. Michael F. 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 to the present, as Dean of the College and as a member 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.


Thomas Aquinas College is a four-year, Catholic liberal arts college with a fully-integrated curriculum composed exclusively of the Great Books, the seminal works in the major disciplines by the great thinkers who have helped shape Western civilization. There are no textbooks, no lectures and no electives. Instead, under the guidance of faculty members and using only the Socratic method of dialogue in classes of no more than 20, students read and discuss the original works of authors such as Euclid, Dante, Galileo, Descartes, the American Founding Fathers, Adam Smith, Shakespeare, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, Aristotle, Plato, St. Augustine, and of course, St. Thomas Aquinas. Graduates consistently excel in the many world-class institutions at which they pursue graduate degrees in fields such as law, medicine, business, theology and education. They have distinguished themselves serving as lawyers, doctors, business owners, priests, military service men and women, educators, journalists and college presidents.

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