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Aquinas College
Aquinas College logo
Established 1886
Type Private
Students 2,159
1,604 full-time
32 part-time
268 full-time
255 part-time[1]
Location Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Campus 107 acres (0.43 km2)
Nickname Saints
Mascot Nelson the St. Bernard
Affiliations Roman Catholic

Coordinates: 42°57′36″N 85°37′43″W / 42.96009°N 85.62862°W / 42.96009; -85.62862 Aquinas College is a small, Catholic college that aims to provide a liberal arts education with a global perspective. Aquinas is consistently considered one of the best liberal arts colleges in the Midwest region by U.S. News and World Report (2006).

Aquinas has more than 2,100 students and offers 58 majors, awarding Bachelor's degrees and Master's degrees. It is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Many Aquinas graduates go on to graduate schools: approximately 95% of pre-med students from Aquinas are accepted into medical schools. The opportunity to study abroad is a draw for many Aquinas students, as many take a semester at an international university.



Founded by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids in 1886, Aquinas has a Catholic heritage. Aquinas began as a novitiate normal school, for young women who had yet to take their vows to the Dominican religious order.

In 1922, the Dominican Sisters merged their newly created college for lay women with the normal school. This new college received a charter from the state of Michigan to grant degrees in 1923. In 1931, it became the first Catholic college in the US to go co-ed, and was reorganized as Catholic Junior College.

The college began to operate as a four-year institution in 1941, when it was renamed in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas.


The school's first administrator was Monsignor Bukowski, for whom the school's chapel is named. Following Bukowski was Norbert Hruby, for which Hruby Hall, an administrative building holds his name. After Hruby came Peter O'Connor, who served from 1986 until 1990. R. Paul Nelson became the fourth President, serving until 1997, when he resigned, and was succeeded by President Harry Knopke. Knopke served from 1997 through 2006. Provost Ed Balog had served as interim president since 2006 and became the 6th President on July 1, 2007.

Notable Board of Trustees members include Chairman Thomas Church, Vice-Chair Patrick Miles, Jr., Secretary Debra Bailey, and Treasurer Lanny Thodey, as well as Monseigner. William Duncan, Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids. Trustees Emeritus include Sr. M. Aquinas Weber, a notable figure on campus, and local philanthropist Peter Wege.

In June 2008 Dr. Charles Gunnoe Jr. became Provost and Dean of Faculty for Aquinas College. He had served as head of the History Department for five years prior.

In the fall of 2008 Dr. Patricia Chase assumed the position of Dean of Students of Aquinas College.


Nelson, a St. Bernard, is the mascot of the Aquinas Saints. Aquinas is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. As Aquinas has never fielded a football team, the men's and women's soccer and basketball teams prove big draws. The Athletic Department is led by long-time men's baseball coach Terry Bocian, who retired from coaching in 2002 to focus solely on his duties as athletic director.

Aquinas College teams have been national runner-up twice. In 1963, the Aquinas men's golf team narrowly lost to host Southwest Missouri State in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II tournament. The '63 squad was inducted into the Aquinas College Athletic Hall of Fame on September 26, 2003. And, in 2004, the men's cross country team finished second to Virginia Intermont College at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national meet in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition, five Aquinas athletes have won seven individual national titles in golf and indoor and outdoor track and field.

Notable Aquinas alumni involved in sports include Paul Assenmacher, a pitcher on the school's baseball team in the late 1970s and early 1980s before going on to play for five Major League Baseball teams during a 14-year career; Dave Gumpert, who pitched for three Major League Baseball teams during five seasons in the mid-1980s; and, Canadian sportscaster Brian Williams, a 1968 graduate who began his broadcast career while calling the college's basketball play-by-play in 1967. His professional career took flight in radio with Toronto's CHUM. After a year at CFRB Radio in Toronto, he joined CBC Television's Toronto station, CBLT. With more than 25 years of broadcast experience, Williams is considered the dean of Canadian sports commentators.

Team National Runners-up (2):

  • 1963 - Men's Golf - NCAA Division II
  • 2004 - Men's Cross Country - NAIA

Individual National Champions (7):

  • 1964 - John Kurzynowski - Men’s Golf - NCAA Division II
  • 1974 - Tom Carr - Men’s Hammer Throw - NAIA
  • 1978 - Pat Weiler - Men’s 3000-meter Steeplechase - NCAA Division III
  • 1999 - Jason Carver - Men’s Outdoor 200-meter Dash - NAIA
  • 1999 - Kellie Leeuw - Women’s Outdoor High Jump - NAIA
  • 2001 - Jason Carver - Men’s Indoor 55-meter Dash - NAIA
  • 2001 - Jason Carver - Men’s Indoor 200-meter Dash - NAIA


External links



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