Our Rich History: Retrospect and Vista II – Thomas More College / University, 1971-2021

By Raymond G. Hébert
Special at NKyTribune

Part 1 of our series, “Retrospect and Vista II”: Thomas More College / University, 1971-2021.

Thomas More University, which was previously called Villa Madonna College (1921-1968) and Thomas More College (1968-2018), will celebrate its centenary in the 2021-2022 academic year. Centennial celebratory events will begin in fall 2021 over the weekend of September 11-13. More details will follow in the summer of 2021.

We are proud to announce that over the next twelve months or so, we will be producing articles for the “Our Rich History” section of the NKyTribune that relate to the fascinating history of Thomas More University. The story of Villa Madonna College / Thomas More College (1921-1971) was told in a short book completed by Sr. Irmina Saelinger, OSB in 1971. Sr. Irmina was the Registrar of the College at the time, and the title of his book was Retrospective and Vista: The First Fifty Years of Thomas More College.

Dr Raymond G. Hebert and David E. Schroeder (Photo provided)

Going from the first 50 years to the next 50 years is a story I will be happy to tell, with the help of David Schroeder, the former archivist of Thomas More, and Thomas Ward, the current archivist. In the meantime, I have been fortunate to have served both as a faculty member and as an administrator for 46 of those years. I will be the editor-in-chief as the project progresses.

In 1971, Sr Irmina wrote:

“Fifty years in a lifetime is a period that can witness many achievements, successes and failures and adaptations to sociological factors affecting the lives of all as we, the people of the mid-twentieth century, lived but certainly did not always including. It is difficult to interpret events over a fifty-year period closely, but Thomas More College is half a century of its existence, and in retrospect some events stand out like history (Retrospective and Vista, p 1.)

It touches me that Sr. Irmina’s words are just as meaningful now, 50 years later in 2021, as they were then. In the same way, our suite, which is symbolically titled Retrospective and Vista II – will do for the fifty second years what this first book did for the first fifty years. The articles will talk, in the same way, about people and events that should not be forgotten.

Since 1971, Thomas More has had nine official presidents and two interim presidents, which have inspired many events and changes. These leaders and events, along with many institutional faculty and staff who made monumental decisions on behalf of students, will be remembered. Among the topics to be considered in the coming months are: the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of 1971 (including the inauguration of the Science Building that year); the hapless Venture Program of 1972-1976; the 1974-1976 human sciences enrichment program; the College’s innovative cooperative education program (started in 1976); St. Thomas More’s 50th Anniversary 500th Anniversary Conference; and the joint program between Saint Pius X Seminary and Thomas More College. We are delighted to tell these stories and hope that many of you who are alumni will suggest other topics and / or individuals from the years 1971-2021. Please let us know what the professors or staff at Thomas More have made a difference in your life ([email protected]).

Dr Raymond G. Hebert is Professor of History and Executive Director of the William T. Robinson III Institute for Religious Freedom at Thomas More University. He has just completed his 46th year at Thomas More and, with that training, will now be the official history editor of Thomas More College / University from 1971 to 2021. With a projected title of RETROSPECTIVE AND VISTA II, it will be used immediately by Sr. Irmina Saelinger’s RETROSPECT AND VISTA, the story of the first 50 years of Thomas More College (formerly Villa Madonna College). Ray can be contacted at [email protected]

We want to learn more about the history of your business, church, school, or organization in our area (Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and along the Ohio River). If you would like to share your rich history with others, please contact “Our Rich History” editor Paul A. Tenkotte at [email protected] Paul A. Tenkotte, PhD is professor of history at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and author of numerous books and articles.

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