Thomas Aquinas College to inaugurate new president

Dr. Michael McLean
Dr. Michael McLean


Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California will inaugurate former dean Dr. Michael F. McLean as its fourth president on Saturday.

The inauguration will begin with a 10 a.m. Mass concelebrated by Cardinal Roger Mahony and Bishop Thomas Curry in the college’s Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. A number of priests, including some alumni, will also concelebrate, the college said in a press release.

Cardinal Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, will lead the installation ceremony in the chapel at 12 noon. Dr. McClean will be greeted by several other college presidents, including Fr. David M. O’Connell of the Catholic University of America.

The Chairman of the Board of Governors, R. James Wensley, will invest Dr. McLean as president and give him the president’s silver chain of office. The new president will then make a profession of faith and an oath of fidelity that he and his college will remain loyal to the Holy Father and to Catholic teaching.

Wensley noted the college’s unique practice of appointing a president from among the teaching faculty. The practice was intended to ensure that the college would maintain “the unique character of its academic program, its discipleship to the Church’s Universal Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, and its authentically Catholic character.”

“The founders were convinced that no one could better achieve these goals than a tutor who had devoted his life to implementing the mission of the college on a daily basis in our classrooms,” he continued, adding that the president is required to teach at least one class.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, has sent a message assuring the college of his prayers.

Dr. McLean, born in 1947, holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Mary’s College of California and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame.

After his graduation from St. Mary’s College, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in St. Vincent, British West Indies. He also served as a U.S. Coast Guard officer for three years.

He was appointed to the faculty of Thomas Aquinas College in 1978 and has served as a teacher since that time. He served as an assistant dean for Student Affairs, vice-president for Development, and Dean of the College and was a member of its Board of Governors.

Married for 42 years to his wife Lynda, he is the father of three children and grandfather of four.

He succeeds President Thomas Dillon, who died in an April 2009 car accident in Ireland.

Fr. Cornelius Buckley, S.J., Assistant Dean for Religious Affairs, said there has been “great sorrow” at the college since Dillon’s death.

The inauguration of Dr. McLean, he said, will be “a wonderful opportunity for the whole college community to renew its commitment to genuine Catholic liberal education, to rejoice in the great good that this college provides for the Church and our country, and to look forward with hope and confidence to the future under the leadership of President Michael McLean.”

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