“Truth will be the chief object of study as well as the governing principle of the whole institution.”
So reads the founding document of Thomas Aquinas College, A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education, which declares truth to be central to the College’s mission. In the spirit of that document, and in the hope of sharing its promise ever more widely, the College has adopted a new slogan for its advertising and promotional materials: Truth Matters.
“We wanted a concise statement that conveys what makes Thomas Aquinas College unique among American institutions of higher learning, something that reflects both our fidelity to the teaching Church and our commitment to academic excellence through our program of Catholic liberal education,” says President Michael F. McLean. “‘Truth Matters’ does just that.”
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
In an age characterized by what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has described as the “dictatorship of relativism,” Thomas Aquinas College stands firm in the conviction that the human mind can come to the truth about reality — about nature, man, and the God who made them. What is more, the College stands firm in the conviction that truth matters. “The truth shall set you free,” Our Lord promises, delivering us from the temporal prisons of sin and error ( Jn. 8:32).
Not only does the truth perfect us as human beings made in the image and likeness of God, but it enables us to provide a defense in the public square for the things we hold most dear. For this reason the Thomas Aquinas College curriculum guides students in the pursuit of truth via many different paths: the order of mathematics, the wonder of natural science, the beauty of poetry and literature. All of these, however, are ordered to the two highest disciplines: philosophy, the love of wisdom, in which reason grapples with the eternal questions; and theology, the knowledge of God, in which faith unites with reason to show us Truth Himself.
Indeed, as Our Lord tells us, He is the “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:16). That is, truth is not merely an abstraction to be studied, but a Person to be known, loved, and served. “Finally, the most important conversations on campus take place not in our classrooms, but in our chapel,” says Dr. McLean. “The truths we derive from reading the words of the great authors are but a foretaste of the truth to be found in communion with the Word made flesh.” While the College is first an academic institution, the whole of its academic program is directed toward fostering this relationship for each individual student.
“We can see the results of this approach every day,” notes Director of College Relations Anne Forsyth (’78). “They are evident in the conversions, in the vocations, in the palpable joy one finds among our students.”
The Truth as Lodestar
Although all faithfully Catholic colleges are oriented toward truth, what sets Thomas Aquinas College apart, adds Mrs. Forsyth, is that the pursuit of truth is its lodestar. “Every school has its own emphasis or charism,” she explains. “Here, our focus is on engaging students with the truth. This is why our curriculum is composed of the great books, not textbooks, so the students have a direct connection with the works of the greatest minds in Western civilization. This is why, instead of listening to lectures, our students take an active role in classroom discussions. As a natural consequence of this active engagement, a vibrant spiritual life and a genuinely Catholic community flourish on our campus.”
From this devotion to truth also springs the strong Catholic identity and record of academic excellence for which the College has earned the praise of both religious and secular critics, such as The Cardinal Newman Guide and The Princeton Review. “Truth matters. It matters more than anything else,” says Dr. McLean. “Out of love for the truth, we devote ourselves to upholding the teachings of the Church and vigorously pursuing the breadth of liberal education.”
The “Truth Matters” slogan — the product of collaboration among members of the College’s faculty, administration, Board of Governors, and alumni — is now featured prominently on the College website. Within the next few weeks, it will also appear in other promotional materials, including print and online advertisements.
Posted: December 6, 2013
“In our classroom discussions, we are not only given free rein to speak, but free rein to think. No question is off the table. Anything that can bring a more full understanding of the truth is welcomed and encouraged.”
– Christopher Sebastian (’13)
“Thomas Aquinas College is doing on the undergraduate level exactly what should be done. The College's alumni and alumnae prove that with this kind of education you can go on and do anything.”
– Dr. Ralph McInerny (†)
Scholar and Writer