Among the earliest members of the Thomas Aquinas College President’s Council  were two of the earliest members of the College’s alumni, Rose (Teichert) and Dan Grimm (both ’76). The couple remembers being invited to join the Council — the College’s financial backbone, consisting of hundreds of loyal benefactors who contribute $1,000 or more annually — by Founding President Ronald P. McArthur  at the time of its creation.
“We thought the College was a huge blessing for us, and we wanted it to be there for others,” says Dan. “We weren’t even thinking of our kids at the time.” Nonetheless their children would eventually become beneficiaries of this generosity. Of the seven, five have gone on to graduate from the College, one is currently a student, and the youngest will enter this fall. The Grimms’ relationship with the College is very much a family affair, and always has been.
Concerned about the direction of Catholic education, Dan’s father, Bill Grimm, was thrilled when he first learned about the College in 1971, just months before the start of its first academic year. He loaded four of his 17 children into the car and drove from the family home in Pasadena to the College’s original campus in Malibu Canyon. What followed was an impromptu interview that quickly turned into an audition.
“Dad thought we would have a better chance of getting in if we sang,” explains Dan, a marriage and family counselor at Stillpoint Family Resources in West Hills, Calif. His family, gifted musicians all, had been singing sacred music together for years. “So we lined up in the foyer of the building and we started singing Palestrina.” The College’s founders — “who were all there in shirtsleeves” — Dan recalls, were delighted by what they heard.
When the College first opened months later with two Grimms in its freshman class (the next two, including Dan, would have to wait a year), “we were the choir,” says Dan. The family’s musical influence over the College has never abated. Dan began leading the choir when he served as the College’s director and later vice president of development from 1993 to 2001, and he continues to do so.
Another member of the College’s early choir was Mrs. Grimm, who would meet her future husband on the very first day of their freshman year in 1972. Despite having already earned a bachelor’s degree at a prestigious university, Rose was drawn to the College by its classical curriculum and its determination to honor the teachings of the Church. The contrast between her two college experiences was profound.
“I had experienced an education consisting mostly of lectures, and it was a little hard to see the point, when we could get the same information out of a book,” says Mrs. Grimm, a home-educator for 28 years and now a teacher at Saint Augustine Academy in Ventura, Calif. At the College, where learning takes place by way of Socratic dialogues, “you had to take an active part in your education.… We gained a lot of confidence in our own minds. We learned that we did not have to rely on others to know what a text says.”
The couple married shortly after graduation, and as the years passed, there was little doubt where their children would go to college. “I know so many big, loyal Catholic families where the culture just tore them apart, and it’s largely because when the kids went away to college, everything they had learned from their parents was undermined by their college education,” says Dan. Such was decidedly not the case at the College, which, he says, bolsters students’ faith with the full force of the Church’s intellectual tradition. “After my parents’ own faith,” he observes, “my biggest influence was Thomas Aquinas College.”
In gratitude for that gift, the Grimms have been loyal members of the President’s Council throughout the years. Yet their primary motive for supporting the College remains, as always, making sure that it will be around for future generations. With their ninth grandchild on the way, that is as compelling a reason as ever.