Six-foot, six-inch U.S. Army private Ronald McArthur used to sit around the barracks and argue with people. Some older men told the young man with a booming voice that he should be a lawyer — he was vocal, persuasive, and could probably make a lot of money.
After his tour of service, that is precisely what McArthur decided he would do. To that end, he entered St. Mary’s College, Moraga (California) — but as it turned out, a lawyer he did not become. At St. Mary’s was introduced to philosophy by reading Plato’s Apology, Socrates’ unsuccessful but moving defense of himself against charges of treason and sedition. “It changed my mind,” he said. “I saw then that ideas were important.”
Ideas, then, became his life. Dr. McArthur finished at St. Mary’s with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949, and then attended Laval University in Quebec, where he studied under the famed Thomist Charles De Koninck. He obtained his doctorate in philosophy there in 1952, deeply committed to expounding and defending the teachings of Aristotle and St. Thomas.
Dr. McArthur returned to the San Francisco Bay area, where he was born and raised, serving as an associate professor of philosophy at the San Francisco College for Women until 1958. For the next 13 years, he was a professor of philosophy at St. Mary’s College and later a tutor in its Integrated Liberal Arts program. He also taught at the University of San Francisco and the University of Santa Clara.
While at St. Mary’s, Dr. McArthur formed several close relationships with other philosophy teachers, Mark Berquist  Jack Neumayr, Frank Ellis, and Dick George. Moreover, he served as faculty advisor to a student organization of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute from 1961-63, whose representative, Peter DeLuca , had been a student of Dr. McArthur’s.
These six, plus another colleague (U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Bill Lawton, Jr.) whom Dr. McArthur met while teaching, were to become the nucleus of Thomas Aquinas College. They for some time had been discussing the plight of modern Catholic liberal education and how they might remedy it when friends and colleagues proposed that they found a college to implement their ideas.
Accordingly, during the summer of 1968, Dr. McArthur and Mr. Berquist began to put into writing a document that would reflect their vision of Catholic liberal education. Dr. Neumayr and another colleague from St. Mary’s, Br. Edmund Dolan, F.S.C, then made revisions to their draft. In 1969, they published A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education, the founding document of Thomas Aquinas College.
Dr. McArthur was named the College’s first president in 1970. By the sheer power of his convictions and personality, he attracted an impressive array of supporters and brought the College to life. He recruited faculty members and students, managed scarce funds, entertained guests, spoke at gatherings, courted benefactors, and taught courses all across the curriculum from freshmen through senior year. His wife, Marilyn, as the first lady of the fledgling College, also offered heroic dedication to the enterprise, opening her home and heart to both guests and students.
As the years went on, Dr. McArthur began to see the fruit of his efforts in the lives of graduates and in their impact on the Church and society. And he saw the College grow in size and reputation. In 1991, after more than 20 years of devoted service to the College, he retired. Two years later, the Heritage Foundation awarded him the Salvatori Award for Academic Excellence in Education for “accomplishing the herculean task of founding a new private college in 1971, dedicated to the highest standards of teaching and leadership.” In 1996, he gave the Commencement address at the College and was awarded its highest honor, the Thomas Aquinas Medallion. 
In 2007 — to the great benefit of the whole community — Dr. McArthur returned to the College and its classrooms as a tutor. In addition to his teaching, he remains active in research and writing, and he lectures and leads seminars around the country. Dr. McArthur is also editor of The Aquinas Review, , a scholarly publication of Thomas Aquinas College. He and Marilyn live in Santa Paula, California, with their friend and 1980 graduate Cathy Walsh.