In 2013 the Thomas Aquinas College Board of Governors elected to its ranks a new member with a familiar name: Mr. Walter J. Conn of San Marino, Calif.
The Conn family and the College enjoy a longstanding friendship. It dates back to 1992, when one of Mr. Conn’s brothers, Rev. Thomas Conn, S.J., came to the College as a chaplain, a position in which he faithfully served until his death from cancer in 1997. During that time, Fr. Conn was an enthusiastic evangelist for Thomas Aquinas College, introducing it to all those he loved, including his brother James, who has been a member of the Board of Governors since 1995, and Walter, who now joins James on the Board.
“I got to know the College because Tom was so pleased about it,” recalls Mr. Conn. “He liked that it was so strongly Catholic, and that it taught people about life rather than about business or something else so narrowly focused. He was very impressed with that, and he felt the College taught the Faith even better than some of the seminaries.” Inspired by his brother’s endorsement, Mr. Conn became a loyal benefactor of the College in 1993.
The son of Irish immigrants, Mr. Conn grew up in South Pasadena, Calif. He attended the University of Santa Clara through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, and upon graduating, entered the U.S. Army, where he served as a missile officer, first in San Francisco and then in Germany.
In 1963, having attained the rank of captain, Mr. Conn received an honorable discharge from the Army and decided to pursue a career in real estate. He took a job with Charles Dunn Co. in Los Angeles, and established what became one of the largest regional property management companies in Southern California. In 1995 he purchased the other divisions of Charles Dunn Co. and became its chairman. On April 1, 2013, he completed his 50th year with the company.
Mr. Conn and his wife, Donna, have three adult children, all of whom work with him at Charles Dunn Co. In addition to his work for Thomas Aquinas College, he serves on the board of the International Theological Institute, and he is a trustee emeritus of Gonzaga University. He sits on the boards of the Los Angeles Opera, the California Hospital Medical Center Foundation, the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart, and various other organizations.
“We are very pleased and grateful to have another Conn on the Board,” says Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean. “Walter brings vast experience, a generous heart, and a proven love for the College that will be of great benefit to our noble cause of Catholic liberal education.”
For his part, Mr. Conn says that he is glad to continue his family’s tradition of service to the College. “Thomas Aquinas is doing a great deal of good for its students,” he says. “It helps young people understand what is important in life and how to become better people through God’s teachings. This is why I am pleased to be part of Thomas Aquinas College.”
“We don’t come here for four years merely to learn a bunch of facts, but to learn how to think more clearly, which is an education for a lifetime.”
– Adrienne Grimm (’14)
San Dimas, Calif.