You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
— Psalm 91:5-6
Dear Thomas Aquinas College families,
By God’s grace, we are nearing the end of our 49th academic year, albeit under far from ideal circumstances. With heavy hearts, we bade our students an early farewell, we postponed Commencement for our graduating seniors, and we made do with an online-learning platform which, while adequate, fell far short of the rich, in-person conversations that define our program of Catholic liberal education.
Still, it has been a time of great blessing. We are thankful to God, to so many benefactors, to our tutors, and to our students and their parents for making it possible for us to complete the academic year. We are relieved that the ravages of COVID-19 have not been as widespread as we had reason to fear, and that our community has remained safe. We are grateful for our leaders, both ecclesiastic and civil, who have had to make difficult decisions — often without recourse to conclusive data or guiding precedent — for the common good.
Naturally, our thoughts now turn to the next academic year, which is set to begin at the end of August. Every day I hear from our students, who cannot contain their eagerness to return to our campuses. They long to resume their study of the Great Books through vigorous conversations, surrounded by their friends and fellow scholars. Our faculty members, too, are likewise unanimous in their desire to get back to the classroom. This is the work of Thomas Aquinas College, the work to which our students have dedicated these four years; and our tutors, their lives.
I am pleased to report that, God willing and subject to the restrictions of local authorities, our students and faculty will return to their classrooms in August. Indeed, our entire faculty and staff are working tirelessly toward this end.
The safety of our students, our families, and our surrounding communities is, of course, paramount. As Catholics, our yearning to resume our former lives cannot come at the expense of the vulnerable among us, to whom we owe our special protection.
Providence, however, has blessed Thomas Aquinas College with two beautiful campuses which are rural, remote, and largely self-contained. With diligent adherence to all applicable health and safety guidelines, I am confident that we can operate in a manner that poses minimal risk to our students, our employees, and our neighbors. That may require us to make significant changes to the way we are used to living on campus, but based on my many conversations with students and tutors, I am confident that all would gladly make any such necessary sacrifices.
As we plan for the upcoming academic year, let us recall that God instructs us to fear not “the pestilence that stalks in darkness,” as long as we have faith in Him. “Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent” (Ps. 91:6, 9-10). In faith, let us then return to the work to which we have been called, under the protection of Christ, our refuge and fortress in Whom we trust.
I look forward to seeing all of our incoming and returning students, and as many families as possible, in August.
Michael F. McLean, Ph.D.