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At its 2022 California Commencement exercises, Thomas Aquinas College not only distributed 83 diplomas to its newest graduates, it also awarded honors to an esteemed guest, some dear friends, and a beloved president.

The Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion

Carl A. Anderson and Scott Turicchi
Carl A. Anderson and Scott Turicchi

Established by the College’s Board of Governors in 1975, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion recognizes those Catholics who have shown, through their lives and work, an extraordinary dedication to God and His holy church. Each recipient has demonstrated unfailing adherence to the Magisterium as well as influential leadership in advancing the teachings of the Church. The Medallion is awarded by resolution of the Board of Governors on behalf of the entire College community.

This year the College conferred two such Medallions. The first recipient was Carl A. Anderson, former Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, who delivered the 2022 Commencement Address. In his remarks upon presenting the award, Chairman of the Board of Governors Scott Turicchi cited Mr. Anderson’s “unceasing efforts to protect the lives of the unborn ... and his leadership of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, the Knights of Columbus.”

Mr. Turicchi and President Michael F. McLean
Mr. Turicchi and President Michael F. McLean

The second recipient was none other than Dr. Michael F. McLean, who, after 12 years, will be stepping down as the College’s president following next week’s Commencement exercises on the New England campus.  Mr. Turicchi commended Dr. McLean’s service, noting “his administration of the College, allowing for expansion to a second campus in New England; his protection of the community against natural disasters such as the Thomas Fire and the Covid-19 pandemic; and his preservation of the mission of the College, especially in successfully challenging the HHS Contraceptive Mandate.”

Order of Saint Albert

The College established the Order of Saint Albert in 1998 under the patronage of St. Albert the Great, who taught St. Thomas Aquinas. Membership in the Order recognizes those benefactors whose generosity to Thomas Aquinas College has been exceptional. Members receive a cast bronze bust of St. Albert, and their names are engraved on the plinth of the saint that occupies a corner of the California campus’ academic quadrangle.

Jody Olsen-Kelly and Mr. Turicchi
Jody Olsen-Kelly and Mr. Turicchi

This year the College extended membership in the Order of Saint Albert to late benefactors Dorothy and Kenneth Olsen. “Throughout their 75 years of marriage, the Olsens provided their family, friends, and all who knew them a model for Christian living,” said Mr. Turicchi in his remarks. “They were convinced of the good that Thomas Aquinas College accomplishes in the minds and souls of the young people who study here, and they demonstrated that conviction with generous gifts during their lives and by leaving the College a magnificent legacy gift.”

The Olsens’ seven children were in attendance, with their daughter Jody Olsen-Kelly receiving the award on her parents’ behalf. “Our family is honored beyond belief that somebody would go to this extent to honor our mom and dad,” she said. Imitating her parents, Mrs. Olsen-Kelly quickly then directed the spotlight elsewhere: “Graduates, with you, in honor of my parents, who were St. Albert to us, I would invite you to join me in a round of applause to the people who have been St. Albert to you.”