Pillars of Thomas Aquinas College

Mr. and Mrs. Kraychy dance at the December 2008 wedding of their granddaughter Adrienne (Sauder) Rivera ’02.
Mr. and Mrs. Kraychy dance at the December 2008 wedding of their granddaughter Adrienne (Sauder ’02) Rivera.

When it comes to finances, most well-established academic institutions have it easy — fully capitalized for many years, sitting atop large endowments, and with an enormous pool of alumni to draw upon for support. Owing mostly to its young age, Thomas Aquinas College has none of these luxuries. Nonetheless, it has managed to thrive, due in no small part to people like Mary and Stephen Kraychy of Northbrook, Ill.

The Kraychys are not only members of the Thomas Aquinas College President’s Council,they are its longest-serving members, having contributed, consistently and without failure, to the College since 1974. They have given occasional in-kind gifts, such as books and stocks, as well as regular monetary donations matched by Mr. Kraychy’s former employer.

The President’s Council consists of the hundreds of loyal benefactors who contribute $1,000 or more to the College annually. These are the financial pillars of Thomas Aquinas College, collectively sustaining the College and all of its works. It is President’s Council members who, through their gifts, help to raise the $3 million in annual financial aid that the College provides to qualified students who would otherwise not be able to afford to attend.

Having renewed their membership for 35 consecutive years, the Kraychys are Council members par excellence.

The couple began supporting Thomas Aquinas College almost immediately after discovering it, only a few years after the College’s founding in 1971. “We became aware of the College when the oldest of our three children, Kathy, was a high school junior and looking for colleges,” Mrs. Kraychy recalls. “We flew out to California and were very impressed with what we saw. Kathy applied and was accepted, and she was one of the graduates of the Class of 1978.”

Kathy met her husband, Carl Sauder (‘77), while both were students at the College, and they reside now in Puerto Rico, where Carl is Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. The Sauders have blessed the Kraychys with 12 of their 15 grandchildren, three of whom have graduated from the College.

What most impressed the Kraychys about the College from the moment they first learned about it — and what still impresses them today — is the mix of academic rigor and spiritual vibrancy. “Thomas Aquinas College is outstanding in providing good, solid education and moral grounding to its students,” says Mrs. Kraychy. “It produces well-rounded graduates who are a credit to their families and to the Church, and who serve their country in one aspect or another.”

Because the College accepts no direct government funding, it is particularly dependent upon friends like the Kraychys and their fellow President’s Council members for its smooth financial operation. “President’s Council members are truly our ‘angels’,” says Dr. Michael F. McLean, president of Thomas Aquinas College.

As a small token of gratitude, the College invites President’s Council members to campus each July to participate in its summer seminars — weekend-long sessions that include classroom discussions of the Great Books led by Thomas Aquinas College tutors. “Participating in the seminars is a way to see what life at the College is like for our students,” says Robert Bagdazian, the College’s Director of Development. “Those who attend always seem to take something significant away from the experience, and many come back year after year.”

First and foremost, however — as the Kraychys are the first to agree — the real benefit of joining the President’s Council is the satisfaction of contributing to a noble enterprise that upholds in a singular way both faith and reason. In a short time, Thomas Aquinas College has already proved itself to be a vital resource for the Church and society — and a worthy investment.

For more information about the President’s Council, please contact Mr. Bagdazian at 800-634-9797 or by e-mail at dev@thomasaquinas.edu.