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Our Rich History: Retrospect and Vista II – Thomas More College/University, 1971-2021

By Raymond G. Hebert
Special to NKyTribune

Part 1 of our series, “Retrospect and Vista II”: Thomas More College/University, 1971-2021.

Thomas More University, which previously was called Villa Madonna College (1921-1968) and Thomas More College (1968-2018), will be celebrating its Centennial during the 2021-2022 academic year. The Centennial’s celebration events will begin in Fall 2021 during the weekend of September 11-13. More details will follow during the Summer of 2021.

We are proud to announce that in the next twelve months or so, we will be producing articles for the “Our Rich History” column of the NKyTribune that relate to the fascinating history of Thomas More University. The history of Villa Madonna College/Thomas More College (1921-1971) has been told in a short book completed by Sr. Irmina Saelinger, OSB in 1971. Sr. Irmina was the College Registrar at the time, and the title of her book was Retrospect and Vista: The First Fifty Years of Thomas More College.

Dr. Raymond G. Hebert and David E. Schroeder (Photo provided)

Moving from the first 50 years to the second 50 years is a story I will be excited to tell, with help from David Schroeder, the former Archivist at Thomas More, and Thomas Ward, the current Archivist. Meanwhile, I have been blessed to have served both as a faculty member and as an administrator for 46 of those years. I will serve as the general editor as the project moves forward.

In 1971, Sr. Irmina wrote:

“Fifty years in a lifetime is a span that can be witness to many achievements, successes and failures and adaptations to sociological factors affecting the lives of all as we the people of the mid-twentieth century have experienced but admittedly have not always understood. It is difficult at close range to interpret the happenings within a span of fifty years, but Thomas More College stands at the half century mark of its existence and in retrospect certain events stand out as history (Retrospect and Vista, p 1.)

It is impactful to me that Sr. Irmina’s words are just as meaningful now, 50 years later in 2021, as they were then. In a similar way, our sequel—to be symbolically entitled Retrospect and Vista II — will do for the second fifty years what that initial book did for the first fifty years. The articles will, in a similar manner, talk about the people and events that should not be forgotten.

Since 1971, Thomas More has had nine official and two interim presidents, who inspired many events and changes. Those leaders and events, and many of the institutional faculty and staff who made monumental decisions on behalf of the students, will be appropriately remembered. Among the topics to be examined in the next several months will be: The Golden Jubilee Celebration of 1971 (including the dedication of the Science Building in that year); the ill-fated Venture Program of 1972-1976; the Humanities Enrichment program of 1974-1976; the College’s trailblazing Cooperative Education Program (begun in 1976); the St. Thomas More 500th Birthday Quincentennial Conference; and the joint program between St. Pius X Seminary and Thomas More College. We are excited about telling these stories and hope that many of you who are alumni will suggest other topics and/or individuals from the years 1971-2021. Please let us know what Thomas More faculty or staff members made a difference in your lives (hebertr@thomasmore.edu).

Dr. Raymond G. Hebert is a Professor of History and Executive Director of the William T. Robinson III Institute for Religious Liberty at Thomas More University. He has just completed his 46th year at Thomas More and, with that background, will now serve as the General Editor of the official history of Thomas More College/University from 1971-2021. With a projected title of RETROSPECT AND VISTA II, it will serve as the sequel to Sr. Irmina Saelinger’s RETROSPECT AND VISTA, the history of the first 50 years of Thomas More College (formerly Villa Madonna College). Ray can be contacted at hebertr@thomasmore.edu.

We want to learn more about the history of your business, church, school, or organization in our region (Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and along the Ohio River). If you would like to share your rich history with others, please contact the editor of “Our Rich History,” Paul A. Tenkotte, at tenkottep@nku.edu. Paul A. Tenkotte, PhD is Professor of History at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and the author of many books and articles.

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