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Celebrating the ‘More’: Thomas More kicks off 100th anniversary year with major campaign and big plans

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

Thomas More University will celebrate its 100th anniversary throughout the year, having kicked off its Centennial with a series of events that define the meaning of “More.”

That “more” included the unveiling by President Joseph Chillo of the university’s Lighting the Way 2021-2026 Strategic Plan and the launch of a $30 million Second Century Campaign, TMU’s largest ever, to fund the strategic plan objectives.

The best news is that over half the goal — $15.7 million — has already been raised in the “silent phase,” and that’s the most money raised for the university in 12 months than any time in its history. The goals of the plan are “not only aspirational but attainable,” said Chillo, and the funds will make the goals real.

The campaign is “interwoven with the strategic plan,” Chillo said. “It will transform our students, the community, and campus of Thomas More.”

Thomas More rolled out the big guns for the campaign: Attorney Will Zeigler, an alum of TMU when it was known as Villa Madonna College, is honorary chair. Co-chairs of the campaign are Bob Sathe and Melissa Lueke. Sathe is chairman of MCF Advisors and retired CEO of CIGNA Financial Advisors. He received an honorary doctorate from TMU. Lueke is former chair of the TMU board and retired executive vice president/COF of Meridian Bioscience.

Gov. Andy Beshear signed an acclamation celebrating NKY’s oldest institution of higher learning and proclaiming it a leader “training the next generation of leaders.”

Chillo, who became TMU president two years ago, said, “Our job and our responsibility is to make sure our students have an education that will last a lifetime.”

“NKY is not NKY without Thomas More,” said Terry O’Connor, director of athletics, citing TMU graduates in the region’s leadership.

The plans include a new Academic Center, a $14 million, 33,000 sq. ft. building that will be home to the College of Business, the Center for Leadership Entrepreneurship and Innovation, an Institute for Religious Liberty and a Center for Faith, Mission & Catholic Education.

Rendering of new Academic Center

The new Academic Center will also allow for the return of the Saints Center to a student center so that student life programming can be expanded.

The plan calls for enhancements to the athletic facility, a Success Center/Benedictine Library project, adding to the university’s endowment and $5million for the Fund for Thomas More University.

TMU will also take over the former offices of the DBL Law firm which is moving to a new facility in Covington.

Another part of the plan deals with attracting and retaining highly qualified faculty, infusing a global perspective, reflecting the values of a liberal arts education, and integrating mission and values into all aspects of the teaching and learning experience.

A third part of the Lighting the Way plan involves “Responsible Stewardship” and priorities include growing enrollment, adding graduate and professional programs, growing the endowment, strengthening the institution’s financial position and fostering a strong sense of community and engagement for alumni and donors.

The strategic plan “will require all of us to help make Thomas More its best self.”

The theme is “more” — ensuring that the institution’s second century delivers “more,” propelling the university forward through more innovation and agility, focusing on more student success, academic innovation and responsible citizenship.

The strategic plan emphasizes student success in all ways — whether that student is traditional, adult, graduate or online. It aims for a diverse and inclusive environment, providing academic and student support services, and increasing retention and graduation rates.

The university’s hashtag is #MakeItMore. “It’s time for More,” as the website says.

To donate to the campaign, click here.

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