Heritage & Traditions  
   

1940 to 1942

1940
1940
Students at work in the 1940s science lab. The large number of women reflect
the war years when male students were serving in the Armed Forces.
Sr. Mildred Hawkins, Academic Dean
 
1940

The Dominican sisters enter into negotiations with the North Central Association to expand Catholic Junior College into a four-year college. In 1939, a third year is added to CJC's curriculum. and in 1940, Catholic Junior College officially becomes Aquinas College, a four-year degree granting institution. The name Aquinas was chosen to honor both the medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas and to remind the college of Mother Aquinata Fiegler whose leadership in the early years of Novitiate Normal School helped the original sisters establish their ministry in Michigan.

 
1941

Articles of incorporation for Aquinas College are officially filed in Lansing.

 
1942
WWII calls most male students into service. Recruiting days are held on campus and several male faculty members enter the service. On the home front, students collect pennies for copper salvage, sell war stamps and bonds, pray and hear Masses for the armed forces. A service flag, dedicated on November 5, 1942, contains 114 blue stars and one gold star, blue for those in service and gold for those who died. By December, 1944, the flag has 273 blue stars and 6 gold.

General education requirements totaled 70 semester hours, including Latin and Greek.

Summer courses are taught at Marywood, for the convenience of the Dominican sisters who taught at Catholic schools during the school years and completed their degrees in summer sessions.

Religious events through the year include an annual crowning of Mary in May, and a celebration of the feast of Thomas Aquinas on March 7.

 

1944 to 1945

1944
1944
In 1944, the first Aquinas College prom is held. Even though World War II is on (note student in uniform and Sam Brown belt), students find time for fun.
Holmdene, the former Lowe mansion on the Robinson
Road campus. Its 22 rooms housed most of the
college’s functions in the early years. Included
were offices, library, bookstore, with former
bedrooms upstairs serving as classrooms.
The mature trees in front of the mansion reflect the
Lowe family’s lumbering interests and many of the
trees on campus are rare species. There was at
least one tree of every species that grows in
Michigan as well as imported beeches from England,
maples from Norway, and many elm trees, later
wiped out by the blight.

microphone
To hear an alumna from 1945 speak about
the move to Holmdene and student hijinks,
click here. This audio link is to "Historically Speaking," an oral history of Aquinas College.
 
Aquinas Service Flag

In December, 1944, students Edmund Kieras and Betty Butler check out Aquinas College’s  World War II service flag. Six Aquinas students were killed while serving

in World War II.

 
1945

 

Purchase of Robinson Road Campus, the former Lowe estate. This property was once owned by the short-lived University of Grand Rapids which went under financially during the war. Mother Euphrasia Sullivan spearheaded the purchase, taking out a loan of $115,000. In Apri, 1945, Father Bukowski announces the College’s move.
 
microphone To hear Sr. Jean Milhaupt reflect on the announcement and on how she scooped the diocesan paper as a young reporter, click here for an audio clip from "Historically Speaking," an oral history of Aquinas College.
 
Summer: The Holmdene manor house was readied for incoming students.
Aquinas Herald
In 1945, Aquinas College purchased property at 1607 Robinson Road that included the stately Holmdene mansion built by Edward Lowe in 1908.
Academic Day Breakfast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At left: Academic Day Breakfast 1945.

 

1946 to 1947

1945
1947
In 1945, when the College moves from the Ransom Street campus, there is much
work to be done to convert the former Lowe estate into a college campus. Here
Aquinas students work with scythes to clear away a field of hay.

In 1947, students on a budget learn to entertain themselves with an annual "Review-Preview" and other activities.

 
1946

Aquinas College receives accreditation from the North Central Association.

 

The first yearbook is published and named "The Thomist."

 

The Aquinas Circle, a social club founded by German-born Father Henry Nauer, meets weekly at the Knights of Columbus hall downtown.

 

Enrolment swells to 426 students as 144 returning World War II vets come back to campus.

 

microphone To hear alumna Millie de Alva Marin discuss the effect of the returning vets on the college, click here for an audio clip from "Historically Speaking," an oral history of Aquinas College.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At left: The College Glee Club, 1947, poses in Holmdene lobby.

 

1948 to 1949

1948
1949
Before the Administration building was constructed, nearly all college activities were housed in Holmdene. Here students work in the library in Holmdene in 1948.

1949 Aquinas basketball team. The Aquinas sports program in these days is limited to baseball, basketball, golf, cross-country and track.

 
1948
Father Bukowski is elevated to the status of Monsignor.
 
Students form a chapter of the Dominican Tertiaries (3rd order), and plan construction of the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima (dedicated May, 1950). The money for the shrine was raised by students and alumni in memory of the Aquinas community members who died in World War II.
 
The first Marian Congress is held, May 1. This annual event draws crowds of more than 2,000 people each year.
 
microphone To hear alumnus Tom Zoellner talk about the construction of the Fatima shrine, click here. This audio link is to "Historically Speaking," an oral history of Aquinas College.
Father Bukowski
Father Bukowski became a monsignor in 1948. Here he greets students Geraldine Potts and Florence Wattson in front of Holmdene, the main campus building until 1955.
 
1949
1949
Graduation day, 1949, is held in the gym, the upper level of the old stables.
Note the angled ceiling which provides for interesting "carom shots" in basketball
and volleyball games!
Father Terrier