Parents and Families  

eNewsletter: September 2013

A Letter from the President
Groundbreaking Set for the Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building
Homecoming: Saturday, September 28
Campus Safety Update
The AQ Path to Successful Career Planning
How Parents Can Encourage Their Shy Child to Find Meaningful Connections at Aquinas College
Get AQuainted Days - Fun and Pun Intended!
The Class of 2017 – By the Numbers
Birthday Cakes Delivered
A Letter from the President
President Juan Olivarez

Dear Parents,

Each fall, as the campus comes alive with the energy generated by our students, my own energy is renewed.  Aquinas College staff and faculty are motivated to provide a great experience for each AQ Saint! We have diligently prepared for a great year, and we are happy to have your student at AQ.

We promise to provide an atmosphere where your student can grow and develop their mind as well as their heart.  Our mission is to make a difference in today’s world, and we teach our students how to do the same.


Please check the Aquinas College website frequently to find out what is going on at AQ. If you are on Facebook, we invite you to “like” our page.


Enjoy this newsletter!


Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.


Groundbreaking Set for the Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building
By: Cindy Dorman, Director of Grants and Foundation Relations

On September 25, 2013, the official groundbreaking of the Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building – formerly referred to as “Phase II” – will take place at 10:30 a.m. Named for the family of Greg Alksnis ’71 and the lead donor to the project, the Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building will house a 200-meter NCAA-certified track and a turf infield that will also feature portable courts for use by intramural and junior varsity teams. In addition, the space will accommodate indoor practice for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse.


Greg Alksnis ‘71, coowner of Magic Steel Corporation and an Aquinas Trustee Emeritus, learned to play golf from Robert Hall, the pro at the former Grand Rapids Golf Club, who, after four years of chasing young Greg off the private course,

Alksnis Athletics & Recreation Building

recognized his talent and offered him free lessons. A scholarship athlete at Aquinas, Greg was a star on the golf team and continued to distinguish himself on the links as an amateur throughout his life. An Aquinas College 2006 Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Greg is one of only three golfers to win the “Grand Slam” of the four local major titles. >Read More


Homecoming: Saturday, September 28

By: Brigid Avery, Director of Alumni Relations

Homecoming is a great weekend to visit your student at Aquinas. It is inspiring to see how many alumni still consider this special place “home,” bringing their families back for the Aquinas Experience. Homecoming is truly a family friendly event.


There is plenty to do on campus as well as off. The campus will be buzzing as early as 8 a.m. for the annual AQ Run Thru and end with a bang as the very popular “Three’s A Crowd” performs at the Main Stage Tent. A short drive via car or bus downtown will take you to the heart of ArtPrize, the World’s largest open art competition.  Visit for more information.


The following is a list of highlights that you and your AQ student can enjoy together:

Homecoming 2013
  • 8 a.m.: AQRunThru - 5k run and 2K walk through the picturesque campus.  Visit the AQRun Thru web page  for the sign up form.
  • 11 a.m.: Homecoming Mass with Father Stan Drongowski. This is a great opportunity to meet our new chaplain! The chamber choir, directed by Larry Biser is a special treat. Everyone who attends the mass will receive a coupon for a $5 all-you-can-eat brunch in Wege (payable at the door- cash only).
  • 12:30 p.m.: Women’s Soccer vs. Cleary University
  • 1 p.m.:  Food booths open, including a French fry bar with local/Michigan ingredients, chili dogs, wings, and more!
  • 1 p.m.: Inflatable Village & Midway: For kids, teenagers, college students and the young at heart…try your hand at the bungee run or giant obstacle course. $1 donation suggestion, benefitting student groups from Diversity and Inclusion.
  • 2 p.m.:  Faculty Art Exhibit; Homecoming Reception , Art & Music Center, 2nd Floor Art Gallery.
  • 3 p.m.:  Men’s Soccer vs. Lawrence Tech
    Homecoming Court Coronation at halftime of Men’s game. Tailgate sponsored by Campus Life.
  • 5:30 p.m.: Volleyball vs. Goshen College
  • 6 p.m.: Music Department Open House
  • 7:30 p.m.: Music Alumni Jazz Combo Concert. Several accomplished AQ Alumni Musicians will perform, faculty members will assist. A Jazz Café will follow with desserts & coffee.

There are also many activities planned for the students throughout the week and late Saturday night. Encourage your student to check the Campus Life website for all the updates!

For the entire schedule, hotel information, and links to download the Homecoming App, please visit the Homecoming website. We sure hope you will make it down for the day or weekend.  I am sure your “Saint” will be excited to share their Aquinas with you!


Campus Safety Update

By: Kevin Kwiatkowski,  Director of the Department Of Campus Safety

Campus Safety Update

The Aquinas College Department of Campus Safety would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Aquinas family.  Now that your student is hopefully settled into their routine we would like to take a moment to explain some new and exciting programs available to your student. 


Campus Safety, in collaboration with several Aquinas College departments and in partnership with The Rapid, is pleased to announce a reduced rate of $0.25 per ride for your student. To claim this benefit, they simply must show their current Aquinas student ID card which will automatically provide them with the reduced rate.  This rate will be effective for the 2013 - 2014 academic year. In order to assist them in planning trips to the surrounding area they may find information concerning “The Rapid” bus routes at

In addition to the reduced bus rate fares and to support our desire to be a sustainable college, Campus Safety is proud to offer AQBikes!  This exciting new program allows your student the opportunity to rent a bike by the day, weekend or quad. In the spirit of safety we are also offering helmets and bike locks with the rental of each bike. For their convenience we are also selling bike locks at a reduced rate.


A new incentive that Campus Safety is offering this year is the opportunity to park in a prime parking spot.  In order to claim this location, a student must “carpool” with three or more occupants to school.  Currently Aquinas College has designated carpool spots in the Wege and Woodward parking lots.  In order for your student to take advantage of these spots, all occupants of the vehicle must stop by the Campus Safety office so that office staff may verify the occupants’ requirement and issue the appropriate pass for the vehicle.  This pass is not transferable and is only valid for the day. 


Finally Aquinas College is pleased to announce that there are numerous improvements and expansions in the process or planned for in the near future.  Some of these improvements are the addition of new and improved lighting.  Again in keeping with the process of sustainability we have chosen to utilize LED lights which are providing a higher light producing capability at less cost, while improving the coverage and safety on campus.  In addition to improving lighting, we have also expanded the amount of parking spaces available in the Browne Center Parking Lot.  Upon final approval, we will expand the Hruby Parking lot to accommodate more of our resident students.


Future improvements will include repaving of the Fulton lot and Mayfield Lot, featuring the new and improved lighting.  Campus Safety is excited for the increased security that these improvements will bring to your student and all members of the Aquinas College Community.

As always if you have any concerns or questions please feel free to contact us by email at or calling us at (616) 632-2462.


The AQ Path to Successful Career Planning

By: Brian Matzke, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs

To all our returning parents, let me say “Welcome back.”  I am delighted to see your student returning to Aquinas for another year.  I’d also like to give a warm “hello” and “welcome” to all of our first-time parents. The student affairs staff looks forward to working with you and your student this year.

Although we may be at the beginning of the academic year, we are encouraging students to start thinking ahead to their long-term goals.  Whether they will leave Aquinas to go into the workforce, or off to graduate school, we highly recommend that they take advantage of our career services office located in lower Donnelly Center. It is easy to put off thinking about what comes next, and we definitely want your student to enjoy their time and get connected on our campus. Our career and counseling center can help with both objectives.

We feel that we have a four step model to successful career planning that will help your student, no matter where they are in their Aquinas career.  We feel that by sharing this model with you, you can help to see how they are progressing.  In year one, we want your student to do some self-assessment.  What are their skills, interests and abilities?  What are their strengths?  In year two then, we can begin to focus in more closely on career awareness.  We can work with your student to start to research on different career fields that may be of interest to them.  In their junior years, we really encourage your student to get some experience and do some reality testing.  Doing an internship, study abroad experience, or taking a service learning trip is highly recommended and gives more depth to the world in which we live. Finally, in your senior year, we want to help your student with a proactive job search, or work with them on their graduate school application.  The bottom line is that wherever your student wants to go, we want to help them get there.  No matter where your student is in this timeline, our career services office wants to help you. 

It is also with this in mind that my office is sponsoring a “Day on the Job” for anyone that might be interested in a career in student affairs.  Each year upon graduation, Aquinas College sends many students into various Student Affairs graduate programs and professional positions.  We want to reach out to students that may be interested in a future career in student affairs. On Wednesday, October 2, various student affairs directors will be mentoring interested students as we do a “Day on the Job.”  We will be inviting students to do a full day of job shadowing, leadership conferencing and service to the community.  If your student is interested, they can fill out the form located on the Dean of Student’s website.


How Parents Can Encourage Their Shy Student to Find Meaningful Connections at Aquinas College

By: Ben Raterman, Counseling Services MSW Intern

The new school year at Aquinas has begun and the adjustment process for you and your student continues.  You may find your new role requires that you let go and allow your student to explore new interests and friendships while at the same time providing your student the care and support he or she needs.  This can be especially difficult when your student is shy or struggling to find his or her place on campus with friends or in a group or club.


Some students, especially those who are shy, respond to loneliness by hiding in their residential rooms and calling and coming home at every opportunity.  These strategies may seem most comfortable, but will not be helpful in the long run.  Parents can be a secure base for their student while at the same time offering them support as they make new friends through such things as joining organizations and getting involved with campus and community activities and events. 


Saint Stock

Aquinas College and the city of Grand Rapids offer many great resources to help students with all different interests and personalities find meaningful connection with others.  Below is an example of a few: 

  • Registered Student Organizations:  There are more than 70 Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) that allow like-minded students to come together for a common goal or interest.  Encourage your student to visit the Campus Life office at the Cook-Carriage House or the RSO website to learn more.  Campus Life also has connections to other opportunities that may not be directly related to a Registered Student Organization.  When in doubt, students can go to Campus Life and they will make sure they get connected in some way.
  • Campus Events:  Aquinas College is what is known as a seven-day campus with scheduled activities planned every day of the week, including weekends.  Students can check out the Campus Events Calendar for more information.  
  • Service Learning:  Campus Ministry offers many opportunities for students to be involved in Service-Learning through volunteer opportunities locally, throughout the U.S. and even abroad.   
  • Intramural Sports: Intramurals provide students, faculty, and staff with a comfortable environment for participation in intramural sports, recreation, and physical fitness.
  • Grand Rapids Community Events: Grand Rapids is a wonderful city full of diversity and fun things to do. You can encourage your student to invite a friend and enjoy time outside the classroom. GR Now and MLive publicize many events taking place in the community. 

You can be assured that your student is surrounded by other students who are also looking for meaningful connections with others. Help your student see the opportunities he or she has at Aquinas to connect with Campus Life, the counseling department, or Campus Ministry. When your next call or text is not responded to immediately, take it as a good sign that they're too busy to talk right now and on their way to forming important and meaningful connections at college.


Get AQuainted Days - Fun and Pun Intended!

By Heather Hall, Director of Campus Life

The start of the academic year is a very special time at Aquinas. Not only do tons of student leader volunteers share their time and talents and help acclimate our first year students during  new student orientation, but the entire campus comes alive for the two weeks referred to as “Get AQuainted Days.”

Welcome Weeks on college campuses are very common, but Get AQuainted Days sets us apart. All students at Aquinas are invited to a diverse array of events where faculty, staff, and students interact, receive discounts, participate in various activities, and experience the Aquinas and West Michigan communities. Events are sponsored from various parts of our campus, and, while mostly social, these events are an opportunity for continued learning about the overall community where our students live and learn. We teach our students how to utilize the public transportation in Grand Rapids, The Rapid

Get AQuainted Days

(now only $0.25 with an AQ ID), provide walking tours of Eastown and Gaslight Village (complete with ice cream of course!), offer wellness opportunities and group fitness programs as well as  recreational opportunities with pick-up games and structured tournaments. The Aquinas College Programming Board organizes an open mic night where the AQ talent pours from the Moose Café and our annual drive-in movie featuring some new releases and college favorites.

The Saints’ Squad, our superfans, took to the bleachers at the AQ Athletic Field with signs and face paint to kick off the men’s and women’s soccer seasons. The Sophomore Student Senators welcomed their class back for an ice cream social to reconnect with their friends and catch up after the summer hiatus.  Campus Life offered free tickets to the West Michigan Whitecaps, discounted movie tickets for our new “Friday Night Flick” program at Woodland Mall/Celebration Cinema, and offered free transportation and a discounted ticket to Michigan’s Adventure amusement park during Labor Day weekend.  

Our crafty students enjoyed a Pinterest party where students decorated door decs for their residence halls or apartment doors and repurposed t-shirts at our first AQPB craft night. The Campus Life and Campus Ministry departments offered our annual Saints’ Stock program where students interacted with over 100 vendors from campus and the community to see what options are available to them with registered student organizations and community partnerships. We had a Progressive Party across campus where students went from building to building to hear live music from the music department, participate in an activity with Campus Safety, find balance with the Career & Counseling Services Department and enter into a raffle for lunch with President Olivarez (plus much more!). The week ended with the Welcome Back Bash offered by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion that invited all of our students to a social and food before the men’s soccer game and the many opportunities at Celebration on the Grand in Grand Rapids. 

Get AQuainted Days set the tone for our students by offering many activities at various times and for various interests. Students were in a position to not ask “what is there to do around campus,” but “what am I going to pick from this list?”  Our student activities are many and often and we believe that Get AQuainted Days offered our new and returning Saints with a lot of options to connect or reconnect with the many people and places that make AQ a special home.


The Class of 2017 – By the Numbers
Class of 2017



In August 2013, Aquinas welcomed its fourth largest freshman class in history of the College with 453 new students. This group has the highest academic profile on record with an average 3.5 GPA and 24 ACT composite.  30 of these students have come from seven states outside of Michigan.  And our overall traditional enrollment is over 1,600 for the fall semester.  We are looking forward to a great start to the semester!


Birthday Cakes Delivered


Check out any one of these bakers and deliver a birthday celebration right to your students’ residence hall room!


Birthday Cakes Delivered

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October 2010 August 2010 March 2010 January 2010
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