Aquinas College Announces 2023 Commencement Speaker

Sister Mary Aquinas Weber, O.P. ‘58, the Chancellor Emerita of Aquinas College, will serve as speaker at the Aquinas commencement ceremony honoring the Class of 2023 on May 13, 2023. Sister Aquinas has served all 9 presidents in the history of Aquinas College, from Monsignor Arthur F. Bukowski to Alicia R. Córdoba, D.M.A.. 

Born Lucille Weber, Sister Aquinas chose to enter Marywood and become a Dominican Sister and first profession of vows in 1945. The Prioress and governing council gave her the name Sister Mary Aquinas Weber after a deceased Sister who had a passion for education. She graduated from Aquinas College with a Bachelor’s degree in history and English in 1958 and went on to work as a teacher and principal at schools in East Grand Rapids, New Salem, Bay City, and Taylor.

In 1960, she was called back to Marywood by Mother Victor Flannery to become Director of the House of Studies, the current Hruby Hall, supervising the progress of 75 young Sisters who had taken their first vows. Just six years later, she would be elected Prioress of the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids, the youngest person to ever assume that  role, and lead the Sisters through the changes of the Second Vatican Council.

While at Aquinas College, she has served as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, liaison between Eastown businesses and the College, Co-founder and Director of the Emeritus College now known as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) of Aquinas College, Vice-President for  Development, Chancellor, and currently Chancellor Emerita. She has technically retired five times, but continues to return to the College, feeling she has more to give. The relationships she has developed with faculty, staff, business leaders, and community organizations have made her a true champion of the College.

In addition, Sister Aquinas has served on several boards around the community: the YMCA, Saint John’s Home, The Gleaners of West Michigan, Porter Hills Presbyterian Village, The Hugh Michael Beahan Foundation, The Porter Hills Foundation, the Salvation Army, Hospice of Michigan- Greater Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Housing Authority, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and she was the first woman to serve on the board of Old Kent Bank and Trust Financial Corporation, now known as 5/3rd. 

Her many awards include Notre Dame Club Honoree, the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Award, the Aquinas College Reflection Award, the Sr. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award from Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, the National Kidney Foundation Galaxy Award, the Grand Rapids Rotary Award, the Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank Award, the Salvation Army Award, the Porter Hills Foundation Award, the Hugh Michael Beahan Foundation Award, the Edward J. Frey Sr. Distinguished Achievement Award from the Junior Achievement West Michigan Business Hall of Fame, the President’s Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, an Honorary Doctorate from Aquinas College, and the Slykhouse Lifetime Achievement Award from the Economic Club of Grand Rapids.