St. Thomas Aquinas College, Sparkill, NY
“To Enlighten the Mind through Truth”
With a Dominican reverence for study and a commitment to provide the best education possible for their students, the Sisters placed great importance on preparing Sisters for the ministry of teaching. In 1952, the Board of Regents of the State of New York granted approval for the Congregation to operate a teacher education program for the Sisters. Thus began St. Thomas Aquinas College, named for the eminent medieval Dominican scholar and theologian.
In its earliest years, the Dominican Sisters administered and served as the faculty of St. Thomas Aquinas College. Within 15 years, however, STAC had added buildings, expanded course offerings to accommodate the granting of the various degrees, and opened its doors to include lay women and men. By the late 1960s, STAC was well on the way to becoming the premier institution of higher education it is today. The years of hard work and sacrifice and the substantial financial risks that the congregation had undertaken to ensure a future for STAC have borne much fruit. The Sisters have seen their hopes fulfilled in the subsequent growth and expansion of the College under the exemplary leadership of the Board of Trustees to whom the Congregation entrusted the College so many years ago.
Today, STAC is a thriving residential college offering students a choice of over 100 undergraduate majors, minors, and specializations, and graduate programs in education, business, and criminal justice. In keeping with the Sisters’ commitment to provide quality education for those who might otherwise not be able to afford college, 85% of STAC students receive financial aid to pursue their education.
Dominican Sisters continue to serve on STAC’s Board of Trustees, and the congregation celebrates STAC’s strong commitment to forming compassionate leaders who are socially responsible and spiritually grounded. Students are afforded numerous opportunities to do their part in building a better, more just society and to gain valuable experience in concrete actions of community service that reflect the Dominican values on which the College was founded. As future leaders of the world they will shape, the students become articulate members of society, truly prepared to “preach the good news of the Gospel” by living out their Alma Mater’s motto—Illuminare mentem per veritatem: “To Enlighten the Mind through Truth.” This is indeed the hope the Dominican Sisters have for each graduating class that has gathered in Sacred Heart Chapel for the annual Baccalaureate Mass since that first graduating class of thirty Sisters in 1958.
The Sisters are proud of STAC, and the sentiment is mutual. It did not take long for the Sister graduates to be prepared to teach not only at the elementary and secondary school levels, but to serve as university professors and administrators in institutions across the country. Their contributions to higher education have extended the impact of St. Thomas Aquinas College far beyond what the congregation could have imagined in 1952!