Thomas More University at 100

Thomas More University at 100

Purpose, People, and Pathways to Student Successes

Written by Raymond G. Herbert, Thomas S. Ward, David E. Schroeder            Editor: Paul A. Tenkotte

          Founded in 1921, Villa Madonna College (VMC) evolved from a Benedictine teachers' college to a diocesan women's college staffed by three Catholic women's religious orders, then to a coeducational institution, and ultimately, to Thomas More University. In those early decades, the Great Depression of the 1930s plummeted the world into economic chaos, World War II plunged humanity into the horrors of modern warfar, and the Cold War cast a long shadow of instability. Beset by worldwide trials and tribulations, colleges hunkered down, and did their best to keep their doors open. Not all institutions would survive the economic and political rollercoaster rides or the 20th century. 

          Fortunately, Villa Madonna College did survive, held together by dedicated religious sisters, priests, lay faculty, administrators, and staff who sacrificed worldly riches to champion academic excellence and student success from the very core of their beings. The VMC campus itself was an unassuming assemblage of 19th and early-20th century buildings in Covington repurposed as classrooms and laboratories, a commuter campus located along electric street car (later, bus) lines, within blocks of the Ohio and Licking Rivers and within view of the bustling city of Cincinnati. Ironically, the campus reflected the students themselves-thrifty yet focused working-class people, some newly arrived imigrants and others first generation Americans-determined to better themselves and their community. VMC helped launche them into the American middle class. 

          After World War II, VMC became coeducational, and President Rev. John Murphy led the journey from its landlocked urban footprint to a sprawling new campus. In 1968, with President Lyndon Baines Johnson in attendance for its dedication, the Crestview Hills, Kentucky campus became the home of the newly remaned Thomas MOre College (TMC). Additional buildings and academic degrees extra-curricular activities and sports, dormitories and residential life, cooperative education and internships, graduate and online programs, and faculty and student research opportunities followed across the next decades. Now as Thomas More University, the history of ow a small diocesan college staffed by three separate women's religious orders embraced the changes and challenges facing it, is an American story. Despite its growth, some key characteristics remain the same. Dedicated faculty nad staff are still at the heart of the university as are th eadministrators, trustees, alumni, and benefactors committed to its mission. And Thomas More University continues to embody-and celebrate-the purpose, peopl, and pathways to its ultimate goal, that of student success. It continues to energize the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region and to launch its students to new horizons of growth and opportunities they may never have imagined.

- Paul A. Tenkotte, PhD, Editor

- Judith A. Marlowe, PhD, Chair Thomas More University Board of Trustees