Thomas Aquinas College Mourns Loss of Founder

In Memoriam: Dr. Ronald P. McArthur (1924 – 2013)

Four decades ago, Dr. Ronald P. McArthur made an enormous leap of faith. Leaving his home and a good job behind, he moved some 400 miles to become the founding president of Thomas Aquinas College. Now the College mourns the loss of the man who led it from its nascence to its firm establishment as an institution widely recognized for academic excellence and fidelity to the teaching Church.

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Dr. MacArthur, TAC’s Founder, with students, 1976.

“The entire community is united in prayer for Dr. McArthur,” says Dr. Michael F. McLean, president of the private, coeducational College in Santa Paula, Calif. “We pray, first, for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his wife, Marilyn, but we also offer a deep, heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving for this good, holy man.”

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TAC’s Founder (top row, middle) at their original, leased campus with Class of 1978 — the College’s fourth graduating class.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Dr. McArthur earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at St. Mary’s College, Moraga (Calif.) and doctorate in philosophy at Laval University in Quebec. He then returned to San Francisco where, over the next two decades, he taught at several area colleges. During this time he formed close relationships with the men who would become his co-founders of Thomas Aquinas College. Lamenting the state of modern academia, they courageously decided to form their own college, and Dr. McArthur was named its first president in 1970.

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Dr. McArthur signing diplomas at commencement.

 After seeing Thomas Aquinas College grow in size and reputation, Dr. McArthur retired as president in 1991, following more than 20 years of devoted service. Yet much to the delight of the community, he returned to campus as a member of the teaching faculty in 2002, continuing on in this capacity until falling ill in 2011. With a heavy heart, he retired from teaching prior to the start of the 2012-13 academic year.

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Dr. McArthur at the inauguration of his former student, Dr. Michael McLean as president of TAC in 2010.


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