CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. (Jan. 20, 2022) — Thomas More University President Joseph L. Chillo, LP.D., kicked off the spring semester speaking to the campus community in a State of the University Address on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, about investments and initiatives that will drive the University’s commitment to become the premier Catholic liberal arts institution in the region. In the address, held via Zoom, Chillo spoke about upcoming work to accomplish goals set in the Strategic Plan: Lighting Way, which is focused on student success, academic excellence and innovation, and responsible stewardship, and the Second Century Campaign: It’s time for More, a comprehensive capital campaign designed to support the success of the Strategic Plan.
The University is expanding its geographical footprint, as bids are currently being collected for a new academic center, a 34,000 square foot building which will house advanced technology and improved classroom environments and be home to a 375-seat auditorium, a technology and prototype lab, the Dr. Anthony ’65 & Geraldine ’66 Zembrodt Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the Center for Faith, Mission, and Catholic Education, and the College of Business. A video rendering of the new building was shared with the campus community, with construction set to begin in spring or early summer of 2022. The University has also acquired 207 and 209 Thomas More Parkway, with plans to relocate select non-student facing offices to these buildings in March, allowing the Saints Center to transition back to a true student center with enhanced academic and co-curricular spaces.
Thomas More athletics is also preparing to move forward with an official application to NCAA Division II in February 2022. It has been a year of victories for Thomas More athletics as 330 student-athletes were named to the Athletic Director Honor Roll for their GPA achievements in fall 2021, the women’s and men’s basketball teams were ranked nationally in the top 10 in the NAIA Top-25 Coaches Poll simultaneously for the first time in Saints’ history, and the men’s rugby team brought home the NRCA Division II National Championship title. Look for a major announcement in the coming weeks as the University finalizes plans to further expand athletic facilities and student athlete opportunities.
“Our commitment to student success and our University must remain at the center of all we do,” says Chillo, citing the ability to keep spring semester on track as “demonstrating that commitment, but more importantly also demonstrating the very important role that shared governance and inclusive decision-making play at Thomas More.” The University has been able to maintain omicron cases at the low alert threshold since the spring semester began thanks to the Healthy at Thomas More safety protocols, a culture of responsive and constant monitoring, and an enhanced response plan including communication and input from public officials and the higher education community.
President Chillo reassured the Thomas More community that “leadership has managed the pandemic well” with financial resources and expenses. Steps have been taken to improve the financial position of the University as well as invest to improve the academic and co-curricular experiences of students. Fall 2021 brought the first increase in net tuition revenue in years, allowing Thomas More to deposit funds into financial reserves. The University was also able to achieve a perfect 3.0 U.S. Department of Education composite index for the first time in its history. The Second Century (Capital) Campaign – It’s time for More also hit major milestones, raising almost $21 million for a new academic center, endowed scholarships, renovations to facilities, and other strategic priorities. This achievement places Thomas More close to 18 months ahead of schedule for its fundraising objective of $30 million. While the capital campaign is generating funds to help support several strategic initiatives, the University’s endowment has also seen substantial growth. A combination of positive market returns and philanthropic gifts has seen the endowment grow by more than 65% over the past two years. And finally, Thomas More was able to invest in faculty and staff during the course of 2021 with a modest salary increase in early 2021 and another at the end of the calendar year, as well as reinstatement of the 403(b) match to employee contributions for those who participate in this retirement vehicle.
Thomas More University is set to continue this momentum into the upcoming fall semester, with rising admissions, applications, and acceptance numbers. A core curriculum redesign is underway to create the future of student learning at Thomas More with hopes to see a compact, cross-disciplinary, mission and diversity fused core in place by the start of the 2024-25 academic year. Faculty searches in several key academic disciplines are moving forward this spring, and the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Scholarship is set to launch in fall 2022. The Digital, Graduate and Professional Programs is also witnessing an increase in admissions as they responded to employer needs by introducing a non-credit micro-credential and badge product. Launched in November 2021 this online learning vehicle currently features 55 topics that help improve highly-desired skills, with plans to add more in the coming year.
“We must continue to demonstrate not just the value of an educated citizenship,” says President Chillo, “but the value and benefits of having students who can examine the ultimate meaning of life, their place in the world, and their responsibility to others. We must continue to invest in our students, and we must continue to place a high emphasis on student success.”
For more information about Thomas More University, visit www.thomasmore.edu.
About Thomas More University
For 100 years, Thomas More has created a university for the student who wants to Be More, Do More, Seek More, Win More, Achieve More, and Create More. Since its founding in 1921, Thomas More has provided a mission-driven, liberal arts education that is based in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Students learn to harness the power of human reason to solve problems and discover truth, which allows them to begin the journey to become the person they were created to be. Entering into the second century, it’s time for More. Serving more than 2,000 students, Thomas More aspires to be the premier Catholic university in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, to build upon the #1 ranking for long term gain in Kentucky (2019 Georgetown study) and share with this generation the transformative power of the Thomas More experience. To find out more, visit thomasmore.edu.
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