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Thomas Aquinas approval process still on track



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, April 04, 2018

NORTHFIELD — Although Thomas Aquinas College will not open its Northfield campus this fall as its administrators had previously hoped, the school’s timeline for approval from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education is still within what the state officials considers normal.

“Massachusetts requires extensive oversight and assurance that an institution is meeting the Board of Higher Education’s rigorous standards,” said Katy Abel, associate commissioner for external affairs at the Department of Higher Education. “(Thomas Aquinas College) has been aware of our process and procedures from the beginning.”

Thomas Aquinas College submitted its complete application to the Board of Higher Education on April 18, 2017.

Abel said that approval for a new institution takes anywhere from 285 to 540 days, and that the average approval time is 404 days, approximately 13.5 months.

The college’s administrators had hoped to open the Northfield campus for the fall of 2018, “despite admittedly long odds,” as Thomas Aquinas President Michael F. McLean said in a press release dated March 22. “It has become clear, however, that the project requires a more generous timeline.”

The Department of Higher Education had never promised Thomas Aquinas administrators that the approval process would accommodate the administrators’ hopes for a fall 2018 opening.

The Department of Higher Education cannot share specific details about the school’s approval process, but Abel said that it is “nearing the final phase.”

Thomas Aquinas Director of College Relations Anne Forsyth said that even if the school could receive approval to open for this fall, it would now be too late to do all that would be necessary to prepare the campus for students.

“We very much hope that we will receive approval well in advance of our now proposed opening in fall 2019,” Forsyth said.

Contact Max Marcus
at: mmarcus@recorder.com