Calif. college announces first faculty, administrator for Northfield campus

  • The Stone Hall and other buildings on the former Northfield Mount Hermon campus in Northfield may be used again in the near future. recorder file photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/16/2017 11:38:32 PM

NORTHFIELD — Thomas Aquinas College has announced the first four faculty and an admissions counselor who will oversee its new Northfield campus.

Last month, the National Christian Foundation, which has overseen the former Northfield Mount Hermon School campus since 2012, announced its plans to give the core campus to Thomas Aquinas College, a Roman Catholic liberal arts college in Santa Paula, Calif., come May 2.

With hopes of offering its first classes on the Northfield campus in the fall of 2018, Thomas Aquinas College administrators have hit the ground running in terms of their planning efforts.

Thomas Aquinas College President Michael McLean announced that Thomas Kaiser, Michael Augros, Patrick Gardner, Phillip Wodzinski and Patrick Cross will be the first five individuals to oversee the Northfield campus. Cross, who has worked in the Santa Paula campus’ admissions office for three years, will serve as admissions counselor, and Kaiser, a 35-year member of the teaching faculty, will head the initial Northfield group as associate dean.

“All have demonstrated an admirable willingness to take on the challenge of opening and managing a new campus in New England, and I am very confident that with a team of this quality we will be successful,” McLean is quoted as saying in a Thomas Aquinas College press release.

The majority of McLean’s appointees have roots in New England, either having grown up or having gone to college in the region and they all have great hopes for a Northfield campus.

Kaiser, who holds the distinction of having taught all 23 courses in the college’s classical curriculum and served for eight years as assistant dean, is also a member of Thomas Aquinas College’s first graduating class.

“As a member of the first class on our original campus, I know what it will be like for our first students in New England, and that should be helpful in getting us off to a good start,” Kaiser is quoted as saying on the college’s website. “I think it will be an adventure and a challenge.”

“He’s widely respected and very well loved among our faculty here, the parents and really the whole community,” Director of College Relations Anne Forsyth said of why Kaiser was chosen to head the Northfield group.

Augros, Gardner and Wodzinski will act as tutors, which is how Thomas Aquinas College administrators refer to their faculty members. In addition to being associate dean, Kaiser will also teach. However, the subjects the four will be responsible for teaching have yet to be decided, Forsyth said.

“They’re all prepared to teach all the courses,” Forsyth said, which is part of the reason the four were selected.

Should the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education approve Thomas Aquinas College’s application to teach at the Northfield campus, Forsyth said the faculty should arrive sometime in the summer of 2018, with the exception of Cross, who is expected to arrive before Aug. 1 to begin recruiting students.

Forsyth said administrators chose to draw from the Santa Paula campus’ faculty and staff in order to ensure congruence between the two campuses in terms of residential life, academics and recreation.

“We’re thinking that the best way to do that is to send those that have been living in this community and know from experience the parts that are essential to making it work,” she said.

Forsyth said the Santa Paula campus has 37 tutors and 35 administrators, and will continue to hire new faculty to fill in the gaps left by the five individuals who will oversee the Northfield campus.


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