NORTHFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A California-based Catholic college has plans to open a new campus in Franklin County in the fall of next year. Thomas Aquinas College announced Tuesday that they have reached a preliminary agreement with the National Christian Foundation to receive a 217-acre campus formerly belonging to the Northfield-Mount Hermon School.
Years after Northfield-Mount Hermon consolidated their operations to their main campus in Gill in 2005, the property was sold to Hobby Lobby Stores, which entrusted it to the National Christian Foundation- with hopes that the campus would be used for Christian education. In 2012, Grand Canyon University, a for-profit Christian college, had plans to invest $150 million in the property and create a satellite campus there, but that plan was abandoned.
Thomas Aquinas College wants to make the Northfield property a satellite campus as well, with hopes of eventually being able to accommodate 400 students. The first classes would be much smaller, however, with only about 36 freshmen for the first four years. On-campus features would include dormitories, science and music buildings, athletic facilities, and a library. They also plan to make use of the campus chapel for Mass.
In a news release sent to 22News, Thomas Aquinas College President Dr. Michael F. McLean expressed gratitude to the National Christian Foundation for giving them the gift of the Northfield campus, as well as a matching $5 million grant to launch their program there. He also said that he received encouraging words from Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, who wrote a letter offering any assistance he can provide.
“We are greatly encouraged by Bishop Rozanski’s warm welcome and pledge of assistance. We look forward to working with His Excellency, with the Town of Northfield, and with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to expand our mission of Catholic liberal education at this new branch campus. With God’s help, we will provide even more young people the intellectual, moral, and spiritual formation they need to serve the Church and our country well,” McLean said.
Founded in 1971, Thomas Aquinas College is a small liberal arts college located in Santa Paula, California. It has just a little more than 350 undergraduate students.