Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula installed Thomas E. Dillon as president Saturday in the first inauguration ceremony in the college’s 20-year history.
Dillon, who has served as president of the tiny Roman Catholic school since January, was officially installed in a program at which Los Angeles Archbishop Roger M. Mahony presided.
Dillon succeeds Ronald P. McArthur, the college’s president since 1971 and one of its founders. McArthur retired in January.
About 400 people attended the hourlong ceremony, said Kevin Kolbeck, dean of the college. “It went very smoothly. For our first time, it was amazing.”
In a speech, Dillon assured his audience that the goals of the college would not drastically change, Kolbeck said. “He wasn’t seeing himself as changing the school,” Kolbeck said. “He will be staying the course.”
The school, in the foothills of Los Padres National Forest, has about 200 students. Its four-year curriculum is based on the so-called Great Books of Western civilization, including classic works of literature, philosophy, science, math and music. The college has won praise from Barron’s College Guide, the Wall Street Journal and the National Review.
Dillon has an undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., and graduate degrees from the University of Notre Dame. A Thomas Aquinas faculty member since 1972, Dillon served as the school’s dean for 10 years and has continued to teach part time since becoming president, officials said.