Notable Deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

April 19, 2009

THOMAS DILLON, 62

President of Thomas Aquinas College

Thomas Dillon, the president of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., who during his 18-year time in office defended the school's strict adherence to Catholic dogma and a curriculum emphasizing the "great books" of Western civilization, died Wednesday in a car accident in Ireland.

Dr. Dillon was in Limerick, Ireland, to attend a meeting of the International Council of Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was accompanied by his wife, Terri, who was hospitalized with minor injuries, according to a college spokeswoman.

Dr. Dillon joined the faculty in 1972, a year after the college was founded. After serving as assistant dean for student affairs and academic dean, he was named president in 1991.

Over the next two decades, Dr. Dillon raised $100 million for the college and oversaw its rise to one of the country's top-ranked liberal arts institutions. Under his leadership, enrollment tripled to its current size of 350 students, and nine campus buildings were added.

Unlike nearly every other liberal arts college in the country, Thomas Aquinas awards degrees based on the study of the so-called great books by Homer, Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, Herodotus, Euclid and other classical thinkers. All students read the original texts.

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