College receives $2.2M gift

College receives $2.2M gift

Aquinas College in Grand Rapids is a Catholic liberal arts school, founded in 1886. Photo via

A family estate has given a $2.2-million gift to a college for a variety of programs.

Allocating funds

Aquinas College in Grand Rapids said today that the gift from the Helen Palmatier estate will be allocated toward a number of inter-disciplinary degree options, such as developing a social justice-focused program.

Aquinas is still working on the final details for the entire gift, but some of the funding will be used to create a program dedicated to peace studies, an endowed professorship and support the business program, according to Greg Meyer, VP and executive director, Aquinas College Foundation.

As a Catholic and Dominican institution, Meyer said developing a program around peace studies fits in well with the philosophy and mission of the college.

“Social justice is important here,” Meyer said. “It just fits in with our mission of who we are. It just adds another piece to it, being able to endow another professorship. It was just an unbelievably generous gift for the college.”

Palmatier legacy

Palmatier passed away on April 2, 2014 and was preceded in death by her husband, Jackman Palmatier, who died in 1981.

The $2.2-million financial gift from the Helen Palmatier estate was the latest in philanthropic support the Palmatiers had donated to Aquinas over the years, since their first contribution in 1993.

“They have supported through annual gifts, both in political science and in the business area,” Meyer said. “They were just very strong advocates for the college.”

The Palmatiers donated to the annual fund, fundraising events and supported the sustainable business program.

Helen Palmatier also established a scholarship fund in 2000 to assist full-time Aquinas College students in pursuing a major in political science.

The Jackman Palmatier Scholarship Fund granted qualified recipients a minimum of $1,000 a year and also provided funding for speakers and special projects in the political science department. The scholarship fund was previously donated on an annual basis and now is endowed through the Palmatier estate, according to Meyer.

The Aquinas College Foundation also indicated Helen Palmatier was a member of the Aquinas College Giving Saint Catherine of Siena Society, based on an annual contribution ranging from $1,500 to $4,999 for the 2012-2013 academic year.


Aquinas College was established by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids in 1886.

Its vision emphasizes career preparation with a focus on leadership and service in developing a sustainable and just global community.

The college has roughly 60 different academic programs, including business, community leadership, environmental studies, master of sustainable business, political science, pre-law and international studies. 

No posts to display