College selects president

College selects president

Kevin Quinn. Courtesy Aquinas College

A local college has selected a new president who loves learning and has the experience to prove it, from working in the aerospace industry to studying marketing and economics.

Aquinas College said today it hired Kevin Quinn as the eighth president in the Catholic institution’s 131-year history, effective July 1.

Quinn is the dean of the Schneider School of Business and Economics at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

He will replace President Juan Olivarez, who announced last August his intention to retire in June.

Donald Burns, chair of the Aquinas Board of Trustees, said he’s “proud” to announce Quinn’s appointment.

“Dr. Quinn not only has proven experience in higher education leadership, but is a man of strong Catholic faith and has shown throughout the selection process that he is committed to the values of Aquinas,” Burns said.

The college will host an inauguration ceremony some time this fall.

“One of the many things that drew me to Aquinas was the strong connection to the Dominican pillars, especially its sense of community,” Quinn said.

“It is the honor of a lifetime to become a part of the distinguished history of Aquinas College and of the long selfless service of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids. I look forward to building upon the great work of President Olivarez in enhancing the school’s academic distinction, student experience and affordability.”

Quinn’s background

Quinn has served at St. Norbert College since 1994 and helped found the Schneider School of Business and Economics in 2014.

Before that, he served as the college’s associate academic dean, as associate dean of the social sciences and coordinator for the economics discipline.

He led the revitalization of St. Norbert College’s general education curriculum and served as the founding director of the Sport and Society Conference series co-produced with the Green Bay Packers.

Quinn has also taught at Loyola University in Chicago and the University of Illinois-Chicago, or UIC.

His primary research focus lately has been in the field of sports economics. One of his books, “Sports and Their Fans,” examines the history, economics and culture of the relationship between spectator and sport.

A native of the Chicago area, Quinn holds a B.S. in physics and mathematics from Loyola and an M.B.A. in marketing and economics from UIC.

Before earning his Ph.D. in energy and environmental economics from UIC, he worked in the private sector in the aerospace and medical imaging industries.

Olivarez’s tenure

Aquinas’ president since 2011, Olivarez will continue to work with the Aquinas Foundation on the college’s $58-million comprehensive campaign.

During Olivarez’s time at Aquinas, he initiated a strategic planning process that resulted in initiatives for improvement college-wide. The college also developed a campus master plan and an academic master plan.

Under his leadership, Aquinas was named to the president’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013 and 2014. This national designation is the highest honor a college can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service learning and civic engagement.


Founded in 1886, Aquinas College is a Catholic liberal arts school established by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids.

The wooded 117-acre campus is located in southeast Grand Rapids.

With nearly 2,000 students and 63 academic programs, Aquinas said it “emphasizes career preparation, leadership, service to others and lifelong learning.”

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