Aquinas College scholarship fund exceeds $1 million

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The scholarship fund, which was named in honor of chancellor emerita Sister Mary Aquinas Weber O.P., is used to help students with financial needs. Courtesy Aquinas College

Aquinas College’s newest and largest scholarship fund created by alumni and friends surpassed $1 million.

The scholarship fund, which was named in honor of chancellor emerita Sister Mary Aquinas Weber O.P., is used to help students with financial needs. This semester, 50 students received scholarship awards to address new financial needs due to COVID-19.

“Sister Aquinas is viewed by many as the embodiment of the spirit of Aquinas College. We wanted to do something to let her know how important she is,” said Lt. General John Nowak, trustee emeritus, alumnus and honorary co-chair of the Sister Mary Aquinas Weber, O.P. ’58 Endowed Scholarship Committee. “This is a fund that will stand forever. We’d love for it to become the largest endowed scholarship at Aquinas because we are talking about the largest and most iconic figure.”

At 97 years old, Weber has been serving the college and the greater Grand Rapids community for more than 75 years, developing professional and personal relationships with the Grand Rapids business community for the benefit of the college.

“I cannot think of a more meaningful way to honor a woman who has dedicated so much of herself to students at Aquinas and their study,” Aquinas President Kevin G. Quinn said. “She is a treasure, and I am delighted to see her honored this way. It says a lot about her and this committee’s admiration of her that they have been able to accomplish raising a fund of this size during these challenging times.”

Weber took the name Sister Mary Aquinas in 1945 after she took her vows as a Dominican Sister. She served as a principal in schools in Bay City and Detroit and returned to Grand Rapids in the early 1960s. She became a directress of Student Sisters and in 1966, she became a prioress.

She joined Aquinas College by becoming the director of what was then known as the Neighborhood Project, later Eastown Neighborhood Association and Eastown Business Association. In her role, Weber worked with bankers and business leaders to revitalize the Eastown business district. She later became the first woman to serve on the board of trustees of Old Kent Bank, now Fifth Third Bank.

In the 1980s, Weber directed Aquinas College’s Emeritus College before becoming vice president for development. She was named chancellor of the college in 1983 before she was in her current position.

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