Aquinas Institute of Theology, a graduate school on the campus of Saint Louis University, has reached a preliminary agreement with a St. Louis developer to rehab an industrial building in Midtown St. Louis. The space at 3701 Forest Park Parkway will become a seminary and graduate school in Fall 2005.
Growth at the Dominican-sponsored school makes the move necessary. The 16,000 square feet of space at 3642 Lindell Blvd. is not enough to house the expanding programs and staff at Aquinas Institute. The new site, about an eighth of a mile southwest, contains 38,000 square feet.
The board of trustees for Aquinas Institute authorized a capital campaign to finance the new building. Details of the campaign are not yet finalized.
The move will not affect the school’s relationship with Saint Louis University. SLU students will be able to cross-register for courses at Aquinas Institute, and Aquinas students will have access to SLU classes as well as services such as the university library, computer center and fitness center.
“The ink is not yet on the paper,” said Fr. Charles Bouchard, O.P., president of Aquinas Institute, “but the move is all but a certainty. We’ve outgrown our building.”
Aquinas Institute welcomed 96 new students this fall – the largest first-year class in the school’s 79-year history. Among the group were nine first-year student brothers – or Dominican seminarians. They comprised the largest seminarian class in almost 30 years. The Central Province of Dominicans, which sponsors Aquinas Institute, has 18 men preparing for ordination at the school. Total enrollment is 295.
Fr. Michael Mascari, O.P., provincial, said the leadership of the Central Province is thrilled with plans to move.
“It is central to the Dominican charism to go where the need is great,” he said. “The fact that Aquinas continues to grow is evident that the need is there indeed. The province is delighted to be present in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and provide a sound theological education to the women and men who serve in the archdiocese’s parishes, schools and agencies.”
Aquinas Institute moved into its current space – the former SLU law school – in 1981. It expects to make the next move in October 2005.
The first occupant of the factory at 3701 Forest Park was Standard Adding Machine in 1903. The building most recently housed Harrison/Williams Fixtures. As the new Aquinas Institute, it will feature a chapel, expanded library, classrooms, offices and a reading/meditation space for students.