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Thomas More University
Thomas More University Logo.jpeg
Former names
Villa Madonna College (1921–1968)
Thomas More College (1968–2018)
TypePrivate university
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Benedictine Sisters)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$38 million
PresidentJoseph L. Chillo
Location, ,
United States

39°01′18″N 84°34′05″W / 39.0217°N 84.5681°W / 39.0217; -84.5681Coordinates: 39°01′18″N 84°34′05″W / 39.0217°N 84.5681°W / 39.0217; -84.5681
Blue, Silver & White
Sporting affiliations
MascotTommy Mo

Thomas More University is a private Roman Catholic university in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. It serves about 2,000 full and part-time students. The university was founded in 1921 by the local Benedictine Sisters as Villa Madonna College.


The Benedictine Sisters of Covington, Kentucky, founded Villa Madonna College in 1921 to train Catholic school teachers and to provide college education for young women. The college was chartered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1923. Villa Madonna graduated its first students in 1929 and became the official college of the Diocese of Covington that same year. Three religious orders operated Villa Madonna in its early years: the Sisters of Notre Dame, the Congregation of Divine Providence, and the local Benedictine Sisters. Through the 1930s and early 1940s, the college grew slowly. The school year 1942–1943 closed with commencement exercises on June 4 with ten graduates. The number of graduates of the college including the 1943 class was 152.[2]

Although Villa Madonna was founded as an institution for women, men attended many of the same classes through the affiliated St. Thomas More College, a college-level program of Covington Latin School. In 1945, Villa Madonna was designated a co-educational college, and St. Thomas More College was abolished.[3] In that year the Diocese of Covington purchased the college. At the opening of classes in September 1945, Villa Madonna College enrolled 28 Sisters, 56 laywomen, and 28 men for a total of 112 students. As the college began to grow, facilities and classrooms were stretched to their limits. Several buildings owned by the Diocese of Covington were quickly secured for additional classrooms and offices. Over the next two decades, as enrollment and curriculum steadily grew, any available space was acquired and adapted for the college's use. Eventually, all available space was exhausted, and it was clear that a more spacious campus was needed.[4]

Campus buildings of Villa Madonna College include St. Joseph's Hall, St. Thomas More Hall,[5] Cabrini Hall,[5] St. Pius Hall, Talbott Hall, Cafeteria Annex, Columbus Hall (library), St. Jude Hall, Aquinas Hall,[5] Bernard Hall,[5] and St. Luke Hall (art department).[6]

In 1964, the school's chancellor, Bishop Richard Henry Ackerman, announced a building program. A growing co-educational institution, an expanding campus and the opportunity to serve a wider area made the move the natural choice. In 1968, the college was moved from downtown Covington to what is now Crestview Hills. In this same year, Ackerman announced that Villa Madonna College would be renamed "Thomas More College". The same year another Thomas More College opened – a woman's college of Jesuit Fordham University in New York which later merged with Fordham College as a co-educational college and dropped the Thomas More name.[7] Although the college was opened in January 1968, dedication ceremonies were held on September 28 with President Lyndon B. Johnson in attendance. The college serves 2,000 full- and part-time students. Although primarily from Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, students from roughly 20 states and several countries attend Thomas More.

Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education formally granted Thomas More university status in July 2018. On October 1, 2018, Thomas More College was officially renamed to Thomas More University and assumed university status, with full implementation of the name change taking place during the 2018–19 academic year.[8] Thomas More also began transitioning to a new organizational structure of three colleges:[9]


  1. Mary Domitilla Thuener (1921–1928)[10][11]
  2. Michael Leick (1928–1943)[10]
  3. Edmund Corby (1943–1944)[10]
  4. Thomas A. McCarty (1945–1949)[10]
  5. Joseph Z. Aud (1949–1951)[10]
  6. John F. Murphy (1951–1971)[10]
  7. Richard A. DeGraff (1971–1978)[10]
  8. Robert J. Giroux (1978–1982)[10]
  9. Thomas A. Coffey (1982–1985)[10]
  10. Charles J. Bensman (1986–1992)[10]
  11. William F. Cleves (1992–2001)[10]
  12. E. Joseph Lee II (2001–2004)[10]
  13. Margaret Stallmeyer (2005–2013)[10]
  14. David A. Armstrong (2013–2018)[12]
  15. Joseph L. Chillo (2019–present)[13]


The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).[14]

Thomas More University is licensed as a postsecondary institution by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

The university is a member of Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities, an organization including all of the accredited colleges and universities in the area. This consortium relationship gives students access to course offerings of the other institutions through a cross-registration arrangement as well as access to library resources of the other schools in the consortium.

Thomas More University is an approved institution with the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, which allows the University to provide our high-quality programs to students in other states via distance education.

Thomas More joined the United Nations Academic Impact program in 2021. The UNAI program aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations to support human rights, access to education, sustainability, and conflict resolution.

Centennial Celebration, Strategic Plan, and Capital Campaign

Thomas More University President, Dr. Joseph L. Chillo, LP. D., introduced Lighting the Way, the University’s new five-year strategic plan, in Fall 2021. He also announced the Second Century Campaign: It’s time for More, a $30 million campaign goal to solidify Thomas More University’s commitment to student success, academic innovation, and responsible stewardship. These plans are the result of a bold vision that honors the history of the University, celebrates the centennial anniversary and eyes a future of growth and prosperity.

The strategic plan, Lighting the Way, will serve as a blueprint for the next five years, outlining goals and aspirations that will lead the University into a future of transformation and growth.  Rooted in mission, values, and vision, the plan sets forth an ambitious agenda for students, community, and the institution. The initial phases include campus growth with the addition of a new 33,150 square foot, four-story, $14 million Academic Center. The new Academic Center will house the College of Business; Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, & Innovation; Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III ’67 Institution for Religious Liberty; and The Center for Faith, Mission, and Catholic Education. Further capital improvements will include transitioning The Saints Center back to its original designation as a student union, transforming it again into the gathering center for the campus and the community. Modifications to the Benedictine Library will integrate the Success Center under the same roof, creating a highly advanced, contemporary learning commons.

Lighting the Way, the strategic plan, incorporates the combination of facility growth and campus enhancements to provide University students additional opportunities for growth and prosperity.  Ultimately, the goal of Thomas More University is to deliver a superior educational experience with a Catholic framework of integrity, mission and faith.


Administrative Building
Houses the majority of administrative offices (except for athletics, campus ministry, and institutional advancement), faculty offices, some classrooms, the cafeteria, and the computer center.
Academic Building
Science Building
Four-story building that holds offices and classrooms for the Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, Psychology, and Education departments.
Connor Convocation Center[15]
The gym, training rooms, and athletics offices are housed in the Connor Convocation Center.
Saints Center
Transitioning back to a true student headquarters with enhanced academic and co-curricular spaces.
Benedictine Library
Beyond the library, this building houses the theatre and the Eva G. Farris Art Gallery.
Performing Arts Lab
Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel[16]
Academic Center
Currently under construction. It will house advanced technology and state-of-the-art classroom environments, a 375-seat auditorium, a technology and prototype lab, the Dr. Anthony ’65 & Geraldine ’66 Zembrodt Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the Center for Faith, Mission, and Catholic Education, and the College of Business.
Covington Hall
Houses a number of offices including Athletics, Finance, IT Administration, Institutional Research, and conference rooms.
Centennial Hall
Houses the office of Institutional Advancement.
St. Margaret Stallmeyer Hall
The newest addition to the residence hall system. Opened in Fall 2018, this traditional-style residence hall can house up to 96 students on three floors.
Marian Hall / Howard Hall[17]
Two connected residence halls that are co-ed.
Ackerman Hall[17]
Male-only residence hall.
Murphy Hall[17]
Co-ed suite-style residence hall.
Thomas More University Observatory[18]
Features computer-controlled telescopes, CCD digital imaging camera systems, and telescope-dedicated computer systems. The building incorporates a sliding roof and a climate-controlled computer room, for celestial observation projects.
Monte Casino Chapel
CAPE Building
Houses Digital, Graduate and Professional programs.
Biology Field Station[19]
Located in California, Ky., this one-of-a-kind facility sits on the Ohio River and is home to crucial biological and water quality research, monitoring potential threats to the local watershed including but not limited to pollution, algal blooms, and habitat destruction.

Thomas More University Success Center

Graduate and Accelerated Programs

The graduate programs at Thomas More University are specifically designed to meet the needs of people with busy lives. Graduate offerings include:

Thomas More's accelerated programs allow students to finish their bachelor’s degree in a shorter amount of time. Plus, online offerings help students balance their coursework, job, and family. Accelerated offerings include:

Student government

The student government of Thomas More University serves as the official representative of the student body. It is governed by its constitution and consists of an executive board, delegates at-large, and associates.


Thomas More athletic programs are known as the Saints. Thomas More University announced in July 2022 that they have been granted provisional membership to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II. Thomas More currently competes in the Mid-South Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Saints have been in the NAIA for the past two academic year and will retain NAIA membership until completion of the 2022-23 academic year. In preparation for applying to return to the NCAA, the University approached and was unanimously approved in summer 2021 for provisional membership to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC). With the successful bid in 2022 to rejoin the NCAA as a Division II competitor, the University will compete in the Great Midwest and be eligible for conference championships and tournaments beginning in the 2023-24 academic year. Following the mandatory transition period, the University would then become eligible for NCAA Championships during the 2025-26 year.

The Saints previously competed as a member of the Division III ranks of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the short-lived American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) during only the 2018–19 school year; as well as a member of the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) from 2005–06 to 2017–18. Thomas More had previously been members of the NAIA from 1947–48 to 1989–90.[21]

Thomas More has more than 700 student athletes and competes in 29 varsity sports programs including: Men's sports include archery, band, baseball, basketball, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, tennis, track & field, volleyball and wrestling; while women's sports include archery, band, basketball, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, dance, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball. In June 2022, Thomas More University announced the launch of esports, which joins the Saints intercollegiate athletics programs during the 2022-2023 academic year. The program will be part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). Esports encompasses competitive, organized video gaming.

Thomas More University and the Florence Y’alls Baseball Club partnered in March 2022 to rename the home of the Florence Y’alls “Thomas More Stadium.” As part of the agreement, the stadium will also become the home of the Thomas More Saints’ baseball team starting in spring 2023. Thomas More announced a major comprehensive fundraising campaign in Fall 2021 in support of a five-year strategic plan that includes enhanced athletic facilities for many of the Saints 29 sports teams. Additional plans are in place for other facility upgrades at the university that will affect additional Saints sports teams positively; renovations at Republic Bank Field and its track were completed in 2021.


Championship History

Regular Season Tournament Champions National Tournament Appearances
Baseball 1956, 1964, 1965, 1966, 2008, 2011, 2015, 2016 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2018 2000, 2003, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018
Men's Basketball 2009, 2010, 2017, 2018, 2022 1995, 1996, 2009, 2017, 2018 1959, 2009, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022
Women's Basketball 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
Competitive Dance 2022 2022
Football 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 1992, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016
Men's Golf 2010, 2017 2010, 2017
Women's Golf 2017 2017
Men's Indoor Track & Field 2017
Men's Rugby 2019, 2021 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021
Men's Soccer 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
Women's Soccer 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018            2003, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018.
Softball 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
Men's Tennis 1983, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2017, 2018 1983, 1984, 1986, 1989, 2017, 2018
Women's Volleyball 2007, 2009. 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 1985, 1986, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 1983, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018
Wrestling 2017 2021, 2022
National Championships
Women's Basketball 2016
Women's Basketball - Semifinalist 2018
Women's Basketball 2019
Women's Basketball - Runners-Up 2021
Women's Basketball 2022
Men's Basketball - Semifinalists 2022
Men's Rugby 2021
Lynn Thompson - Women's Golf Individual Champion 2002
Individual National Qualifiers
Women's Golf Lynn Thompson 2002
Men's Outdoor Track & Field Lucas Nare 2014 100 and 200-meter dash
Chris Wainscott 2021 Shot Put
Chris Wainscott 2022 Shot Put and Discus
Men's Indoor Track & Field Jacob Steinmetz 2020 Weight Throw
Chris Wainscott 2022 Weight Throw and Shot Put
Devin Webster 2022 Shot Put
Women's Outdoor Track & Field Christina Cook 2015, 16, 17, 18 400-meter run
Women's Indoor Track & Field Christina Cook 2017 400-meter run
Women's Cross Country Annabel Clayton 2019, 20-21, 21
Women's Swimming & Diving Shelby Miller 2020 200, 500 and 1650-yard freestyle
Wrestling Wilder Wichman 2020, 21, 22 157
Andrew Taylor 2020, 22 174
Avery Jones 2020 184
James Caniglia 2020 197
Shay Horton 2021, 22 125
Ryan Moore 2021, 22 141, 149
Daulton Mayer 2021, 22 197

Notable people


  1. ^ a b c As of fall 2016. "Student headcount by level: All independent institutions (2006-16)" (PDF). Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Commonwealth of Kentucky. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Sister Margaret Mary Gough (1930-221)". St. Walburg Monastery.
  3. ^ Covington Latin School, Kenton County Public Library, retrieved February 29, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Thomas Jefferson – Presidency, University, Facts, Political and Biography/; accessed December 28, 2014.
  6. ^ Northern Kentucky Views, Villa Madonna College,; accessed September 15, 2014.
  7. ^ Fordham University
  8. ^ Thomas More has new name, but remains the same institution,; accessed October 3, 2018.
  9. ^ "Thomas More College in NKY granted university status". Cincinnati: WCPO-TV. September 28, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Program for Thomas More College Presidential Inauguration, April Twenty-Ninth, Two Thousand and Five
  11. ^ Green, Judy; LaDuke, Jeanne (2008). Pioneering Women in American Mathematics — The Pre-1940 PhD's. History of Mathematics. Vol. 34 (1st ed.). American Mathematical Society, The London Mathematical Society. ISBN 978-0-8218-4376-5. Biography on p.599-600 of the Supplementary Material at AMS
  12. ^ Thomas More College Announces New President
  13. ^ "Thomas More University Announces Its Next President". May 2019.
  14. ^ Accreditation
  15. ^ Connor Convocation Center Center
  16. ^ "Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel". Archived from the original on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  17. ^ a b c Residence Halls
  18. ^ "BB&T Observatory". Archived from the original on 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  19. ^ "Biology Field Station". Archived from the original on 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  20. ^ "Thomas More College - Thomas More College Success Center". Archived from the original on 2014-12-28. Retrieved 2014-12-28.
  21. ^ Moore, Josh (July 24, 2018). "Kentucky college making jump to NAIA from NCAA". Lexington Herald-Leader. Lexington, KY. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  22. ^ Rick Hughes Archived 2007-01-22 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Larry Staverman
  24. ^ Dan Tieman
  25. ^ "William Robinson Named President of the American Bar Association | IADC".