St. Thomas Aquinas College, named after a patron saint, St. Thomas of Aquinas (1225 to 1274) was established in January 1951. It started precisely on the 27th of January, 1951 with a class of 34 boys. The College was founded by the Catholic Diocese of Ondo under the leadership of His Lordship, The Most Rev. Thomas Hughes who was able to convince the then Deji of Akure, His Royal Highness, Oba Afunbiowo Adesida to grant him a piece of land for the project.
Kabiyesi granted the Bishop the dreaded Oliki Forest. The Bishop with the assistance of the Catholic Church and the students of St. Augustine Teacher Training College, Akure cleared the forest and commenced the erection of buildings. The building projects were carried out under the leadership of Reverend Brother Thomas Fitzgerald, an expert builder. The college was established for boys only but in 1967, Higher Scholl Certificate was introduced and girls were admitted for the Programme. The college became co-educational but only throughout the time the Programme lasted.
There are many hardworking men of honor, integrity and honesty who had occupied the exalted position of principalship of our college. Starting from the founding Principal. Rev. Fr. J John Keaveney to the present day (November, 2020), the college has had about 16 principals.
Moreover, as it should be expected, since the college was founded by the catholic mission, the principals were mainly of the Catholic extraction and all of them till the late 1970s were Rev Fathers of the Society of Missionaries to Africa (SMA). Mention should be made of Four Reverend Fathers who contributed to the early development and greatness of the college. Rev. Fr. McGovern who was a great sportsman and scientist. He contributed in no small measure to the development of equipment of the laboratories; Rev. Fr. Michael O’Shea, Rev. Fr. Patrick Evans and Rev Fr. Patrick Whelan.
The four Reverend Father brought fame, honour and integrity to Aquinas College in academics, sports and games. All our students excelled 100% in external exams within and outside Nigeria and it was during the time of Rev. Fr. Evans that the college won the Grier Cup as well as the Omitola Cup meant for all secondary schools in the old western states of Nigeria in consecutive years back to back including many great laurels in sports and games. These successes were celebrated by the students, first with the killing of Cows and later goats. This metamorphosed into the now-famous annual MUTURU FEAST.
It is worth putting on record the contribution of another Reverend Father from the Society of African Mission who was a born teacher and sportsman in the person of Rev Fr Brendan Dunning’s (1943 to 2020). His immense contribution to academics and sports brought glories to Aquinas College in the 80s especially in Basket Ball, Track and Fields and football.
The first African to teach in the college was Late Mr. M. Ogunsua and the first African to be appointed as a substantive Vice Principal was Chief Ade Fatoyinbo (Who was an old student and later acted as Principal).
The first indigenous Principal was Chief Ade Iluyemi. (1976-1977). Followed by Mr. Enoch Dare. (1977 to 1986) The longest-serving Principal of the college was Chief E.R.A. Babalola of blessed memory having spent 13 years as the principal.
Mr. J.A. Ige was recently promoted to the position of Acting Principal in May 2020, having served as Vice-Principal (Admin) from Nov. 2nd, 2018 to May, 20th 2020 when he was appointed as principal in acting capacity.
Mr. Afolabi Oni. An Old Aquinarian and a new substantive Principal was appointed in November 2020. He occupy the position till date
Aquinas College is the home of cricket, handball and Basketball not only for the student sports but for the entire Ondo State. The School Cricket Team does not only represent the school but has represented Ondo State as a whole in many national sports competitions and has won many laurels. This prompted the state government to turn the school cricket pitch to the state official cricket pitch.
Aquinas College was the only secondary school in Nigeria that sent an athlete to the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. Aquinarian Ajayi Akinkuotu represented Nigeria as a member of the 4×400 meter relay team at that memorable Olympiad.
Aquinas College has evidently produced numerous renowned people globally who have achieved greatly in various human endeavors. Aquinas College Akure is very proud to be the only secondary school in the country to have produced three National Merit Award Winners:
- Professor Oluwafeyisola Sylvester Adegoke. A world-acclaimed geologist.
- Professor Francis Abiodun Oluwole. A renowned nuclear Physicist
- Professor Oyewusi Gureje. An eminent Psychiatrist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
These are just a few Aquinarians that have achieved exemplarily in public and private lives. Aquinas College has produced many former ministers, governors, commissioners and business champions and renowned clergies, senior military officers and policemen.
A very strong and formidable old student association has emerged in recent years and have been able to organise itself globally under the former global presidents: Late high Chief Raymond Olusoga and Aquinarian Ladi Fadayomi who toured Europe and America to further help in making sure Aquinas College Old Student Association global presence was established. This good work was passed over to the current president of the association. Justice Adesuyi Olateru Olagbegi who has also worked tirelessly to further expand the coast of ACAOSA and is working with various committees to ensure the success of 70th anniversary of this great College. He has also visited ACAOSA EUROPE and many branches in Nigeria.
(Culled from the 40th year of graduation commemorative brochure of 1973/1978 set and updated by Taiwo Olateju 81/86 set).