Aquinas College has an interesting history with regard to student accommodation. From its inception as a male catholic institution by Father Leo McArdle to today as a high quality co-ed University Residential College.
Catholic male student accommodation
Building of Aquinas College began in 1952, and the first students took up residence in 1954. Aquinas was originally a place dedicated to the accommodation of male catholic students (although non-catholic students were also permitted to live at the College.)
Elim Church ownership
It remained as such until the Elim Church purchased the building in the early 1980s. Under Elim, the buildings were used as student accommodation, plus the facility was also available for backpackers. Its primary function, however, was to serve local Elim parishioners.
Purchase by University of Otago
In 1988, the building was purchased by the University of Otago for student accommodation.
What was once the Priory was made into student accommodation and the chapel became the gym. As it took on the role of housing students, the College left behind its religious history.
The Warden, Mrs Reywa Clough was appointed as the College Head, and a temporary name (Dalmore House) was given to the College in recognition of the Dunedin district the College was housed in.
Development in the early ‘90s
In 1990 a substantial amount of money was spent on redeveloping the college. The result was a new dining room and an additional 30 rooms for students.
In 1994 Mr Ashley Day was appointed as the Head of College. Further refurbishment included carpeting the whole College, and a new look dining room and foyer area.
By the end of 1996 Mr Day initiated more spending and the College was able to provide new student accommodation.
Renaming of the College
Mr Day also applied to the University Senate and the Dominican Fathers in Australia to reinstate the name of the College. Though there is no affiliation with any denomination the Dominican Fathers were delighted, and at the end of 1996 the College was once again known as Aquinas.
It was at this time a new Crest was developed to incorporate the sentiment that is Aquinas.