Thomas History

Keist Business College
Kiest Business College, 1894 - 1896

Morgan Business College

Morgan Business College, 1896 - 1911

Here is a list of milestones in the history of Thomas College, beginning with its origin as Kiest Business College on Main Street, Waterville, in 1894.

1894 - Kiest Business College was founded three floors above F.W. Woolworth Co. in the Edith Building as a non-sectarian co-educational college dedicated to career training.

1896 - Kiest Business College, with a growing reputation for coeducational career training, was purchased by William Morgan.  It was renamed Morgan Business College.

1911 - Morgan Business College was purchased by Peterborough, N.H., railroad administrator John L. Thomas Sr., who himself was a business college graduate.  The College was renamed Morgan-Thomas Business College.  For more than 45 years the college trained accountants and secretaries, and gained an excellent reputation and saw increased enrollment.  Thomas, “principal” of the school, developed a reputation as a gifted teacher.

1950 - Morgan-Thomas Business College was renamed Thomas Junior College.

1956 - The College moved to the former home of John Ware on Silver Street, which was known as one of  Waterville's largest and finest estates.  The College used two buildings there, one for administrative offices, library and classrooms, and the other was redesigned for a  women's dormitory, dining room, store and student lounge.  John L. Thomas Jr. was named President.

Thomas College Silver Street

Thomas College - Silver Street Campus, 1956 - 1971

1958 - The Maine State Legislature granted Thomas College the right to confer Associate in Arts and Associate in Secretarial Science degrees

1959 - Thomas College was re-chartered as a non-profit institution.

1960 (approx.) - Jewell Hall, a men's dormitory named for Ralph A. Jewell, the first chairman of the Board of Trustees, was dedicated.

1962 - A new classroom building was opened and became the hub of all academic activity.  Thomas Junior College was renamed Thomas College.

1963 - The Maine State Legislature granted Thomas College the right to confer four-year Bachelor of Science in Business Education and Bachelor of Science in Administration degrees.

1964 - Mariner Library was opened.  it was named for Ernest C. Mariner, who served as Chairman of the Thomas college Board of Trustees for 15 years.  The former library was converted into more classroom space.

1965 - A theater for lectures, concerts and dramatic presentations was added to the main classroom building.  In September, a new dining center and women's dormitory was finished.  The building was named for Ann S. Parks, the first woman trustee.

1969 - The Maine State Legislature granted Thomas College the right to confer Associate in Science degrees.

1969 - Telephone workers who were on strike and had children enrolled at Thomas helped build a baseball field on the new campus. The workers on the ball field were paid $3.25 per hour. John L. Thomas and Ford Grant thought the bill for the field was excessive at $4,200. That same ball field today would cost more than most people's annual salary.

1970 - A dormitory with accommodations for both men and women in separate wings was opened at the new campus on West River Road.  A student union and dining center was opened that December.

1971 - The entire College was now operating at the West River Road campus.

1972 - A student village with townhouse-like accommodations for upper classmen, was opened at the new Thomas College campus on West River Road.

1974 - The Maine State Legislature granted Thomas College the authority to award Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies.

1976 - The Maine State Legislature gave Thomas college the right to confer a Master of Science degree in Business.

1976 - Thomas College purchased its first computer, a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-11.

1980 - John Thomas Jr. died.  Ford A. Grant, a former teacher and the College's Vice President for Financial Affairs, became temporary President.  Paul G. Jenson, the former Dean of Faculty, was named full-time President at Thomas College.

1982 - The Computer Information Systems major begins.

1983 - The first personal computers - 2 Macintosh and a Compaq portable PC - were purchased by Thomas College.

1983 - Instituted Internship Program

1984 - The Maine Sate Legislature granted Thomas College the authority to award Master of Business Administration degrees.

1985 - The Thomas College Portland Center established.

1986 - Cyril M. Joly, Jr. was named to replace the retiring Paul Jenson as President.

1988 - The first computer system dedicated to administrative use was purchased; the first local area network was created.

1989 - David F. Emery was named to replace Cyril M. Joly, Jr. as interim President, pending selection of Joly's permanent successor.  Emery served for six months.  George R. Spann was named Thomas College President.

1994 - All dormitory rooms were equipped with voice, data, and video lines connected to the Internet.  The addition of this technology was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.  The first building-to-building network connection was completed, and Thomas college signed on to Internet.

1995 - Thomas College announced a partnership first with MINT.  In later years this partnership would turn to one with Adelphia Incorporated, which acquired MINT.  The original partnership with MINT made Thomas College and MINT the local internet providers for the Central Maine region.

1998 - A new phone system was purchased to handle the additional load of student dormitory rooms and for Y2K compliance.  Two new computer-related majors were created, Computer Management and Software Development.

1999 - Thomas College announced the most extensive Guaranteed Job Program in the United States, entitled the Thomas College Guaranteed Job Program.  Thomas College became one of the first colleges in the nation to establish a web-based computer administrative system.

2000  -  Streaming audio/video capabilities were added.  Thomas Celebrated the opening of the Laurette Ayotte Auditorium.  This high tech 300-seat structure was completed in the spring of 2000. It features a beautiful lobby, and two technology-driven classrooms in addition to the auditorium. With its large projection screen, fantastic sound system, both wired and wireless internet connections, the Laurette Ayotte Auditorium is one of the most multi purposed in the Northeast. The Thomas community uses this spacious state-of-the-art facility for concerts, student events, meetings, special events, and even a weekly Friday night movie.   Thomas College added new majors in Elementary Education, Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Computer Science.  The College also announced partnerships with the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and Putnam Investments.  Putnam Investments opened a center on the Thomas College campus.

2001 - Thomas College announced a partnership with Bridge Educational Computer Career5 Center of Westbrook, Maine.  The Thomas College baseball team won the NAIA New England Championship.  A partnership with the Portland Sea Dogs was announced.

Aerial Shot of Campus 2001

Thomas College - West River Road Campus, 1972 - 2001

2002 - A new major in Communications was announced.  Thomas College completed a campus wireless computer infrastructure, which allowed wireless computer access for students in most locations on campus.  A partnership with the Mid Maine Chamber of Commerce was announced.

Bartlett Hall
Thomas College - Bartlett Hall Residences, 2003

2003 - In the summer of 2003, the College completed major renovations to the Dining Center and opened Bartlett Hall, a new 100 bed residence hall, to students. Each room is equipped to provide students with wireless internet, internet ports, voice mail, and cable television. Clusters of 3 and 4 suites share a lounge with TV room, kitchenette, and computer terminals.

2004 - Thomas has been selected for a second time in five years by the Microsoft Corporation as a case study for using the company's products. Microsoft recently examined the college's use of its ISA Server 2004 product for security, performance and reporting.

2005 - Thomas received a $1.25 million challenge from the Harold Alfond Foundation for construction of a $4.6 million athletic center. The gift is the largest ever received by the college for construction of a facility. Thomas announced the launch an unprecedented $9.6 million capital campaign, The Thomas Challenge: Guaranteeing the Future, on October 19. The campaign, the largest in the College's history, is a push to fund the new Harold Alfond Athletic Center, scholarship endowment and annual operating funds. The College received several generous challenges for the campaign to date including the Harold Alfond Foundation challenge, an H. Allen Ryan Challenge for $500,000 and a Unity Foundation challenge for $150,000. In addition, 100 percent of Thomas's Board of Trustees donated, and many regional businesses contributed, including TD Banknorth, N.A., which made a $250,000 pledge.

Alfond Athletic Center
Thomas College - The Harold Alfond Athletic Center, 2006

2006 - In September 2006, The Harold Alfond Athletic Center opened for the first time, and consists of a 38,000 square foot facility, a multi-sport, three court surface (striped for basketball, tennis and volleyball), an indoor track, lacrosse ball-wall, plyometrics room, locker rooms, fitness center, multipurpose room, and lounge area. A variety of intramural, recreation and fitness programs, student pick-up games, and home varsity tennis matches are just some of the uses for this new facility. A new Master of Science in Education program was launched after receiving overwhelming approval by the faculty senate. Classes began on January 2, 2006, and the first cohort officially entered in the fall. Thomas welcomed its largest incoming class ever in fall 2006 with 234 new undergraduate, full-time students. Overall enrollment is up 39 percent since 2002. The record enrollment put the College on track for its ambitious goal of nearly doubling its undergraduate enrollment over 10 years.
The Recreation Room - completed in 2006, is located across from the Stickney Room - it has a pool table, ping-pong table, foosball table, couches, tables and chairs, and a large 56" screen TV.  Equipment for use in the Recreation Room is available for sign-out at the front desk of the Athletic Center.  The space will also be used by the Department of Intramurals and Recreation, Student Life office and CAB for periodic programs

2007 - To support future expansion, the College purchased 12 of the 13 lots of Eaglewood Estates and an additional 26 acres connected to the south end of campus along the Kennebec River and West River Road. The College also purchased 10 additional acres of land across the road on the north corner of Webb and West River Roads. This additional 50 acres of land will provide the College space for campus growth as the enrollment increases over the next several years.

Thomas College - Townhouse Residences, 2008

2008 - Thomas College opened a new residence hall: Townhouses. The Thomas Townhouse units are to accommodate 88 Thomas College students in two-floor, suite style living areas. Students are now enjoying a private entrance, common area, and double and single living quarters. Townhouse residents also have access to exterior laundry facilities, mailboxes, and a fully equipped kitchen.

Thomas College - Welcome Center 2010

Thomas College - Dining Center 2011

Thomas College - Athletic Hall of Fame 2011

Thomas College - George and Marty Spann Student Commons 2012

Thomas College - Turf Field Complex 2012

Thomas College - Hall of Flags 2012

Thomas College's mission is to prepare students for success in their personal and professional lives, and for leadership and service in their communities

Event Calendar 

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94% of Thomas graduates have a 
job within 90 days of Graduation!
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Thomas College. Beyond Education.