During his tenure in the office, he inaugurated the first ever Diploma program in Psychology and Counselling in collaboration with the National University, Galway, Ireland. He also took the initiative to begin Diploma courses in Hotel Management and Hospitality. Further, several other diploma programmers in Finance and Management, Teacher Training, Plantation and Agriculture were also launched under his guidance. Shifting of the Engineering Faculty to the present premises at Kotahena and the opening of the Wadduwa branch of Aquinas College of Higher Studies are some noteworthy events that took place during the period of Very Rev. Fr. Placidus De Silva. He also took the initiative to build the Diamond Jubilee Wing in 2014.
Sixth Rector (1989 - 2006)
Very Rev. Fr. W.D.G. Chrispin Leo
Fr. Chrispin expanded the Undergraduate section for external students of Kelaniya, Jayewardenepura and Peradeniya Universities and introduced a morning Diploma Course in English to maximize the use of premises during morning hours. Many new and relevant professional courses were introduced, enabling youth to find employment in the Banking and Management Sectors and also to become Pharmacists and Computer Technicians, respectively.
Building Projects such as the Millennium and Jubilee buildings were started in the year 1999 and completed its work for the Golden Jubilee of Aquinas College in 2004 with the generous assistance of the Italian Bishops Confederation. This was with a view of getting affiliations to foreign universities and catering to the needs of many more students.
With the guidance of the former Archbishops, Most Rev. Dr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando and Most Rev. Dr. Oswald Gomis and the cooperation from the University Grants Commission of the Ministry of Education, Rev. Fr. Chrispin worked painstakingly to achieve the degree awarding status to the Aquinas College of Higher Studies.
Fifth Rector (1979 - 1989)
Very Rev. Msgr W.L.A. Don Peter
In his second tenure of office, he set up the Don Peter Auditorium, added a single storey building for class rooms and extended the Priest’s quarters most spacious. Fr. Don Peter was also instrumental in establishing a Computer Centre seeing the need of the day.
He inaugurated a course in Journalism and launched the Don Peter fund for employees and scholarships for students.
Fourth Rector (1974 - 1979)
Very Rev. Fr. Neville Emmanuel
Fr. Neville allowed several Ecclesiastical Institutions like the Catechetical Institute and the Socio Economic Development Centre (SEDEC) to have their offices at Aquinas College Premises, as there was vacant space available in the College.
However, these institutions were transferred to other places by former Rev. Fr. Don Peter during his second tenure. Part of the property belonging to the Aquinas had to be disposed of by
Fr. Neville to meet the day – to – day Expenses, due to the financial crisis prevalent at that time.
Third Rector (1971 - 1974)
Very Rev. Msgr W.L.A. Don Peter
In 1973, Fr. Don Peter inaugurated the Diploma Course in English, which has over the years, become very popular with the youth. He also began the Lab Technology Certificate Course affiliated to the Institute of Chemistry. Twenty acres of the Aquinas Farm was disposed of to the Charismatic Movement of the Archdiocese, to raise funds for the betterment of the college.
Second Rector (1964 - 1971)
Very Rev. Fr. Tissa Balasuriya OMI
B.A. Economics (Colombo)
Fr. Tissa Balasuriya bridged the old Library Building (former St. Bernard’s Archdiocesan Major Seminary) and the Science Block built by the late Very Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai OMI by building a three storied tower.
In 1965, he liaised with the Major Religious Superior’s Confederation (Sri Lanka) and founded the Sister Formation Programme. Today, the congregations appreciate the programme very much, as it brings about an “aggiornamento” to the religious life of young sisters.
In 1966, Rev. Fr. Balasuriya added yet another feather to Aquinas by acquiring over 72 acres of fertile land situated at Walpola, Ragama which was subsequently named the Aquinas Farm Land, and the establishment of the School of Agriculture enabling students to carry out their Agriculture practical’s with ease. For the first time, he was also instrumental in publishing a monthly magazine called the ‘Quest’.
First and Founder Rector (1954 - 1964)
The late Very Rev. Fr. Peter A. Pillai OMI
B.Sc (Hons) Mathematics (Colombo), B.A. (Cantab), M.A. (Cantab), M.Sc. (London), M.A. (Cambridge), Ph.D. (Rome), D.D. (Rome)
The late Fr. Peter A. Pillai, inaugurated Aquinas College of Higher Studies at St. Joseph’s College premises in 1954. He was keen to help the youth who were deprived of opportunities for higher education, due to lack of places in the Universities at that time. London External Examination Courses and Professional programmes were conducted mostly in the evenings.
His dream was to make Aquinas College of Higher studies an ideal Private Campus. In 1955, Aquinas College of Higher Studies was moved to its present premises, and he put up the present Science Block which housed the best equipped Laboratory in the Island, at that time. He also bought a land at Wanathamulla, with the hope of beginning a Medical College. Unfortunately, with his untimely demise in 1964, this dream too faded away.