Upon leaving Fairfield, Fr. Savage spent a year in Australia on "tertianship" (the first year of the Jesuit formation process). Upon his return, exuberant, brilliant and dedicated to improving urban life, Rev. Thom Savage moved to Kansas City from Connecticut in 1988 to become president of Rockhurst College, now known as Rockhurst University. In addition to his work on the University self study, Fr. Savage taught courses in architecture and business administration.
Though he was only 41, and U.S.'s youngest Jesuit college president, the challenge of running a university didn't intimidate him. Savage was well-known throughout Kansas City for his activism and his pithy contributions to the radio talk show "Religion on the Line". During his six years as president, Rockhurst enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth, particularly in the area of continuing education and corporate training.
He served on the boards of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Board of Trade and helped write FOCUS, Kansas City's exhaustive master plan.
Savage left Rockhurst in 1996, moving to San Francisco to work for a human resources consulting firm. Though already suffering AIDS, he kept it from nearly everyone.
When Thom Savage arrived home for Christmas in 1998, his frail appearance shocked family members. The question of AIDS, however, never came up.
Thom Savage finally decided that he would return to Boston and take on lighter duties for the Jesuits. When Thom Savage arrived in Boston, he was taken to the Jesuit-run Campion Health Center in Weston. As with his illness, Thom Savage also had hidden his homosexuality. He died a year later, of AIDS related complications.