The imposing, ivy-draped façade of Alumni Hall is one of Saint Anselm College’s most distinctive and memorable features. However, for many years, visitors were only able to catch a glimpse of it as they drove into campus. The main entrance swept around the corner, past the Abbey Church, rather than opening directly onto the iconic building.
This fall, all that has changed, courtesy of a generous gift from Paul and Maureen McNeil.
Dr. McNeil is a member of the Class of 1946, who first got to know Saint Anselm College as a high school student when his older brother, John, was a scholarship athlete on the football team. Paul wanted to attend Saint Anselm as well, but doubted he could afford the full tuition. Then-college treasurer Father John Lynch, O.S.B. asked Paul “How much could you afford?” Paul told Fr. John what he had saved from his summer job—and Fr. John told him he could attend for that amount.
Paul started at Saint Anselm in October 1942, and was an active member of the Hilltop community, participating in the King Edward Society, playing golf, and serving as Class President. He left after two years, having been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania dental school. As a result, he did not receive his Saint Anselm diploma at that time; but he remained a devoted Anselmian, participating in many alumni events and maintaining close relationships with fellow alumni and the college. And in September 2003, then-president Fr. Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B. ’69, finally presented him with his official diploma.
He has never forgotten how the monks of Saint Anselm helped him. “Because of everything Saint Anselm did for us, we wanted to give something back,” he says.
For more than ten years, Paul and his wife, Maureen, have funded the Dr. and Mrs. Paul McNeil Annual Scholarship, providing the means for new generations of deserving students to receive a Saint Anselm education. Now, they have given back to the entire community, by making a $650,000 unrestricted gift to the college. In recognition of their generosity, the college has decided to name the new entrance after Dr. McNeil. The new entry way is designed to provide a dramatic first impression of campus and a concrete symbol of the Anselmian commitment to providing a superior educational experience.
The new entrance, which is oriented to traffic coming from either direction on Saint Anselm Drive, is located east of the “old” main entrance, which will eventually be converted into a two-way drive for Saint Anselm Abbey traffic. It will open in November 2016, and is known as the “Dr. Paul J. McNeil ’46 College Entrance.”
By Michelle Adams O'Regan