An Anselmian Act of Kindness, In A Time of Need

Every day, I have conversations with members of our community; I receive many emails, letters and even texts from students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Often I hear stories of accomplishments, conquering challenges, and academic, athletic and personal successes.

But occasionally, stories come at times of need, through sadness, and loss.

Late in the evening of July 26, I received a note from Staci Herman ’14, a recently graduated chemistry major who is soon to begin a Ph.D. program in chemistry at the University of Cincinnati.

She was emailing to ask that the College recognize members of the Chemistry Department, from which she had kept many of the texts and notes she used at Saint Anselm to further her studies this fall. But the reason she reached out to me was not simply because we have outstanding faculty who prepare our students to excel in graduate degree programs.

Staci wrote:

“On July 21st something unfathomable occurred as our house caught fire. At first we thought that the fire would be minor, but as time passed we noticed smoke coming from the attic right above my room. That caused my heart to sink because where the fire was meant my diploma would be lost. Worse yet…all my chemistry books and notes would be lost too.”

Dr. Derk Wierda received an email from Staci soon after the fire, asking how she could obtain a new diploma. His response: “I’ll pay for it.”

Dr. Nicole Eyet assured Staci that she’d send replacement notes – and that the department would cover the cost of replacing lost textbooks.

And less than a week after the fire, Staci described receiving a box from the Chemistry Department and Dr. Brian Penney that contained notes, textbooks, and more than $400 in gift cards.

Staci ended her note to me:

“I just wanted you to know how amazing these people are and to give them the recognition they deserve. The actions carried out by this department are why other people should become Anselmians, and why I am proud to have graduated from Saint Anselm College and to have been taught by these fantastic professors.”

As tragic as Staci’s experience was, what struck me most strongly about her story is this: Stories like this are not unique on the Hilltop. Whether we’re celebrating or rallying around those in need, the Saint Anselm community invariably acts with kindness, compassion and assistance above and beyond expectation or demand.

These generous responses by Dr. Wierda, Dr. Eyet, Dr. Penney and entire Chemistry department absolutely reflect this uncommon character.  I am proud to call myself an Anselmian beside them, and proud to know that as a community, when we are faced with challenges that push our thinking and develop our characters, we will rise to every occasion.

Anselmian Now. Anselmian Then. Anselmian Always.

Celebrating 125 Years of Anselmian History

Dr. DiSalvo offers a toast

Last Friday, college faculty, staff, and alumni gathered to mark the beginning of a historic year in the life of the college – 125 years ago, on Aug. 1, 1889 Saint Anselm College was founded.

I offered the following toast on the Alumni Hall plaza:

To Bishop Bradley, Abbot Hilary and the founding members of the Saint Anselm community, for their foresight, patience and perseverance

To Abbot Mark and the monastic community, for their unconditional love and support as they guide us each day to preserve our mission

To the nine past presidents of the College, for their dedication and leadership for the last century and a quarter,

To our faculty, staff, alumni and friends, for their hard work and dedication to educate young men and women of faith

And to our students, who continue to live out our mission with grace and hope,

For it is through them that we find the inspiration to continue our journey throughout the next 125 years….

We are now and always, proud to be Anselmians.

A Message to the Class of 2014

Dr. DiSalvo in the Alumni Hall bell tower

I am pleased and proud to offer my very warmest welcome to the families and guests who join us today and my heartfelt congratulations to our graduates on this auspicious occasion. Today marks Saint Anselm College’s 121st Commencement Exercises. Some dedicated members of our community have taken part in more than forty of those ceremonies, but for me as Saint Anselm’s new president, it is a very special first.

Today represents a collective triumph, not just of the Class of 2014, but of their professors, and the administrators and staff who have guided and supported them on their journey. As our graduates take their leave from their Saint Anselm home that was founded and is lovingly sustained by the monks of Saint Anselm Abbey, our gratitude extends to many people. For the admission officer who first inspired a young person’s interest in Saint Anselm and the dining hall employee who served up encouraging words as well as meals along the way, to the teacher who graded the last exam and will serve as a mentor for decades to come, today is a shared celebration. Far from least of those sharing in this gratitude are the parents and families of our graduates, whose caring presence has sustained them over the past four years in ways large and small, and who now proudly watch as they prepare to take their next steps forward, strengthened by that foundational love and support.

Today also represents hundreds of individual journeys of personal and academic growth, of goals set and achieved, majors selected and abandoned, plans altered, discoveries made, relationships formed and horizons opened. Each graduate who ascends the stage today brings a personal story of joy, heartache and perseverance, often against the most difficult of obstacles. With them, we remember in prayer today the parents, grandparents and other family members lost by these graduates who cannot be here to celebrate with us today.

Members of the Class of 2014: you are the first to whom I have the honor of handing a Saint Anselm diploma. On behalf of your professors, I send you forth to Harvard, Brown and the University of Texas; to Chicago, California, Germany, Spain and Rwanda; to hospitals, banks, schools, publishing houses, software companies and television networks; to the heady corridors of political power and the heartbreaking streets and villages of the most vulnerable.

We send you with God’s blessings upon you and your families and upon the remarkable life of creative and generous service that lies before you. For you have learned in your four years what generations before you have known and what I have discovered in just one short year: Anselmian today. Anselmian tomorrow. Anselmian always.