Opening Day 2014: Celebrate The Past, Embrace The Future

Saint Anselm College: 125 yearsThe journey began for Saint Benedict when he walked up the hill in Subiaco, Italy seeking a deeper understanding of our loving God. It was in his spirit that the Benedictine monks walked to the top of this magnificent hilltop to found Saint Anselm College 125 years ago. Today we celebrate the past while embracing the future.

When our community last gathered together in May little did we know that two of our students would be called to their eternal rest so soon. Sarah Liamos died 10 days after receiving her diploma and Kayla Bertolami past away this summer, just four months shy of completing her degree. Let us not forget the joy and hope they brought to our campus community. We must find comfort in knowing that their spirits will guide us as we continue the journey of our founders.

Throughout this anniversary year and beyond we must continue to keep the mission of Saint Anselm College alive. Here are a few ways to accomplish this:

Let us begin all meetings and gatherings with a mission moment – a prayer, quiet reflection, or a reading that will allow us as, Saint Benedict says, to listen with the ear of our heart.

Let us respect one another, work collaboratively and always seek to find common ground.

Let us accept the charge of the 125th Anniversary Committee that our community conduct 125,000 acts of kindness. Good deeds that will pay it forward. Service for others, large or small, that will make this world a better place.

And let us give thanks to the monastic community, whose presence is felt here on the hilltop and beyond. They inspire us each and every day.

Today marks the beginning of our academic year and the beginning of our anniversary year. We walk together with great hope and faith in the future.

As President of Saint Anselm College, it is my pleasure to present this year’s recipient of the Father Bernard Holmes Senior Student Award. The award was made possible through the outstanding generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Davison, longtime friends of the College, who established a scholarship endowment in Father Bernard’s name.

According to the wishes of the donors, the purpose of the award is to encourage students to emulate and to carry into their life’s work those personal qualities of heart and mind that were so evident and so admirable in Father Bernard himself and which enabled him for more than fifty years to be a source of inspiration and wise counsel to generations of the Saint Anselm College community.

Students were nominated by full-time faculty, administrators and members of the monastic community. They received letters of support from their peers, wrote a personal essay and participated in an interview. From the many nominations that were reviewed, the selection committee has recommended one senior student as this year’s award recipient.

He will receive a full tuition scholarship for his senior year. Abbot Mark, the Chancellor of the College, joins me in congratulating an English major, and secondary education minor from Salisbury, Massachusetts, Mr. Cameron Wood.

Welcome, Class of 2018!

Members of the Class of 2018, Parents, Relatives & Friends,

Welcome to Saint Anselm College! Today you have experienced a taste of true Anselmian hospitality. There may still be some bags that have to be unpacked and a poster or two to hang on the walls. But savor this moment for you are now a proud member of the Class of 2018.

Dr. DiSalvo joins in the welcoming festivities for the Class of 2018

Your class holds a special distinction as you enter during the 125th anniversary year of Saint Anselm College. Abbot Hilary, the college's first president, welcomed students in front of this very building, Alumni Hall, a building constructed twice because it had been destroyed by fire. During the construction of this very plaza last year, bricks were found from the original structure. It was through the perseverance of the first monastic community that this building was reconstructed using those very same bricks. The college then opened and a legacy began.

Your place in our history should not be taken lightly. When we gather together on Sunday evening to raise your class banner you will officially be inducted into the Class of 2018. At that time you will receive a class pin as a symbol of your Anselmian heritage. At that moment, the 529 bright women and men before me today will become one family, one class, with one mission: to earn a degree at Saint Anselm College by fulfilling all the necessary requirements, and graduate…ON TIME!

This is not an easy task, in fact it is meant to be a challenge. It requires hard work, time management, work-life balance and, like the first monks to arrive here, perseverance. We will work with you to keep you on track, but ultimately it is YOUR responsibility. And parents, we need your help to insure a successful four year journey. Since we are not allowed to share personal information unless students sign a release, you too must ask the necessary questions. Do you have enough credits to graduate on time? Have you taken the required courses? Will we see you walking down this center aisle in four years? Students, we all want you to succeed. If you hit a stumbling block, and most of you will, we are here to help you. DO NOT WAIT until it is too late.

There are three things I would ask you to keep in mind as you begin your academic studies at Saint Anselm College.

The first is Friends. It is critically important that you make at least three close friends this semester. These are friends you can lean on when the going gets tough and celebrate with during the best of times. Friends you can spend time with eating, meeting and greeting. Friends with whom you may play a sport, do community service projects, participate in theater or politics. Friends that will last a lifetime.

The second is Family. Please remember to call home. Or at least send a text message. This newfound freedom is a luxury. Do not forget that your family is always there for you. Time passes quickly, especially in college. Thank your family for all they have done to help you along the path that has led you here today. You must say three simple words to your parents and loved ones. Three words that we sometimes take for granted. Three words that express your deepest gratitude. I Love You.

Finally, there is Faith. Your faith will be strengthened at Saint Anselm College because our community is rooted in our Benedictine tradition. No matter what your religious denomination may be, find a way to strengthen your own spirituality. Make time to attend liturgies. Participate in retreats or community service. Take time for personal reflection.  Treasure the beauty of this campus. Your future will be shaped in large part by the development of your faith.

I look forward to getting to know each of you during the course of the next four years. The Class of 2018 is beginning a journey at Saint Anselm College during a very significant year in our history. And in just four short years we will gather again at this very place to celebrate your commencement. Today I congratulate you on your arrival. You now have 48 months to figure out what is next!

Class of 2018: Welcome and Congratulations. Be active participants in your collegiate experience. And remember those three simple things to treasure: Friends, Family and Faith. Parents and family members, we will see you during family weekend in October. I wish you Godspeed as you return to a quieter home.

May God Bless the Class of 2018. And may His blessings be upon us all as we embark on these next four years together.

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.