Last year, as this great institution celebrated its 125th anniversary, we were reminded of the words spoken by Bishop Denis Bradley to Abbot Hilary Pfraengle, O.S.B., then Abbot of St. Mary’s Abbey in Newark, New Jersey as they discussed building this very college: “We ought not wait until we can begin on a grand scale. All colleges grow from small beginnings.”
And so began a humble effort, that with God’s good grace has grown from small beginnings, to the college that we are entrusted with today. How very fitting it is, that following a year of reflection, I am able to share with you today so much good news – record-breaking news in many instances, as we now look forward with great faith in the future to our next 125 years of Catholic, Benedictine education.
First, an update on the financial health of the college: I am pleased to report that fiscal year 2015 was the most successful fundraising year in the history of the college! Just over $19 million was committed to the college in the past year, with several gifts of $1 million or above.
In one day alone, on our first Anselmian Day of Giving, an unprecedented $476, 216 was collected, including a $125,000 gift from Bob Weiler ’73 who gave $1,000 for each year of the college’s history. However, even more remarkable than the amount raised is the fact that the Day of Giving brought together the largest number of Anselmian supporters on one day in the college’s history- over 1,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends participated.
Last year also marked the second year of the on-going silent phase of a capital campaign. I look forward to sharing many exciting announcements of leadership gifts with the college community in the months ahead.
And in other exciting news for our community: Last week, U.S. News and World Report moved Saint Anselm up eight spots on the National Liberal Arts Colleges list this year, to 112, ahead of many of our peer institutions. The Princeton Review places the college 13th in the nation for student engagement in community service, and for the second year in a row, says Saint Anselm dining is tenth best in the nation. These rankings reflect the achievements of our entire community- students, faculty, staff and alumni. I am very proud of the national recognition that we have earned.
As for our new students, the Class of 2019 arrived on campus this fall with laurels of its own. Our 530 first-year students represent the most academically talented enrolled class in college history. Enrollments surpassed budgeted goals by 15 students, and we continued to trend towards a more geographically diverse student-body, with students from 21 states.
We know that our new students will excel just as do our older ones, both in and out of the classroom. 777 students were named to the Dean’s List for the spring semester last year, and three seniors were lauded with full-tuition scholarships in recognition of their efforts at the college. Please join me in congratulating Melucci scholars Rachel Follett, a nursing major, and Brian Pickowicz, a business major. They join the Father Bernard Holmes scholar Kristine Adams, an international relations and Spanish double major in receiving these coveted honors. Congratulations to all!
I am pleased to announce that through a very generous $3.2 million gift from Joseph Jean (Class of 1953) we continue to develop an endowed chair in history and government. It is only the second endowed chair at Saint Anselm College. I would also like to thank Professor Peter Josephson for his service as past Bready Chair and announce that Professor Max Latona will serve as the new chair in the current academic year. Congratulations Max!
I am also happy to share with you that Professor Ahida Pilarski has been appointed Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusiveness for the academic year 2015-2016. During this time, she will lead the formulation and search for a permanent position in charge of these efforts at the College. Professor Pilarski will also chair the Presidential Steering Committee for Diversity and Inclusiveness, which is tasked with fostering and directing progress toward institution-wide inclusiveness, including recruiting, goal-setting, assessment, institution-wide education and training.
This is a very important year in the political cycle, and as you all know, Saint Anselm College is the center of the political universe. All but one of the 20+ presidential candidates in both parties have visited our campus already. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements about primary debates- Saint Anselm historically hosts at least one, and we hope to have exciting news for you soon.
Away from the Hilltop, new Anselmian adventures and achievements abound. Marie and Ron Cole, both graduates of the Class of 1978, established the Cole Fellowship to provide funding each summer to one student doing a full-time internship. Senior Spanish major India Barrows was the first recipient. She spent eight weeks this summer in Spain, where she interned at a local communications firm.
Led by David George, Classics department chair, 15 students and eight alumni worked diligently throughout May and June to further the excavation progress of three archeological digs at our sites in Orvieto, Italy, a city that is about to become much more familiar with Saint Anselm College.
This past January, the college approved a pilot study abroad program: “A semester in Orvieto.” Soon, our students will be able to live, learn, and travel with fellow students and Saint Anselm faculty, enrolling in courses ranging from classics, history, politics, and theology to Italian culture, art and architecture.
Our faculty continue to expand the college’s global outreach, proposing unique and varied programs around the world. From Bosnia, where professor Erik Cleven spent part of his summer with students Kristine Adams and Scott MacNeil exploring interethnic dialogue in a small community, to the tropics of Belize where professors Eric Berry and Lori Laplante led students through their recurring course, Field Studies in Tropical Biology, the reach of a Saint Anselm College education continues to grow.
And closer to home, there is much to celebrate as well. Five monks of Saint Anselm Abbey celebrated their Jubilee of Monastic Profession this summer. Please join me in congratulating:
- Jerome Day, O.S.B. for 25 years of monastic profession
- William Sullivan, O.S.B. and Fr. Jude Gray, O.S.B. for 50 years of monastic profession
- Pius Horvath, O.S.B. and Fr. Lawrence Schlegel, O.S.B. for 65 years of monastic profession
How very fortunate for us, and for the thousands of people who have learned and taught and worked and had their lives transformed on this campus for the past century and a quarter, that these holy and determined men, and their confreres, have welcomed us to share in the life of Saint Anselm College.
With great faith in the future, we also remain grounded by our humble roots: “all colleges grow from small beginnings.” So too, do all good things, and great people.
Saint Anselm is blessed to have extremely dedicated faculty and staff. We stand strong as a community bound by our traditions yet poised to march forward with great enthusiasm. Our collective goal is to educate young men and women in the liberal arts by offering them the highest quality experience during their four years on our magnificent campus.
As we celebrate these accomplishments, and so many others by our students, faculty, and alumni around the world, we remain grounded by our Benedictine roots. We look forward to a bright future for Saint Anselm College, with new achievements and challenges on the horizon- and we always remember that all great things, indeed, grow from small beginnings.
Please be assured of my continued prayers and gratitude for you and those you love.
Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D.