President's Speech to Alumni, June 2011
A 15-Year Perspective
It is a pleasure to be with you here today as we officially conclude the events and activities of Reunion 2011. What a wonderful weekend it has been for the many alumni and their friends and families who returned to The College of Saint Rose to reconnect and reminisce about their time spent here. I am sure you had the chance to make several trips down “Memory Lane” over the weekend. Thank you for returning and I hope you will come back to visit again soon.
I would like to extend special recognition out to several individuals and groups with us this weekend. Congratulations to the Class of 1961 who are our newest Golden Roses. What a wonderful day Friday was with your mass and induction ceremony as well as the luncheon and dinner. It’s nice to see a group of you here today and I am glad you all survived the weekend!
At the Golden Roses luncheon we bestowed Bernadine Pisano Olbrych (All Bright), Class of 1946, with the Carondelet Lifetime Achievement Award. Bernadine is such a special person and appreciated alumna of Saint Rose and it was wonderful to celebrate this achievement with her and her family and friends.
On Saturday, at the Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association National Board of Directors, longtime trustee, benefactor and friend of the College, I. Norman Massry, was inducted as an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Alumni Association. Norman and the entire Massry family have been so generous to the College over the years, from the spectacular Massry Center for the Arts, to many, many other projects and initiatives. I was so pleased that the Alumni Association extended this honor and welcomed him into their ranks. Kathy and I received this special honor a few years ago, and I can personally attest to how extraordinary it is to receive this recognition.
And, last but not least, congratulations to Judith Enck and Kate Cavanaugh on their awards today. You have each represented the College so well both personally and professionally over the years, and are most deserving of the acknowledgment you received today. It was nice to learn of your shared experience at Saint Rose and how you have inspired each other throughout the years. I wish you both continued success.
It has been another successful year here at The College of Saint Rose; one that has had its challenges and successes for me personally as well. Back in September of 2010, I suffered what was termed a “mild stroke”. This mild stroke kept me laid up in Albany Medical Center and at home for several months. But the care and concern of my family, the hospital staff and the countless alumni and friends of Saint Rose kept my spirits buoyed and comforted and inspired me during my early recovery. I cannot express in words what the thousands of cards and well wishes meant to me. I am forever grateful.
During my time away from the daily operations of the College, I was able to concentrate on my therapies and rest because of the work of my cabinet and the faculty, staff and administration at Saint Rose. Because of the team in place, and their abilities to work together to continue the vision and mission of this College, we did not miss a beat, and many projects that were underway were able to be continued and realized, even during my absence.
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today, to reflect on the highpoints of your weekend and to lend my personal perspective on the health and well-being of your alma mater. I call this part of the speech “15 years, but who’s counting?” My motto is - even in this economy Saint Rose is on a roll, so let’s keep moving ahead.
Two years ago I had a wonderful opportunity to hike into the Grand Canyon. It was a phenomenal experience. Majestic, massive, overpowering – the hiking experience was a union with nature that is profound, at once exhilarating and revealing as a sobering reminder of the forces of nature.
There is a plaque at the rim of the canyon with a message from President Teddy Roosevelt on the occasion of the canyon receiving national park status in 1908:
“The ages have been at work on this Grand Canyon and man can only mar it. What you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you.”
In a similar fashion, our job as loyal stewards of The College of Saint Rose is to protect and preserve all that is very special about this place, so that future generations can experience what all of you experienced at Saint Rose – a first class education where friendships are born and grow stronger every year.
At the end of the day, life is all about cherishing that which feeds the mind, warms the heart and nourishes the soul – whether it be saving the Grand Canyon for future generations or supporting your alma mater for future Saint Rose graduates.
This August marks my 15th Anniversary as President of The College of Saint Rose. It’s hard to fathom that 15 years has gone by so swiftly. Every anniversary provides a moment of reflection on the progress we have made in transforming your college into a top tier institution for higher learning.
There are two ways I approach this task. First, to recite some of the benchmark achievements which I define as the macro-indicators, if you will. I’ll do that briefly.
The second – and more meaningful way - is to offer a glimpse at some of the “micro indicators” - the personal vignettes about Saint Rose people. I’ll spend a little bit more time on that part because that is the part I truly enjoy the most. With each passing year this is the part of my job that supports and sustains my commitment to scale even greater heights, to climb more grand canyons, to cite the metaphor of the day.
The macro indicators:
•U.S. News and World Report “Best Northern Universities”; 40th of 172 best regional universities, jumped ahead 14 spots last year.
•For the third year in a row, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Saint Rose as one of the 25 “Best Colleges and Universities to Work For” in a nationwide survey of over 3000 public and private colleges.
•Two-thirds of our degree programs continue to hold the highest level of specialized accreditation and many programs enjoy a national reputation for excellence.
•Applications have grown from 1,700 in 1996 to 6,000; freshman class size has increased from 333 to 600; total enrollment is over 5,000;
•90% of freshman applications in top 50% of class; average GPA is 90, average SAT score of 1100;
•Over the last ten years, we’ve seen the operating budget grow from $36 million to $105 million;
•Endowment and other plant funds have grown from $7.2 million to over $50 million;
•The number of full-time faculty has increased to 213 from 130;
•Nearly $90 million in new construction, property acquisitions and renovations;
•Fundraising total for Massry Center exceeded $8 million against an original $5 million goal;
•We created our first endowed chair in Ethics and Moral Values thanks to a $1.5 million donation from George and Jane Pfaff;
•The College has become a regional leader in sustainable development and “green” initiative. For example, the geothermal system to heat and cool Massry uses no fossil fuels. This Center is LEED certified as Gold. The building is at least 42% more energy efficient than comparable buildings;
•After 30 years of nomadic existence, in which our athletic teams rented fields throughout the Capital Region, we now have The Plumeri Sports Complex.
•As you may have noticed during the weekend or even on your walk down Madison Ave after mass this morning, there is something happening at the corner of Partridge and Madison.
•Coming soon to this construction site will be a brand new residence hall for our students. Set to open in Fall 2012, this space will contain a hall with 245 beds and a new parking lot with 145 spaces. Some may feel this is more exciting than the building itself!
•The Board of Trustees approved my recommendation to name the new residence hall “Centennial Hall at The College of Saint Rose”. The primary reason for suggesting “Centennial Hall” relates to the fact that in a relatively short period of time, we will be celebrating the College’s centennial in 2020. Choosing to name our new residence hall “Centennial Hall” will add great significance to the upcoming celebration and the legacy of our College as a comprehensive, residential institution of higher learning.
•But that is not all the good news to share. The College is also currently in a campaign in support of the School of Business. This $5 million campaign will redesign the building right across the street at 994 Madison Avenue into the new home for the School of Business and will also support programming endowment for our students which is vital to their academic and professional success.
•I am pleased to share with you today that Richard J. Huether, a trustee of the College for more than a decade, has made a transformational gift toward the College’s Campaign for The School of Business. This gift brings the total amount raised to $2.8 million toward the $5 million campaign goal. Dick Huether joins more than 20 other donors who have made early leadership gifts for this exciting project.
•At the most recent meeting of the Board of Trustees, a resolution was approved to name the School of Business and the new building, The Huether School of Business in recognition of Dick’s very significant gift. We thank him and all our donors to date for their generosity.
•Let me also take a moment to point out that our growth and sustained investments produce an annual economic impact of $107 million to the City of Albany and $209 million to Albany County. We are, indeed, an economic force in the region.
The “micro indicators” of success:
•When you’ve served as president for as long as I have, you seldom lose sight of the “big picture”, which often manifests itself on how well the College is doing on the “macro indicators” - the bricks and mortar, budgets, programs, fund raising campaigns and strategic plans.
•Yet, I always remember that Saint Rose is first and foremost about people and providing opportunities for our students to excel. I devote my reflective moments to thinking about how this wonderful institution changes lives and supports the personal challenges of the thousands of students we serve. Increasingly, I take great pleasure in learning about and showcasing the individual accomplishments of our students.
•Of course, I can’t possibly do justice to the almost 14,000 students I’ve seen come through Saint Rose over the last fifteen years, but let me share with you just a few examples of how Saint Rose is producing the next generation of leaders across the region, throughout our nation and across the world.
A few examples:
Caitlin Janiszewski—Spanish – ’10
Caitlin Janiszewski, a Spanish major, spent considerable time studying abroad during her undergraduate career. She decided to go to graduate school in international relations and several faculty members both in Spanish and History/Political Science wrote outstanding recommendations. She is enrolled at New York University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies program. Caitlin was awarded the outstanding senior in Spanish award. Upon receiving this award at Academic Convocation, Caitlin immediately donated it to the University of Chile, where she had done her study abroad work, and which is experiencing severe hardship due to the recent earthquake. Caitlin is a true example of the Saint Rose mission of academic excellence and commitment to those in need.
Natalie Mitchell-History/Political Science (pre-law) – ’10
Natalie started at Saint Rose at age 16 after graduating early from high school in Kennebunk, Maine. She quickly excelled at her academic work, but also found that she wanted an experience that challenged her assumptions and exposed her directly to some of the social justice issues in the third world. On her own initiative, she found an organization that places college students in South African rural villages immersed in the AIDS crisis. The College supported her passion and commitment and with that support Natalie was able to spend six weeks working with children who are alone or caring for dying parents. She also was accepted into the competitive NYS Senate internship program where she completed a full-time internship with the state legislature. Each of these experiences has helped Natalie formulate her goals and she decided to attend Syracuse University Law School where she is about to start her second year. This summer she is a clerk for an Administrative Law judge in Syracuse while preparing to serve on the College’s law review staff.
Christina Marino ’08
Christina is studying at Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The science program at Saint Rose really helped her to be ahead of my classmates in veterinary school. She credits her classes in Immunology, Anatomy and Physiology, Pathogenic Microbiology, and Cell Biology with providing a foundation for the concepts she is studying in graduate school. Christina states that many of her classmates lack this valuable background, and level of understanding. Her liberal education from Saint Rose also helped her to form well-rounded perspectives which have also benefitted her as she continues her education.
Jennifer Austin: English - G’11
Jennifer Austin has earned top honors among English graduate students completing their degrees in December 2010 or May 2011. Jennifer is already demonstrating how she will put this degree to good use. In addition to the staged reading of her play, Jennifer’s paper “The Outlaws: Trespass, Disfigurement, Domestication” was accepted for presentation at the University of Albany Graduate Student Conference on April 1. After graduation, Jen now plans to continue as a TV News Producer in broadcast television while writing for stage and screen and completing her memoir, which she is currently working on as her Advanced Project for her M.A. She would also like to look into teaching at the college level. Looking back at her graduate study, Jennifer says, “I think it’s important to note the small class size and personal attention that I’ve received at The College of Saint Rose. All of my professors have always been accessible and encouraging and I think that these are truly special qualities offered at Saint Rose that are not available on all college campuses.”
As you can easily see from these vignettes (and there are hundreds more I could cite), the future of The College of Saint Rose is bright. Your Alma Mater is strong, vibrant, and committed to helping our students grow in so many ways. Our most recent graduates are following a tradition of leadership and service that all of you demonstrate in your lives. Every day, we try to make the College a better place for young people to grow in mind and heart. It’s an easy task when you have students like these and the thousands of others that we are privileged to serve.
We have a commitment to high standards and are focused on academic distinctiveness, being an engaged urban college, embracing diversity, serving our students and preserving our community – local, national and global.
We know that education is about opening doors and seeing what is on the other side, and we expect our students to leave Saint Rose thinking about the world in profoundly fresh and creative ways.
Thank you for being the soul and bedrock foundation of this wonderful college.
Thank you for your ongoing financial support. Please continue to respond to the call for donations, especially donations to support scholarships for our students. It is absolutely vital to our future.
Thank you for being our connection to the past and our partners in shaping a new and vibrant College of Saint Rose.
Thank you for being such loyal Saint Rose alumni and thank you for being with us today and throughout the weekend.
Pray for us and always stay in touch.
Thank you for making the past 15 years at Saint Rose the best 15 years of my life. Our successes and accomplishments are a direct result of your commitment, involvement, loyalty and support. My colleagues and I – faculty, administrators and staff – pledge every day to preserve and build upon the core values that sustain this wonderful college from year to year. We may not yet be the Grand Canyon of higher education, but we are emerging as one of the best colleges in the nation.
You should be very happy and proud to call yourself a graduate of The College of Saint Rose.
I am happy to be back and feel blessed to take part in the many events and activities which celebrate the mission and values of Saint Rose and the founding Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet. Your alma mater is stronger than ever!
Thank you once again for your active support of The College of Saint Rose and for returning for Reunion Weekend this year. I wish you health and happiness and a safe journey home this afternoon.