The College had surpassed its first half-century and was emerging from the civil unrest of the 1960s and short-lived tenure of its fifth president, Alfonse R. Miele, when Dr. Thomas Manion became president. The Board of Trustees had grown to include a range of lay professionals. Saint Rose was now navigating an identity as an independent college with a religious tradition.
Male students blended in. Academic programs were expanding. And new approaches to teaching, learning, and enjoying campus life were on the minds of students, faculty, and administrators.
Manion, provost at Bryant College in Rhode Island, was named the sixth president (and second lay president) in the summer of 1973. A New England native, he earned his Ph.D. in economics from Clark University. Among other priorities as the new Saint Rose president: a campaign to add and update facilities.
A beloved leader known as both a delegator and motivator, Manion, and his wife, Maureen, regularly opened their Delmar home for campus events. He worked closely with business leaders, including KeyCorp Chief Executive Victor Riley Jr., who chaired the Saint Rose Board of Trustees.
His tenure brought the Activities Center (later Events and Athletics Center), Alumni Hall, the homey-looking Riley, Carondelet, and Cavanaugh halls, and the expansion of what would be named the Neil Hellman Library. Picotte Hall was acquired for the art program.
By the time Manion left after a decade to become president of St. Norbert’s College in De Pere, Wisconsin, Saint Rose enrollment had grown from 860 to 1,150. The faculty expanded from 24 to 105, graduate programs were introduced, alumni giving rose significantly, 200 evening classes were introduced, and the budget increased from $3 million to $11 million.
Manion returned to campus in 1998 to accept an honorary degree and give the commencement address.
Today, The Thomas A. Manion Distinguished Faculty Award still honors a faculty member in recognition of excellence in teaching, outstanding professional accomplishment, and concern for the students demonstrated by influencing their personal and professional lives.