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President's Notes 1.7October 7, 2011
What a week! My gratitude goes out to the whole Regis community for the official welcome you have given me as I begin my presidency. The energy and joy were palpable; the coordination of various events and everyone’s participation showed that we have already been building Regis together. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Regis is a place situated on a lovely hill, and Regis is, most of all, a learning community in which everyone here has an important part. This is our true strength.
I must especially thank our Chief Development Officer, Miriam Finn Sherman ’98, Christina Duggan and their staff in Institutional Advancement, and the Inaugural Committee led by Miriam —and all its extended helpers—who worked through the summer, September and this week to make this week possible. Heidi Hoffman and Claudia Pouravelis reflected with me on the right tone, the clear word, the inspiring message; Elena De Felice produced award-worthy inaugural invitations and programs; Steve Hall and Peter Schipelliti worked with Maureen Iaricci and took over all aspects of the technical production and operation of the Fine Arts Center and coordination of events; Joe Shaughnessy and Rickie Ortiz and their staff oversaw and seamlessly accomplished a remarkable schedule of setting up this space or that and changing the scene, while John Noone even built a staircase up to the inaugural tent in a morning; Dean of Student Life and Ministry Rosemary Mulvihill, RSM, and chaplain Father Paul Kilroy with campus ministers Dawn Doucette-Kaplan and Sister Betsy Conway, CSJ, arranged the liturgy of thanksgiving and brought the vitality of our Student Affairs division to each event; the Glee Club and the Gospel Choir who sang, and the many, many students who served as hosts and hostesses to our guests from greeting them to giving them a ride up or down our hills in the Golf carts; Campus Police Chief Sean Maher and the entire Campus Police team who went above and beyond directing traffic, people, and parking; my Executive Assistants Katya Rego and Marcia Spivey kept the office running smoothly and, with Amalia Fonseca, prepared Morrison House for our guests and made sure our trustees and our academic delegates felt welcome and comfortable; and Aramark caterers and their tireless function director, Martha, who must have gone without sleep all week in order to keep feeding us all—and so well, too!
So many staff and faculty have stopped by to encourage the celebration and to give their assistance in making Inauguration Day fulfill the hospitality of Regis College. Professors Raffaele Florio, Lorna Rinear, Laura Burke, Mary Ann Hart, Bernard Jackson and Marybeth Lamb provoked interdisciplinary discussion in two academic symposiums on Monday morning; the honorable Marie St. Fleur and numerous alumni crowned the afternoon at the Hyland Lecture; and Kathryn Erat and the China scholars reviewed their seminar and excursion to China on Monday evening. Sister Carmela Abbruzzese, CSJ, and the Freshman Year Seminar faculty dovetailed the celebration of Founders’ Day with Inauguration Week, welcoming Tracy Kidder and Sharon McKenna to a full house on Tuesday, when it was clear that students rose to the occasion with their interest and their questions.
I cannot thank all of you enough.
I thank our Board Chair, Donna Norris, MD, and Sister Mary L. Murphy, CSJ, President of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and so many trustees who took time from their very busy schedules to join the campus community at events throughout the week.
Trustees and I started on Saturday, October 1, up in Ogunquit, Maine, attending a fundraising for the Tramuto Foundation led by our trustee, Donato Tramuto; Dr. Norris, Chris McCann, Ruth Kingsbury, Bonnie Moran, Ellen Kearns, Nancy Valentine, and former president/trustee Dr. Mary Jane England, and their spouses or friends, attended along with me, my husband and daughter and Regis staff M. J. Doherty, PhD, Miriam Sherman, Barbara Clancy, and Amy Anderson. Dr. England is on the board of the Tramuto Foundation, and the event is benefiting Regis through a substantial donation to the Mary Jane England, MD, Scholarship at Regis.
Then trustees and I kept on going, attending events showing off student athletes and starting seniors on their final year garbed in cap and gown as we marked our faith with Sunday Mass on October 2. We celebrated the talents of Regis faculty and alumni on Monday; joined Regis faculty, staff and students to enjoy the a cappella singing of the Boston College Heightsmen and listen together to Tracy Kidder and Sharon McKenna as they inspired our students with the story of Deo Gratias and the building of Village Health Works in Burundi on Tuesday; and enjoyed the wonderful President’s Circle gathering touting the performing arts through the JoséMateo Ballet Theater in the Fine Arts Center that evening.
I thank the many delegates from colleges and universities throughout New England and the country who came to celebrate with us on Wednesday. It was an honor to share the stage that afternoon with our honorary degree recipients, Sister Lee Hogan, CSJ, Regis alumna, faculty member, and former academic dean; Loune Viaud of Partners in Health in Haiti; and Dr. Lisa Lynch, Dean of the Heller School, Brandeis University. It was my great pleasure to hear Dr. Lynch give the College the greeting of the larger academic community and speak on “Reimagining Learning.” We are all, in greater Boston, part of an incredible academic community sharing responsibility for helping give direction to the rising generations of our world.
And then on top of it all, we had a Board Meeting yesterday morning and joined students conducting an appreciation luncheon for our household staff!
At various events throughout the week it was a joy to see former Regis faculty and administrators also in our midst, among them Bob Frye, Judy Burling, Sister Margaret McGarry, CSJ, and Sister Therezon Sheerin, CSJ, as well as former members of the CSJ residential community at Regis. I was especially happy to see former Board Chairs Sylvia Simmons, PhD, and Ellen O’Connor ’67, Vice Chancellor, Finance and Administration, University of Massachusetts in Boston, and former trustee Olive Kelly. We are a community reaching into the past and into the future and embracing all our members.
I thank David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner of the Department of Higher Education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Donna Vanderclock, Town Manager of Weston, for bringing Regis the greetings of the Commonwealth and of the town to Regis. We are citizens engaging with the world to influence it for the good.
Finally, it is so fitting, as this community rallied in joy and in action together this week, that we joined together yesterday morning for the celebration of the Eucharist by His Eminence Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Boston. He and I met through our Catholic high school scholarship program at Regis, and Cardinal Seán also graciously agreed to serve on our Haiti Project Advisory Board. We share a sense of mission and know that education is always a spiritual work of mercy. We are a community of faith.
Finally, I thank my Special Assistant M. J. Doherty, PhD, clerk of the works and catcher in the rye behind the scenes for me and the Administrative Council, communicator, public relations director, proofreader and diplomat for the College, and liaison to the Board, always preparing the way ahead and picking up the pieces for all of us to make things good and fine.
For this issue of President’s Notes, I’d like to conclude with a copy of the remarks I offered as a post-communion reflection at yesterday’s liturgy.
Thank you, Regis community. Now let us work hard with joy. The next issue of the President’s Notes will be out on October 20.
A Light Set On A Lampstand
A Post-Communion Reflection at the Inaugural Mass of Thanksgiving October 5, 2011
President Antoinette M. Hays, PhD, RN
You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (Mt 5:13-16).
Thank you, Your Eminence. It is a great privilege to be given the opportunity to speak in the context of this liturgy marking the beginning of my presidency.
Members of the Board of Trustees, Sisters of St. Joseph, Regis College faculty, staff, students, alumni, academic delegates, friends, family, and neighbors, thank you.
We have just heard in the Gospel of Mark and, in Cardinal Sean’s homily, one of the earliest and most abiding Christian calls to action – the call to evangelize, to tell the good news. I have a vision of Catholic higher education as a light set on the lampstand sharing that good news and shining before others so that everyone may see our good deeds and glorify God.
One evening at dusk, I was driving in from western Massachusetts on the Mass Pike and thinking about Regis. I imagined a growing light shining out of the Weston woods on my left and someone asking, “What is that light over there, that wonderful illumination?” And someone else answering, “Oh, that’s Regis College, a cherished community on a hill, a school that brings light into thousands of lives.”
We have received light, and our job is to transmit it, so that all will know the great things that Regis does and the wonderful place that it is.
Let us reflect for a moment on how we at Regis bring the values of the Sisters of St. Joseph to bear on a world filled, as the Sisters put it in their Constitutions, with “grave disharmonies.”
Writer and psychiatrist Robert Coles, drawing on the great literature of the world, expresses this act of reflection and response as tradition, the handing over, the sharing of who we are, where we come from, where we are going. We pass the baton to one another and to successive generations of students, building up character, courage, and compassion.1
Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who read his work at Regis several decades ago, illustrates the importance of sharing what we have been given when he portrays the gathering of a harvest of blackberries that must immediately be shared and cannot be hoarded, lest they will rot.2
As educators, our business is the harvesting and the sharing of the light; we cannot stow it in a bushel basket or hoard it. We must give it to others and allow it to multiply. As educators formed by the values of the Sisters of St. Joseph, our way of sharing the light is loving, gentle, steadfast and spread all over the neighborhood, without distinction of persons —“excellence tempered by gentleness.”3
And so, Regis today is diverse, interdisciplinary, intergenerational, local and global, and it is growing.
The light of learning, radiant in all kinds of interdisciplinary pathways of achievement and a climate of safety and peace.
The light of grace, communicated in the eyes of students, graduate and undergraduate, in the well-trained bodies of athletes and dancers, in the minds and words and classrooms of faculty for whom teaching is the main event, the substance of their daily work and daily bread, and their collective commitment and dedication.
The light of the spirit, inspiring the gestures of staff who bring students along with devotion, day after day, thus passing on a tradition and joining the hearts and hands of all members of the Regis community in actions of service and leadership.
From their beginning in the seventeenth century, the Sisters of St. Joseph went out into the public arena where people needed services.4 As Patricia Byrne, CSJ, has put it, the Sisters of St. Joseph were designated as “hospitallers,” which means that “they were engaged in the type of charitable assistance furnished by hospitals of the day, which were catch-alls for every kind of social problem…. The ministry of the Sisters embraced education in the broadest sense of the term – leading from the unknown to the known….”5
This is our legacy and our responsibility as a Catholic university founded and inspired by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston – this strong and humble sharing of the light through the hospitality and service of educators and caregivers.
Regis is already extending this light and overcoming ignorance through countless alumni who are teachers all over New England and nurse practitioners giving care and comfort in many hospitals and community health centers. As we go forward we will extend the ways in which we multiply our good influence on society.
It is my conviction that this vision of mine resonates with the Sisters’ theme of “excellence tempered by gentleness,” that Regis College, with genuine academic freedom, will be all about learning and sharing the light, all about the love of God and the “dear neighbor.”6
And so, as I begin my presidency, my call to this community is that we remember who we are, recognize the light that gives us purpose, and work together to raise high the light of Regis College, to shine on greater Boston and well beyond!”
Dear Regis community, with the Lord’s help and your hard work, this little light of ours, we’re going to let it shine!
1 Handing One Another Along: Literature and Social Reflection, edited by Trevor Hall and Vicki Kennedy (NY: Random House, 2010), xxii.
2 “Blackberry Picking,” Poems 1965-1975 (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980), 10:
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled, we found a fur,
… glutting our cache….
Each year I hoped they would keep, but knew they would not.
3 “Excellence Tempered by Gentleness,” A Paper Presented to the ACSSJ by Sister Kathleen McCluskey, CSJ, June, 1998.
4 Mary McKay, CSJ, Mount St. Mary's College, and Eleanor Dooley, SSJ, Elms College, “Early History.” Posted at the ACSSJ website
6 Cf. Father Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ, in his Eucharistic Letter: “Our little design,’ he wrote, “and the persons who compose it will be nothing for themselves but wholly absorbed and emptied of self in God and for God and with that, they will be all for the dear neighbour, all for God and the dear neighbour, nothing for themselves.”