A year ago, when I first stepped into Alumni Hall as the 11th president of Saint Anselm College, I was eager to embrace the opportunities and challenges that awaited my own freshman year on the Hilltop. As an educator and a lifelong learner, I looked forward to understanding the transformative experience of what was referred to as “being Anselmian.”
And learn, I did. While it certainly was not the year I anticipated—it was not the year anyone could have anticipated, as the world confronted a pandemic the likes of which we have not seen since the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak—I surely discovered what this idea of “being Anselmian” was all about.
When we made the decision in March to cease on-campus classes and activities, the moment was a test of the character and resolve of every student, faculty and staff member, and members of the monastic community, as we pivoted to a remote-learning environment. I am proud to say we met the challenge and emerged as a stronger, smarter and more supportive community.
As for our students, from first years who were just getting their footing, to seniors who faced the disappointment of an abbreviated final semester, their resiliency was nothing short of inspiring.
Meanwhile, many of the Anselmian alumni community continue to serve on the front lines of this global health crisis, working as nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, first responders and nursing home providers. Even more are giving their time and expertise to support those in need, a philanthropic spirit the college experienced firsthand through a tremendous outpouring of financial support for the Anselmian Student Relief Fund and other student-centered causes.
It seems hard to believe we were already having a momentous year at the college, particularly as the first-in-the nation primary season put Saint Anselm in the political spotlight when we hosted the only nationally televised New Hampshire debate on February 7.
Today, as we prepare for a fall semester that promises to be unlike any before, I reflect on the words I shared during my inauguration in October: “We will not limit our challenges out of fear or conflict or timidity; rather, we will challenge our limits by coming together to accomplish the hard but necessary things to keep this college vital for the next generation and the generation after that.”
You may rest assured that we are indeed facing those hard but necessary things to guide us through these challenging times and well beyond.
And we do so as Anselmians. It has been my great pleasure and privilege to become a member of the Saint Anselm family this year, and I so look forward to the years ahead.