In May, as we approached the back-to-back celebrations of commencement for the Classes of 2021 and 2020, I reflected on how our community triumphed over three distinct yet clearly interconnected challenges we had faced since last spring.
The first was Covid-19, which disrupted our 2020-2021 academic year on the Hilltop. We made it our goal to return to campus last fall and focused energy on how to balance the safety of our community with a robust and rewarding curricular
and co-curricular experience for students. We became skilled at preparing for an unpredictable virus and the issues faced by a congregate-living setting like a college campus. While far from an ideal situation, I believe we navigated the pandemic in a way that could be a case study in crisis management.
Second, many of our students faced financial hardships due to Covid. In response, we created the Anselmian Student Relief Fund to help with basic necessities. More than $92,000 was raised by 624 generous donors, helping 45 students weather the pandemic.
And third, in the days following the death of George Floyd, we watched as our nation confronted the issue of race in America with anger, rhetoric and even violence.
Here at Saint Anselm, we saw this moment as calling us to empathy and action. We believe that the human dignity of all people is foundational to our Catholic and
Benedictine mission and therefore we actively advance the cause of racial equity in society. With this in mind, we as a community responded in a positive manner by creating a number of initiatives to promote dialogue, review curricula and policies, and support our work to make the campus even more inclusive.
Among the many wonderful articles in this issue of Portraits, you will read how we managed campus life during Covid and about one of the many programs launched in response to
my call to action on racial equity. Both are examples of what it means to be Anselmian—helping others and engaging in difficult but vital conversations.
In those days before our commencement weekend, I felt joy for our students and also a sense of victory. We did it!
After 15 difficult months, we were preparing once again to hold large-scale, in-person events. It reminded me how far we had come since the start of the pandemic, and it demonstrated there is little we cannot accomplish when we come together to achieve a common purpose.
Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D.