On Saturday, May 20 in front of historic Alumni Hall, 453 members of the Saint Anselm College class of 2023 were celebrated for academic achievement during the 130th Commencement Exercises.
Fifteenstudents in the college’s second graduate school class for the 4+1 Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program also received their diplomas.
The college celebrated the first graduating class in the Master in Education with Special Education Licensure program, with 2 students receiving their diplomas.
College President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D. reflected on the multidimensional nature of learning at Saint Anselm, and how that has prepared the class of 2023 to embark on their transformational post-graduate journey.
Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?
Since we are here this afternoon, dressed in black gowns with cardboard caps on our heads, the class of 2023 must have answered yes to this question posed by Saint Benedict in his Rule for Monks.
We have spent our time here yearning...striving for a life filled with good days. Sure enough, today is THE good day.
Take a moment... skim through four years worth of these good days. When were they? What do they look like? What do they sound like? What did it take to get here today
Good days sometimes come easy here at Saint Anselm... BUT, other times there is no shortage of challenges.
Now, let’s transport back to your freshman year when we first heard that question. College life was new, we were trying to navigate classes, sample the C-shop menu, and calling home to ask if we really needed to separate our laundry. On top of all that, we had to take Conversatio and decipher The Rule of Saint Benedict to learn about Benedictine traditions..
While reading this, I admit I was unsure of the purpose. I mean, I am a female who is not overly religious and is aspiring to become a nurse. I could not become a monk...so why were we reading this?
Nevertheless we read Benedict’s Rule... or at least tried our best to decipher the meaning of what he was saying. All the while, we started to pick up speed and strive towards the good days ahead.
Friday the 13th happened. Spring 2020 college life screeched to a halt.
Our community logged into Zoom.
We were thrown into isolation with masks across our faces. The only sound that rang
through the campus was the bells serving as a reminder that precious time was going by. What now?
We were pulled into silence and isolation that Spring. We had to bring what we had learned about Anselmian campus to our own homes. This change in volume gave us a unique opportunity to listen in a new way to grow in solitude.
In order to continue to yearn for life and desire to see good days, we had to listen with the ear of our heart, and seize the opportunity to do the physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual work to become the best versions of ourselves for future reunion as a campus community.
For some of us athletes, it looked like transforming logs and cinder blocks into at home gym equipment... by the way thanks, Dad... in hopes that someday we could make up for lost time when we put our navy and white Hawks uniforms back on. We learned as a campus that we are never entitled to college life, we are gifted this experience.
Our personal dedication to bettering ourselves strengthened our community and is validated by the good days you can reflect on today.
The class of 2023 overcame the adversity of isolation and persevered as sophomores despite restrictions such as social distancing, one way walking, and the reserved meal times at Dave.
Our sports teams across the board set new records with winning seasons. The Hawks
consistently secured spots in NE-10 and NCAA playoff brackets. Numerous athletes in this class were honored with awards and conference recognition.
Our student nurses became vaccinated early to work in the hospital setting while navigating a pandemic.
As a campus, we came together to fulfill Liam’s Make a Wish in the Fall of 2021 parading campus with the men’s soccer team.
Our Meelia Center flourishes with in person and remote community outreach.
We continue to pack the Carr Center during Relay for Life where we donate our time, money, and hair for those affected by Cancer.
If nothing else, this class never forgot how to celebrate good days in Uppers during a blizzard or the first day over 60 degrees. Remember to cherish the abundance of good days here.
Whether we knew it as little freshmen or not, this tiny red book is the blueprint for the Anselmian experience. There is something special about this place...people are good here, days are good here, life is good here... and it truly comes back to the fundamental concepts of putting in work to achieve an abundance of good days.
Education and majors aside, we have learned how to make a life for ourselves and this realization is something that sneaks up on us and maybe you didn’t realize it until, well, today!
Maybe we won’t be joining the monastery after graduation. We have a different journey but we will still respond to Saint Benedict’s question with humility and understanding of how to truly listen to ourselves and others. We will start to make a life for ourselves.
As you leave today, you will eventually return to a state of solitude. Fear not, you have
done this before and thrived from it. Remember what the little red book told us, yearn for life and desire to see good days.
This is why we will continue to yearn for good days, to be hard workers, and good people, the kind who always hold doors open for people. When the day comes when you are lost, alone, and you want to go back to the good old days, remember that we can rely on the lessons we have learned here, from the little red book.
Today, we will have to drive away from this campus as graduates. Maybe our four or five year journey is over, but now we can take home what it means to be truly Anselmian.
One last word of advice from 15 centuries ago, “do not be daunted immediately by fear and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrowed at the outset. But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path with our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”
With a heart overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love, I wish you all a lifetime of good days! Congratulations to the Class of 2023!
Presented by Destiny Brady, Ph.D.
Every year at commencement the Saint Anselm College Chapter of the American Association of University Professors presents an award for excellence in teaching and scholarship, contributions to the academic community through active and positive relations with colleagues and students—and an involved concern for humanity.
This year’s award recipient clearly fulfills all of these criteria and I am honored as AAUP president to present this award.
When this faculty member came to campus over 20 years ago, it was hard to imagine the changes we’ve now seen. This year’s award recipient has been a highly respected faculty senator, department chair, and campus citizen. He is known by his colleagues to be a productive scholar, excellent teacher, and an advocate for careful consideration and fair judgment. He helped guide his department through periods of controversy and external pressure. Even with a robust research agenda, this faculty member believes strongly in working across departments. He is always ready to help support student research. He has championed religious diversity on campus and has several interdisciplinary publications. A clear proponent for liberal arts education and an educated citizenry, he received several grants to support an in-depth exploration of liberty. In an interview highlighting his work as a faculty member he said: We ought to be asking not just what will make us more secure and prosperous, but what will make us a better people?
Students talk about his classes for hours after they end. One student describes him as an extremely tough grader, but a professor this student continued to take even for electives. An enthusiastic fan of our Women’s Hockey Team and a regular provider of Living Learning Commons Courses, it is hard to imagine a faculty member more involved in the campus life of the college.
This Alaskan born son came to New England for Prep School where he met his wife. He went on to major in Soviet Studies at Oberlin College, earned an MA at the University of New Hampshire, and achieved his PhD in Political Philosophy at Boston College. He has already been awarded the Richard L. Bready Chair in Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good and a Boston College Excellence in Teaching Award. His achievements are many. In addition to some dog mushing skills, he is an accomplished actor with Theatre Kapow, and has twice received the best actor award from the NH Theater Association.
Please join me in congratulating the recipient of the 2023 AAUP Distinguished Faculty Award, Professor of Politics, Dr. Peter Josephson.
DEAR CLASS OF 2023,
Thank you for making me an honorary member of your class. I had just arrived a few weeks earlier than you in 2019 and when you arrived on campus, I said this to you:
Students, you begin a hero and s/hero journey today. This is no ordinary journey. No, this journey will push you hard, but also give you the tools to test unexamined ideas, express yourself clearly and convincingly, and understand that the hero’s victory is never solitary. It comes about because of others who challenge and support you all along the way. Today you leave one community, your family, whose love and sacrifice have brought you this far, and you join other communities: the Benedictines whose spirit infuses all that we do in this place, faculty and staff who will be your fiercest challengers and champions, and your fellow students who will become like siblings to you. Trust me and all of the over 20,000 Anselmian alums when I say: you will be transformed.
Well, was I wrong? It was hard, gave you tools, gave you a supportive community, and put you on a path towards transformation. While you may not know exactly who you are now, I would bet the house that you know that you are not the same person you were 44 months ago.
And, boy, what a journey! College is hard anyway, forcing you to navigate academic challenges, interpersonal relationships, time management, personal responsibility, career opportunities, and (sometimes) demanding professors and coaches. But let’s just up the ante and make it even harder. Let’s navigate a worldwide pandemic in the middle of your college lives. Just when you needed academic support the most, poof, your professors and tutors are on zoom. Just when you needed your community the most, you are stuck at home away from your friends. And just when you think it is all behind you and you come back to campus, you are hit with the most dastardly of all rules: no intervisitation. If I never hear the word “interviz” again, it will be too soon! Yes, your journey was challenging, but here we are. We have survived to tell the tale.
But let’s be honest. We are more than survivors. We have flourished on this Hilltop. Perhaps not every day or even every week, but when you think back to the variety of experiences you have had, and how they have contributed to your transformation, it is staggering. These include athletic competition, late night study in the library, Christmas traditions, our quirky annual celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, life-changing classes, working with that special student through the Meelia Center or Access Academy, serving that special patient during a clinical rotation, an internship with the Manchester Police Department or Fidelity, the opportunity for undergraduate research through the INBRE summer program…and this is just the beginning of the list. Your experiences are so rich and varied. As you commence from this Hilltop, the challenge is to reflect deeply about all of your experiences, within and beyond the classroom, connect them with interests and abilities, and then tell the most compelling story about yourself that companies, non-profits, graduate programs, service organizations all will be lining up at your door to invite you to join them. If there is one thing that I am absolutely confident about, it is your future. Your Saint Anselm experience has prepared far better than you may realize yet.
This process of telling a compelling story about your transformation on the Hilltop reminds me of something I alluded to in my inauguration address in October of your first year. What makes learning at this college so unique? I believe it is because our faculty, staff and monastery pay close attention to the first, second and third persons of learning that all occur within a single student. What do I mean?
Let me start with the third person. Fundamental to the process of teaching and learning is a desire, even a passion, to study “the great thing.” The great thing could be root causes of World War I, the complex anatomy of the hand, the foundational principles of pharmacology, the 2022 mid-term elections, or analyzing the financial data of a Fortune 500 company. These are the great things that are the object of study every day on this campus. Third person learning is where the passion of the faculty member and the curiosity of the student collide. As a faculty member, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a student get excited about an object of study that excites you.
If third person learning is characterized by a passion, second person learning reminds us that, at its essence, learning is relational. If third person learning answers the “what must we learn” question, second person learning answers the “how must we learn and for what purpose” questions. Learning happens in a community where ideas can be debated and opinions informed. In some cases, the most transformational learning comes from another student, an internship supervisor, a food server in Dave, a patient in the hospital, or a client in a community-based agency.
If third person learning is about the great thing and second person is about community, first person focuses on reflection. First person learning happens when the learner explores classic questions of meaning and identity: Who am I? What are my deepest values and what does this mean for my next steps. What we learn challenges and affirms our identity at the same time. It forces us to ask introspective, spiritual, and vocational questions about who we are and what we want to be.
We pay attention to all three persons of learning on this Hilltop. Why? Because you, like the world you now commence towards, are multi-dimensional. The point of education is giving you the tools to know what is worth thinking about, and knowing what to think about is the result of knowing who you are. And this is why learning at Saint Anselm College is transformational.
And because we have flourished on this Hilltop, already this class, my class, is giving back. As of today, nearly 52% of you have made a donation to the Senior Class Gift. A big round of thanks goes to the 21 members of the Senior Class Gift Committee, especially co-chairs Olivia Cappuccio and Claire McMahon! Paddy and I are making a gift as well.
And so, graduates, it is time to begin another hero’s journey. It will be hard but it also will be transformational. Go forth and flourish wherever your next steps lead. You will always be Anselmians in a world in desperate need of Anselmians. And remember, no matter how far you travel on your journey, you will always find respite on the beautiful New Hampshire hilltop.
President Favazza, Chancellor Cooper, Chairman Loughrey, members of the Saint Anselm’s Board of Trustees, distinguished faculty, graduating students, parents and guests:
I promise to obey the first rule of any commencement address – brevity is a virtue. Well-deserved joyous celebrations await.
I offer a few words today in graciously accepting an honorary degree from this distinguished College. I know Saint Anselm’s well from my youth growing up in Brockton, Massachusetts during those optimistic, halcyon days when our fellow New Englander John F. Kennedy served as our Nation’s President. Those were very different days when compared to the atmosphere we confront today, at home and abroad.
Since 1889, Saint Anselm’s has provided a timeless and critically important message – that despite an ever-changing, complex world, characterized by domestic unrest and historical grudges often resulting in war, revolution, and tragedy– this great College remains true to its mission: that faith, the pursuit of truth, and a commitment to essential moral and spiritual values, can together promote a peaceful and healthy sense of community writ large. And it is this dedication to the notion of one Nation, one community, joined together by these fundamental principles, that make Saint Anselm a small College with a large mission.
And today, these values need to be reaffirmed more than ever.
I know this firsthand from personal experience. Just over 20 years ago the United States was suddenly the victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. At that time our Nation – reflecting the very values that we reaffirm today at this commencement ceremony – responded as one united community. The Federal September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, enacted by a united Congress and quickly signed into law by President Bush, provided generous tax-free public compensation to victims of the attacks and their families. In administering this Fund, I distributed over $7 billion to those 2,983 families who lost loved ones on that fateful September day and to over 2,000 victims who survived, many with life altering physical injuries.
No red states/blue states, no Democrats/Republicans, no liberals/conservatives, no political polarization. Instead, our Nation’s leaders were guided by the very same values which are the heartbeat of Saint Anselm – we are one community, unified by faith, moral integrity, intellectual honesty, and bonds of humanity. We are one united Nation ready to provide financial assistance, empathy, and encouragement to the unfortunate victims of life’s misfortune. To the American people, just two decades ago, it was altogether compelling and appropriate that we as one Nation, one community, rally in support of our fellow citizens. The 9/11 Fund was consistent with our history and common values. It was simply deemed to be the right thing to do, whether the victims were American citizens, foreign visitors, or undocumented workers; whether bankers, lawyers, janitors, or restaurant workers. All were eligible for public taxpayer compensation.
It is frankly astounding to compare the differences between how our Nation and its people stood together in the wake of 9/11 and the division, anger, and frustration that characterize discourse in the United States today. Just 20 years ago there was a sense of unity grounded in common values despite political differences; today the Nation’s citizens and our leaders no longer speak with one voice. Instead, the principles promoted by Saint Anselm’s seem overwhelmed by diatribe and invective.
The Nation seems to have lost its moral compass. Instead of compromise in support of the common good, we hear shrill emotional voices dominating the national discussion untethered to intellectual honesty and universal moral principles.
And that is why today, you have an obligation and a duty to advance the fundamental principles and common humanity that historically have guided you and Saint Anselm. Who better than you – whatever your professional and personal goals – to try your best to help return our Nation to a more civil and moral society. Who better than you to help our Nation return to the first principles emphasized by President Kennedy: “Government is not a dirty word; serving the public interest is a noble undertaking.” And President Kennedy must have been referring to graduating students like you when he added: “Every single individual in our Nation can make a difference.”
These words are your compass: to return our civic discourse and deeds to a communitarian ethic that has defined the path of Saint Anselm since 1889.
You confront formidable challenges, but I have confidence that you graduates of Saint Anselm can overcome and conquer these challenges. My optimism is based on a simple fact - I believe there is a little bit of Saint Anselm’s in every one of us. Our own history teaches us that we are all Anselmian to some degree, fashion, and manner. And that means that, despite all the noise and anger, Anselmian first principles will prevail.
I am confident you graduates will assure the success of this message, helping us to once again achieve a sense of National community.
Yes, we are all Anselmians.
“God is King of all the Earth.” So we just heard proclaimed in the refrain of the 3,000 year-old Jewish psalm which provided our response to today’s first Scripture reading from the Acts of the Apostles. “God is King of all the Earth.”
I wonder, is there a better parting word that we might speak and convey to each member of the class of 2023, as with sadness (for you and for us) you depart from us and this campus, which you have called home for nearly four years? “God is King of all the Earth.”
Isn’t that phrase excellent and profound advice we might offer to guide and support each one of you, our soon-to-be graduates, in all the events, decisions, relationships, and choices you will face throughout the remaining decades of your life? “God is King of all the Earth.”
If anyone ever asks you: “That school you went to that you mention sometimes…what did those religious who lived on your campus, (many of them graduates of the school themselves), what did they believe that would make them, give up much freedom, join a monastery, and center their lives around prayer?” One short answer to that question about what was believed: “God is King of all the Earth.”
Each of you has blessed us with your presence for four years during what has not been the easiest of times. You handled the scourge of COVID with grace, courage, and a cooperative spirit. You have been led by our excellent faculty, of whom we can all be proud, to search out, to explore, and to more fully understand new ideas, and ways of thinking and analyzing. What you have learned here will continuously assist you in the years stretching out before you, in your work and in all your relationships with others. You have developed the most special of friendships that have defined, and will continue to define just who you are, for those you meet and engage in the many years to come.
I believe it might do you well to hold on to, and recall in future years the Scripture readings from this final Mass of your time on this campus. There are expressions of faith in these readings that can assist and support you throughout both the many joys, and difficulties, that are a part of every life.
In our first reading, we heard these words spoken in a vision to St. Paul…a man who knew very well the ups and downs of life: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.” The Lord today, 2,000 years later whispers the same thought to the hearts and souls of each one of you, about to graduate and move into a world that can at times be hostile to much of what you were exposed to at this place of learning. The Lord whispers: “Do not be afraid. Speak the truth for I am with you.”
As you prepare to leave Saint Anselm College look to the faith that undergirds all that is done here, and allow it to guide you. It was Jesus in today’s gospel who warned his disciples in his farewell discourse that there would be difficult times ahead. He even told them: “You will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” Jesus compared certain times of our lives to the anguish of a woman in labor. But he concludes: “…but when (a woman) has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain, because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.”
So it must be with each one of us. There will be times of anguish, but the Lord promises: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
Hold on to all that you have learned here in the classroom, on your courts and playing fields, and in your wonderful and precious life-long friendships. And look often to, and ponder the faith that has undergirded this institution from its very first day in 1889.
You are made in the image and likeness of God, a God who loves you beyond all understanding. A God who has an eternal plan for you and who has promised you: “…whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” Throughout your years ahead we will pray for your well-being and for that of your families. We ask that you pray for us and for the success of Saint Anselm College in bringing forth the truths of the faith that are the heart and soul of all that unfolds on this hilltop.
Yes, God is King of all the Earth. And may that God bless you in every endeavor throughout all your days.