Welcome Center Named after Generous Savard Family

July 1, 2020

By Paul Pronovost '91

Robert '71 and Susan Savard
Robert ’71 and Susan Savard

On a beautiful September afternoon last year, a crowd gathered behind Alumni Hall to witness the groundbreaking of Saint Anselm College’s new Welcome Center.

Robert ’71 and Susan Savard were on hand for the ceremony as part of a weekend visit to the Hilltop. As Senior Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer Jim Flanagan recognized them, he joked with the Savards that the Welcome Center needed a name.

When the groundbreaking was done, Susan sent Bob to the refreshment table to get her a cupcake. When he came back, she told him, “We are going to do this.”

Susan had approached Jim in that moment and soon the Savards were donating $1 million to the Welcome Center, the newest building on the college campus. When it officially opens in September, the Welcome Center will feature a large reception space, an outdoor patio, a presentation room and interview rooms for admissions counselors and student ambassadors to meet with prospective students.

“The Savard Welcome Center will serve as the college’s front porch where we will greet students and their families as they take their initial steps towards becoming future Anselmians,” said President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D. “It serves as a physical reminder of the Benedictine core value of hospitality and welcome.”

Vice President for Enrollment Steve Goetsch pointed out that more than 1,500 prospective students visit the campus each year, including more than 90 percent of the incoming class of first-year students.

“The campus visit is the most important part of our admission and enrollment process, as it allows us to showcase everything that Saint Anselm College has to offer students,” Goetsch said. “The new Savard Welcome Center will only add to the Anselmian experience that our visit provides families.”

Savard Welcome Center
Savard Welcome Center
A longtime supporter of his alma mater, Bob graduated from Saint Anselm in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He was quite active during his years at the college, including participating in the Abbey Players, volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and competing with the varsity ski team.

After a career in the insurance industry, in 1990 Bob became an executive search consultant, leading practice groups within international executive search firms. In 2005, he founded The Desmond Group, a boutique executive search firm, which he operated until his retirement in 2018.

Both Bob and Susan have been active philanthropists focused on the spiritual and physical well-being of individuals and families. And while they have given their time and resources to many worthy causes, Saint Anselm has always held a special place in Bob’s heart.

He has been a member of the President’s Society since his graduation, and in 2006, the Robert F. Savard Annual Scholarship was established to help deserving prospective students become Anselmians.

The Welcome Center is the latest endeavor the Savards have supported. Susan said she was excited when the opportunity was raised.

“I personally find it rewarding that we can do this and at this time so Bob especially can witness how his support can benefit the college,” Susan said.
The reception area of the Career Development Center is also a gift from the Savards, who feel strongly about supporting Anselmians as they begin their careers.

Now, with the Welcome Center, they are supporting students as they begin their Saint Anselm years.

“I was already very interested in sending students off from the college. The Welcome Center is the perfect book-end to that,” Bob said.

The Welcome Center also received support from the estate of Sherwood Blake, an alumnus of the class of 1950.

Dr. Favazza thanked the Savards for their longstanding stewardship of Saint Anselm, pointing out their name will be one of the first that prospective students associate with the college.

“Bob is so passionate about his beloved Hilltop, it is fitting that students will see his name as they begin their journey as Anselmians and when they conclude it,” he said. “We are looking forward to an official opening of the Savard Welcome Center this fall.”

A classmate and friend of Abbot Mark Cooper ’71, O.S.B., Bob views the new facility focused on hospitality as “an enduring tribute to the monastic community of Saint Anselm Abbey and the entire Anselmian family.”

“During my four years as a student and now my 50 years as an alumnus, I have come to view Saint Anselm as my second home and the entire Anselmian community as my extended family,” he said. “At the time of the groundbreaking, the Welcome Center was referred to as the ‘front porch.’ For those entering this ‘home,’ you will always be a member of our Anselmian family.”

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