During Saint Anselm College's 123rd commencement exercises on Saturday, May 21, commencement speaker Michael Sheehan addressed 433 members of the class of 2016, and Dr. Steven DiSalvo presided over his third commencement as president.
Dr. DiSalvo noted to the class of 2016 that although they are leaving the Hilltop after their four years here, they will always be an Anselmian - always part of the college community.
"When you leave campus today, you will have turned a page on an amazing chapter in your life, and will continue to write your story in new places among new people. But I hope you remember that no matter where your journey takes you, you are always welcome here. You may be leaving the ranks of the student body, but you are now and forever entering the alumni community."
NEWS: "Sheehan Encourages Graduates to Show Anselmian Compassion" (College Communications & Marketing)
NEWS: "Saint Anselm graduates celebrate, move on to next chapter" (Union Leader)
BLOG: "A Message to the Class of 2016" from Dr. DiSalvo, President of the College
VIDEO: Watch the One Hundred and Twenty-third Commencent Exercises in their entirety.
SOCIAL: Tag your Instagram photos and Tweets with #SAC16 – Retweets and photos are compiled on our social media hub, social.anselm.edu.
Photos: Commencement 2016
Speeches & Remarks
Kristine Adams - Student Address
President DiSalvo, Abbot Mark, the Benedictine community, members of the Board of Trustees, honorary degree recipients, distinguished faculty and staff, friends, families, good afternoon and welcome to Saint Anselm College's 123rd commencement ceremony.
Classmates: we first gathered on this green on a sunny day – just like today – three years, eight months, and 28 short days ago. But who's counting? Well I have. I remember sitting in these very plastic chairs, as Father Jonathan welcomed us to campus, thinking that I was not going to fit in here. That I was too strange. Too different. I wasn't Catholic or from a private school in Massachusetts, and I had no idea what a Vineyard Vines or a Lululemon was. Little did I know that we would be met with a great equalizer of awkwardness: spelling our names with our butts. From there on, who we were in high school didn't matter anymore. In those three days, it wasn't the icebreakers, running around campus in 90 minutes on the hottest day of 2012, or watching a hypnotized Brian Salvie give birth that unified us as a class. When we raised our banner in Davison, that's when we became the Saint Anselm College class of 2016.
Although 1,367 days have passed, in some ways, the butterflies in our stomachs never left. Just like you did during Father Jonathan's speech, some of you have already tuned out and are reflecting on the incredible memories we made here. For some, waiting for three hours outside of Davison to be first in line at Christmas Feast or the excitement and irrational stress that is the Annual Gingerbread Building Contest. For others, it may be the nights that turned into mornings with your best friends, winter and spring breaks spent losing yourself in service to others, or building up the courage to hop the fence and take a plunge in Polio Pit. Whatever your dearest memories may be, you did not make them alone.
The same can be said of the accomplishments that led us here today. Look around you. You'll see the professor who spent countless hours working with you to understand a difficult concept or draft your thesis. Take notice of the mentors who challenged you to be the best version of yourself and inspired to pursue your vocation. And don't overlook your friends and relatives, who supported you and encouraged you when you thought today was out of your reach. All of them are beaming with pride. Some may even be crying. I know my mom is. We all should be proud of what we have overcome to be here today and be grateful for the immense support we received along the way.
While there is no doubt that we are elated and sentimental, we cannot deny the fear of what tomorrow brings. Many of us, myself included, are afraid of what comes next. I am not ready to leave the familiarity of Alumni Hall, the relationships that I have made, and what has become our home. With student loans payments steadily approaching, uncertainty in the job market, and the fear that when I say goodbye to you all it may be forever, I worry about whether I'll be able to make it in what people have been telling us is the real world.
Despite the uncertainty of the future; we will meet the challenges that arise, because Saint Anselm College has been preparing us for this very day for the past three years and eight months and 28 days. Change may be what we are most afraid of, but it is also what we are most familiar with: it has been the only constant here. As we transitioned into college in our first year, the Abbey elected a new Abbot for the first time in 26 years, and the Church elected a new Pope. A year later, we witnessed the installation of the college's first lay president and toasted to another century of Saint Anselm College on its 125th Anniversary.
Additionally, we marked the end of an academic era, as the College transitioned to a new core curriculum and phased out the two-year Humanities program, which we were the last class to complete. Even though a select few of us went to every lecture or did all of the readings, Humanities was the cornerstone of what it meant to be a student at Saint Anselm College for much longer than any of us have been alive. Consequently, I hope that you take something from the program. Whether it is a memory of when Professor Bouchard threw his note cards at us during his last lecture in the program or the basic precepts of The Rule of Saint Benedict and learning to "listen with the ear of your heart," may the time we spent together in lecture and seminar bolster and inspire you in the thousands of conversations that lie in your future.
Yet, the lessons that we ought to take away from Saint Anselm College are not limited to what we learned in the Dana Center. It is also important to remember when we came together as Anselmians and made history where it was being made everyday. During the 100th Anniversary of the First in the Nation New Hampshire Primary, we were on the front lines of the democratic process. The world looked to the Hilltop to decide the next President. In times of tragedy, such as the Boston bombing and other numerous global acts of terror, we prayed for peace together on the steps of Joseph Hall. Moreover, we enacted change on our campus and stood up for what we believe in by protesting for social justice and the dignity of all people and relaying for life. Together, we applied what we learned in the classroom and proved that we are educated, engaged, and eager to become contributing members of society.
I urge us all to recall what Father Jonathan advised us here on this quad during freshman orientation. "When challenges come up," he said " – and they surely will – conjure up a memory of today." Just as we have grown since August 23rd, 2012, the meaning of those word have changed. His words no longer bring us back to when everything was new and we were just learning what it meant to be Anselmian. Nostalgia begins today. From now on, those words seek to remind us of May 21st, 2016, the culmination of our experiences here.
Congratulations to my fellow members of the Class of 2016. Regardless of current opinions regarding millennials, our Benedictine liberal arts education will always drive us to seek truth, respect all people, and strive to make a positive impact in the world. This college has given us the proper tools to be agents of change and it is up to all of us to live up to this potential. I look forward to seeing all that you have achieved when we meet on this quad for the next time. Who knows? Maybe three years, eight months, and 28 days from now? Anyway, we won't start counting until tomorrow. Today is for celebrating. Today is for gratitude, and I want to thank all of you for making the past 1,367 days the best days of my life!
Faculty Award - American Association of University Professors, Presented to George Parodi
Each year the Saint Anselm College Chapter of the American Association of University Professors presents the Distinguished Faculty Award at graduation. It recognizes 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.
Active, trusted, innovative, measured, insightful. These are some of the words faculty used in nominating this year's honoree.
Recognized by fellow faculty as one of the best facilitators of intellectual and academic conversations on this campus, our recipient is genuinely interested in the work of colleagues across campus, regardless of discipline.
This outstanding mentor supports newer faculty in ways they characterize as "incredibly helpful." Despite our recipient's understated style, the most senior faculty deeply value our recipient's insights and stop to listen when this person talks. Those who have attended faculty senate meetings will agree that this is remarkable.
After completing a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and a three-year post-doc at New York University, our recipient spent eight years teaching as an assistant and associate professor in Pennsylvania before joining the faculty here. Our recipient served both as department chair and as a faculty senator early on once at Saint Anselm College, but this commitment to colleagues and to the college continues, uncurbed. Indeed, our honoree is currently serving as a senator and this year chaired the Rank and Tenure committee, considered by many to be the most time-consuming, but also the most consequential, senate committee.
After more than 25 years at Saint Anselm College, our recipient remains committed to working closely with students, continuing to direct advanced research and to run special study sessions (our recipient even provides the pizza). Our recipient is recognized by students as one of the most dedicated and supportive faculty members on campus.
This year's prizewinner has published with students and, over a long career, won a number of grants, including one to improve lab-instruction here at Saint Anselm College. Although one of the most experienced teachers on our campus, this professor never stops learning-recently attending a workshop on teaching "Chemistry in the Context of our Planet" and another, organized by the National Science Foundation, on "Chemistry and Art." The Saint Anselm community has been the beneficiary of the insatiable curiosity of this mind, which is always seeking to better understand the world with the help of his chosen discipline, chemistry, but also by going beyond it. This fall our recipient team-taught a brand new course on the Chemistry of Art with a member of the Fine Arts Department.
I would especially like to recognize our recipient's exemplary commitment to the college. He has taught students, carried out research, and generously served the community here for 27 years. All three of his children are Saint Anselm alums. This year his little granddaughter, Claire, helped us celebrate Shakespeare's 400th birthday with a sonnet. It is people like our recipient, and the devotion of their talent, work, and hard-earned expertise, their willingness to give of themselves, that makes Saint Anselm College what it is.
Today, I am honored to present the 2016 AAUP Award for Excellence, in Faculty Accomplishment to Professor George Parodi.
Dr. Steven R. DiSalvo - President's Address
Members of the Class of 2016, Family and Friends, Abbot Mark Cooper and Members of the Monastic Community, Madame Chair Pietrini Smith and Members of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Sheehan, Dr. Montrone, Sr. Maxyne and Mr. Pollard,
It is with great pride and joy that I welcome you to our 123rd commencement celebration and offer my personal congratulations to the Class of 2016 on the completion of their academic degrees. Today we celebrate their accomplishments, and have an opportunity to reflect on the moments that have brought us all together for this happy occasion.
Four years ago you arrived to begin an academic journey that has prepared you well to enter the workforce or to continue your education with graduate studies. A rigorous curriculum, rooted in the liberal arts, has sharpened your oratory abilities, critical thinking skills and theological foundation. This was not simply a transfer of knowledge, but rather a course from which to grow – academically, socially and spiritually. You have been led by the charge to contribute to the common good and for that, you are uniquely Anselmian.
After a few thousand meals in Davison Hall and the Coffee Shop, hundreds of nights in a twin-size bed, dozens of close friendships forged, and countless memories made, today brings closure to your time as an undergraduate.
There are likely many moments that you have been reflecting on in the past week that define your Saint Anselm experience. From the sudden euphoria of freedom and fear of the unknown when your parents dropped you off at Dom or JOA to the terror of realizing you didn't know how to do laundry two weeks later, you have grown alongside one another.
You have celebrated game-winning moments with teammates, questioned humanity alongside fellow volunteers during service trips, and probably walked into at least one class with a question for your classmate: "Did you do the reading?"
And each moment taught you something: About being part of a community. About contributing to the common good. About being prepared.
You have celebrated four years of Homecoming and Family Weekend. You've probably been to at least one intense night of CABingo, took in an Abbey Players performance, and brought a group of friends to the pub on Tuesday night for trivia, especially when Fr. Cecil was playing. And today you can collectively say you "survived senior days!"
Perhaps you met a presidential candidate, or worked behind the scenes at one of the debates.
I hope that being up close and personal with the primary process here on campus has encouraged you to be more active citizens now and in the future. There are few certainties in life, but major political figures visiting our campus is one of them, and as alumni we hope that your pride only grows as you continue to see Saint Anselm in the spotlight.
Events around the globe – and some events that struck too close to home – have shaped you too, and will impact your future as well.
You will enter a world that is full of promise and a fair amount of uncertainty. In your four years on the Hilltop, you have lived through the incomprehensible Sandy Hook shootings and Boston Marathon bombings. Paris and Brussels were attacked. Earthquakes ravaged Nepal, migrant crises continue to unfold across Europe, and the threat of terrorism introduced a new evil to the world.
From Pope Francis' election, to the Ebola crisis and Black Lives Matter movement, headlines bounce around the world at the speed of a Tweet – although I'm told you all prefer "snaps" now. In our hyper-speed world, too often we don't pause to reflect on the news of the day, including those who were lost, among them: Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher, Yogi Berra and David Bowie, Nancy Reagan and Antonin Scalia.
But there has been much to celebrate in the past four years as well. Great strides have been made from diplomatic breakthroughs to groundbreaking discoveries in laboratories and IPOs that continue to set records. You revisited a galaxy far, far away as Star Wars returned to theaters and once again celebrated the Patriots winning the Super Bowl! Our society will only continue to be enhanced by your talents in the years to come. You now hold the keys to make our world a better place. After all, you enter it with a Saint Anselm College degree.
Obtaining a Saint Anselm degree is not designed to be an easy task. Through the best of days, and particularly during the most challenging, you have had friends and family at your side. These years would not have been the same without the support of your loved ones. They share in your joy today. Always remember to tell those around you how much you love them, and thank them for their support.
And at the heart of our college is the Benedictine community. We honor our founders, the monks of the Order of Saint Benedict, and we continue to be grateful to their successors, the monks of Saint Anselm Abbey, for preserving our mission today and into the future, and for meeting the challenges along the way with unwavering optimism and faith.
When you leave campus today, you will have turned a page on an amazing chapter in your life, and will continue to write your story in new places among new people. But I hope you remember that no matter where your journey takes you, you are always welcome here. You may be leaving the ranks of the student body, but you are now and forever entering the alumni community.
While your four years have undoubtedly gone by all too fast, it is this final year that may have left the deepest impression. It was a year named by Pope Francis as a Year of Mercy. He told us "Let us not forget that God forgives and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness." He went on to say that "because we are all sinners, we will find in this jubilee year the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God." It is through those works of mercy that we can authentically reflect on the Word of God and put those words into action.
So I wish you all Godspeed in your lifelong journey. Have faith in the future. And may God guide each and every one of you today and for the rest of your lives as proud graduates of Saint Anselm College.
I leave you with one final thought: College is for four years. Saint Anselm College is forever. Thank you and God Bless you.
Michael Sheehan - Commencement Address
Abbot Mark and members of the monastic community, President DiSalvo, Trustees of the College, Administrators, distinguished faculty, honorary degree recipients, families, friends, and most of all members of the Saint Anselm College Class of 2016, it is my sincere honor to be chosen as your commencement speaker.
Before I even get started, I'd like to ask the Class of 2016 for a standing ovation. Not for me, but for the parents of the Class of 2016. You have no idea of the significant sacrifices they've made to get to this day. Please stand up, turn around and say thank you.
That was beautiful. Now maybe Mom and Dad won't mind so much when you move back in with them.
What a glorious few days God has given us for Senior Days, the Honors Convocation and Baccalaureate Mass, and now Commencement. Blue skies for the whole week, mid 70s, and now a little cloud cover to keep my dermatologist happy. I'd have to give it a solid C+.
Why a C+?
Because even God can't get an A at Saint Anselm College.
But do not worry. If there's one truism I've learned in 30+ years of business it's this: The A students work for the B students. Whose companies eventually get bought out by the C students.
I'd really like to begin by introducing my family upon whose unconditional love and support I depend every single day. I'd really like to, but I can't. Because they didn't come. This is the fifth commencement address I've had the honor to give, yet they still refuse to believe that any institution of higher learning would ask me to speak.
Actually, I do have a family member here today, my cousin Johnny Norton who's a member of the Class of 2018 and working Commencement for the Red Key Society.
I came up to campus for the Republican Debate in early February, so I figured I'd ask Johnny if he wanted to meet for dinner. I got to campus around five in the evening and I called Johnny on his cell. Of course, I had to apologize for waking him at that early hour, but he hopped out of bed and met me at the coffee shop. I shared with him the exciting news that I had just been asked to be this year's Commencement speaker.
"Really?" he asked. "Well...then who else is speaking?"
Sorry, Johnny, life isn't fair. I'm all you got.
I came to Saint Anselm as a student in as haphazard a manner as there possibly is. I had already attended two colleges, the United States Naval Academy and Northeastern University and I was working nights in the library of the Boston Globe when a friend of mine, who was a senior in high school at the time, asked me if I wanted to come along with him on one of his campus visits. It was to a college in New Hampshire I had never heard of, named after a saint I had never prayed to.
My friend went on a campus tour, and I hung out in the waiting room of the admissions office. You can imagine the magazines I had to choose from. Catholic Digest. Magnificat. Christus Veritas. Seriously? I was looking for the deep, meaningful stuff. Rolling Stone. People. The Sports Illustrated Bathing Suit Issue. I was bored, so I filled out an application.
When the letter of acceptance arrived a few weeks later, I said, "hey, why not," and came up that fall as a sophomore transfer. I don't think you could find another alumnus who arrived here on Day One with a greater sense of ambivalence or dispassion.
Saint Anselm College? Hey, why not.
In the 37 years since then, I think it's fairly apparent that the College grew on me. But it wasn't until very recently that I really understood what makes this place, these people so special. And it's not like I didn't try. Differentiating brands and communicating that difference was what I did as an advertising creative for 30 years. I could do it for some of the largest brands in the world, but as a student, alumnus, and member of the Board of Trustees, I could never quite put a finger on what exactly defined this institution.
I can't tell you the number of times I've explained "Well, it's a Benedictine college, run by Benedictine monks." Which invariably leads to the same question, "What's a Benedictine?"
Ah, that's easy to explain: a Benedictine is kind of like a Jesuit. Only with humility.
Given the fact that, since 1972, I am only the fourth Saint Anselm alumnus to address a graduating class at commencement, I think it's appropriate to share a couple of personal experiences from the past few years that helped me finally, and very clearly, understand what it means to be an Anselmian.
When the bombs went off along the finish line of the Boston Marathon three years ago, I felt the same way most of you did. Shocked. Saddened. And deeply offended that someone - anyone - could commit an act of such pure evil.
That evening, I called a friend who was heading up marketing at John Hancock, the primary sponsor of the Marathon, and offered to help in any way I could. He asked me to join a conference call at 10 the next morning. On the call was Jim Gallagher, John Hancock's Chief Administrative Officer. He had just gotten off the phone with Boston Mayor Tom Menino.
Mayor Menino had told him that he wanted to establish a fund to aid survivors, and that he wanted it up and running by 5 p.m. that day. Because that's when he had scheduled a press conference to announce the fund's formation.
Over the course of seven hours, I worked with a very small number of colleagues and associates to name the fund -- One Fund Boston -- create a logo, buy a domain name, set up online payment protocols, work with outside counsel to trademark and incorporate, and make sure it actually worked. When Mayor Menino stepped to the podium at 5 p.m., I'd be lying if I said we were confident that we had pulled it off. But we had.
I remember a conversation with Jim Gallagher that afternoon about expectations of how much money we might be able to raise. We both agreed that we just might be able to raise $10 million. That was Tuesday. We raised $10 million by Thursday. 90 days later, One Fund Boston distributed $61 million to the families of the deceased and the survivors. And by the time we dissolved the organization last December, we had distributed a total of $81 million, making it the single largest privately funded survivor relief effort in US history.
What made it so exceptional is that we never asked anyone for a dime. This was as simple and pure an outpouring of love and compassion as you will ever find, from 200,000 people and 80 countries.
I have a One Fund T-Shirt framed on my office wall. A few weeks ago, a visitor noticed it. Without really thinking, I said, "That was the single most important thing I've done in my life."
Because I saw, firsthand, how that volunteer effort helped survivors heal. No amount of money will ever replace what was lost that April 15. But it most certainly helped ease whatever financial burdens the survivors may have had so they could focus on the healing process.
And, for me, serving other people, more specifically helping people heal, is what it means to be an Anselmian.
In June of 2012, I received the phone call that I had spent most of my adult life dreading. It was my mother, telling me that my father's MRI revealed a brain tumor. My dad was 88 at the time, but he didn't look or act it. Just a few weeks earlier, I had pitched batting practice to him. You have to picture this. He was wearing Adidas cleats and he swung a personalized bat, wooden of course. I threw him a bucket of Rawlings balls. Every single one of them, at the age of 88, he hit into the outfield of a regulation baseball diamond.
And so it was, shortly after getting that call, that my Dad had brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star in World War II, and I had never seen him scared in his life. Until now. My sister and I took turns, spending nights with him in the neurosurgery ICU, sleeping in a chair next to him. It was at that point, when the alarms are the loudest, the sky is the darkest, the hours are the longest, and patients are most vulnerable, that I really learned what makes this college, Saint Anselm, different from any other.
Let me be clear, every nurse who attended to my father was a highly competent superstar. But every so often, I would encounter a nurse who treated my father not just as a patient, but as if he were her father. There was a sense of profound empathy, sensitivity, and optimism that I could feel far better than I can articulate. But it was as real as anything I've every felt. Competency and compassion, kindness and charisma in scrubs and clogs.
And when I would say, "if you don't mind me asking, where did you go to nursing school?" the answer was invariably, "Saint Anselm."
Any college can and should prepare you to go out and be passionate about pursuing a successful career. But there are precious few schools that prepare you to be compassionate as well. Saint Anselm most definitely is one of them.
It doesn't matter what career you choose to pursue. It may be nursing or it may be investment banking. It could be politics or communications, accounting or education. It may be criminal justice or sociology. Regardless, you will meet people who are weak and vulnerable. They may be standing in front of you, or you may have to pull your face out of your smartphone every so often and look to your left and right. But they are there, friends and neighbors, even strangers, who are suffering from addiction, abuse, poverty, physical or mental illness. And you have a choice. Will you ignore them and hurt them? Or will you help them and heal them?
You are an Anselmian, and like those Saint Anselm alums who, with great compassion, comforted my Dad at Mass General at two and three in the morning, I know you will nurture and heal them.
I've asked President DiSalvo and Brother Isaac to shake things up this year, and for the first time in the College's history, the nursing majors will march first. And I ask every member of the Class of 2016 to follow them, literally and figuratively, in the Anselmian tradition of service, kindness, and compassion.
Go be great. Be happy. Be proud.
And no matter what career path you happen choose, when you come across someone who needs healing, be a nurse.
Thank you and God bless you.