Saint Anselm College graduates were urged to rise above “division, anger and frustration” Saturday at the school’s 130th commencement.
“The nation seems to have lost its moral compass. Instead of compromise in support of common good, we hear shrill emotional voices dominating the national discussion, untethered to intellectual honest and universal moral principles,” said commencement speaker Kenneth R. Feinberg, administrator of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
“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?”
College President Joseph A. Favazza recalled how he and the graduating class started their Saint Anselm journey together, arriving on the Hilltop in the summer of 2019. He reminded students that he told them on their first day as freshmen they were beginning a “hero’s journey” and now as they commence from the college, they begin another one.
“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,” he told the 470 recipients of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. “And remember, no matter how far you travel on your journey, you will always find respite on this beautiful New Hampshire hilltop.”
Student speaker Meghan Cotraro, a nursing major and member of the women’s lacrosse team, held a copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict during her speech, reminding her classmates that they were just figuring out college life when COVID-19 forced colleges and universities across the country to transition to remote instruction. The challenges posed by the pandemic strengthened the class, she said.
“Whether we knew it as little freshmen or not, this tiny red book is the blueprint for the Anselmian experience,” she said. “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.”
The overcast skies did not put a damper on the festive mood of the day, as the large crowd of family and friends cheered for the graduands as their names were read by Professor Sean Parr, Ph.D. and Nursing Executive Director Maureen O’Reilly, Ph.D.
Other honorary degree recipients included Lawrence and Patricia Pascal, both members of the Class of 1964 and longtime supporters of the college.
During his time on the Hilltop, Larry Pascal studied history, played on the basketball team, and was a member of the Red Key Society. Later earning his J.D. from George Washington University, he is widely regarded as an authority on workers’ compensation laws. Patricia Pascal graduated from the nursing program and worked in the surgical intensive care unit at North Shore Hospital before later working as a public health nurse in Washington, D.C.
Sister Jane Gerety also received an honorary degree. Sister Jane, whose career in health care and education embodies the values of the Sisters of Mercy, was bestowed an honorary doctorate of science.
Abbot Mark Cooper, O.S.B., ’71, the Chancellor of Saint Anselm College, then presented Finance Major Kevin Jordan of Danvers, Mass., and Alicia Kelley a Natural Sciences Major from East Berne, N.Y., with Chancellor’s Awards for the highest grade-point average of 4.0.
During the ceremonies, the college’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) presented the 2023 Distinguished Faculty Award to Dr. Peter Josephson of the Politics Department, citing his positive relations with colleagues and students, and concern for humanity.
On the day prior to commencement, the Senior Honors Convocation recognized the academic achievement of individual members of the undergraduate graduating class. The awards ceremony was followed by the Baccalaureate Mass, with Abbot Mark and the Benedictine monks celebrating the graduation of the class of 2023.
Following commencement, a military commissioning ceremony was held for four members of the class of 2023. Cameron Barbone, Kate Macaluso, Liam Reeve and Joseph Walker were commissioned 2nd Lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Also recognized was Zachery Martin, who will be commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force at a later date.
Aldermen will hold a public hearing next month on proposed charter amendments that would allow Manchester’s school board to set its own budget, the first step in a process to put the issue before voters this fall.