Monday, June 14, 2010

After graduation and a Summer Reunion at SMC

It has been a couple of weeks since Commencement and as the campus settles into a "summer schedule" and we have said "later" to our most recent graduates, the always interesting life of a faculty member continues. We are working at the College in re-structuring our curriculum and that means that each of us has to take a critical eye to each of our courses as we determine exactly how they will fit into the new structure. While this can be a labor-intensive activity, it is not a bad thing - I often tell my students how important it is to re-evaluate things on a regular basis. So one of my tasks this week is to take each of my courses and complete the assessment we have been given by the Curriculum Committee - I enjoy this type of challenge because it forces me to critically look at exactly what I DO teach.

This past weekend was Reunion Weekend and we welcome back classes which have graduated 5,10,15, etc. years ago. There is a reception on Friday night where benefactors of the College are welcomed back and where two or three students get to share their current experiences at SMC with some folks who have graduated MANY years ago and others who continue to be benefactors of the College even though they may not have ever attended SMC. We also welcomed back current and past members of the Board of Trustees. On Saturday morning there was an Awards Ceremony over in Ross and several of our alumni were honored. Jack Russell '70, Denis Collet '85 and Deb Liberatore Leblanc '90 were honored as Alumni of the Year - it is always good to hear former students address a public forum and share how their experience HERE has impacted almost everything that they have accomplished in their lives. We often wonder what the impact is of what we do and these folks didn't hesitate to let everyone know just how much their time here and their continued connection with SMC has impacted their lives. Deb thanked Fr. Mike Cronogue and Jennie Cernosia in particular and all three commented on the value of a Catholic education and the presence of the members of the Society of Saint Edmund in their education. Dennis Murphy '60 and his wife Julie were honored with the Rev. John Verret SSE '35 Award and the Col. Donald Cook' '56 USMC Good Citizenship Award was given to Walter Fitzmaurice '49. After the awards, each of the returning class reunions chairpersons presented their class gift to the President. I was sitting with several of the folks from Institutional Advancement along with Bill Wilson and Jerry Flanagan and Buff Lindau. Tanya Makhlina '10 and Christine Amoresano '11 were sitting in front of us. Tanya, who had just graduated a month ago and who just returned from two weeks of volunteering in Haiti and Christine who is working on campus this summer turned to us when the Class of '85 stood and announced their gift and said "they graduated 25 years ago and we aren't even 25 YET" - a sobering thought but one we all laughed over. I was also struck that the Class of '60 who are back celebrating their 50th Reunion actually have a "Social Committee" - they graduated from SMC 50 years ago and their connection is still such a strong bond that they have a group of their classmates who plan social activities for this group - what a testament to them AND to the impact that SMC had on these men 50 years ago that continues today.

At the barbecue held after the Awards Ceremony many of our alumni gathered to re-connect. One couple even got engaged at the barbecue - I guess they saw the amazing reaction to Jamie asking Rachael at Commencement. I had a chance to see Vinnie D'Angelo and his wife Mary and their three kids - the last time I saw their oldest son he was 3 and now he is taller than Vinnie. Katie Moran and her husband and their two kids were back and Tom Robinson and his partner Brian Moore were also back for the Reunion. Between name tags and my memory, I was able to not mess up very many names. After almost 30 years here it is sometimes difficult to put a name with a face and while I seldom forget a face, I often forget the name that goes with that face. :)

I had dinner last night with a group of us who have been connected to SMC and to each other for 25+ years. We attempt to get together every other month for a dinner at one of our homes and we spend around 3 hours just catching up, sharing our lives and talking about our time here at SMC, politics, music, global issues, family, alums and any other "hot" topic of the day. This is always such a wonderful time with good friends who were brought together by Saint Michael's College - Fr. Mike Cronogue, Jennie and Art Cernosia, Sue Kuntz and Ann Giombetti and her partner Karen Mickelson - a good group of good friends. Fr. Mike is the Superior General of the Society of Saint Edmund, Jennie has now retired but returns each fall to teach First Year Seminar, Sue continues to teach Psychology full-time and Ann who used to head up the MOVE program and who left to return to nursing school is now a nurse with the Vermont Department of Health and me. I usually post on Facebook when we are getting together and am always pleased when so many of our former students send responses to the posting - the most common reply is "I am sooooo jealous." :)

We have a celebration in a few minutes where we will be honoring members of the staff and the faculty who have worked at SMC for 10, 15, 20, etc. years. This is another time for the College to thank those of us who give so much to the College and to our students. The barbecue that was scheduled for after this celebration has been canceled due to a pending rain storm but Campus Ministry promised us that they will re-schedule it for another time soon.

Be well, take good care and PLEASE, especially as things in Afghanistan heat up and more and more of our soldiers are wounded or killed , please keep the members of our military and their families (and all of our veterans and their families) in your thoughts and prayers. War by Sebastian Junger is a book I just finished and it is one which helped me better understand the amazing bond that so many members of our military talk about - he is a journalist who was embedded with our troops in Afghanistan for several months - he has a documentary coming out this summer which is entitled Restrepo which will be an incredibly powerful look at the reality of war.....


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