Evolving plans for new academic, athletic and recreation facilities and the creation of committees to study campus diversity and plan the College's 150th Anniversary celebration were among noteworthy topics addressed by Brother President Ronald Gallagher, FSC, Ph.D. during a State of the College presentation on Feb. 15, 2006.
Nearly 200 Christian Brothers, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders gathered in Le Fevre Theater for what Brother Ronald called "a reflective look back and a look forward" entering his second year as Saint Mary's 28th President.
Brother Ronald reported that College Trustees in January approved the procurement of updated contract pricing for the construction of Filippi Academic Hall, future home of the School of Education, and development of preliminary plans for new athletic and recreation facilities.
Attendees were shown artistic renderings of Filippi Academic Hall and a schematic map showing intended sites for a student health and recreation center and new baseball complex, which would be relocated from its current site to make room for the recreation center. The new baseball field would be adjacent to Saint Mary's Stadium, which houses Gael soccer and lacrosse teams.
Brother Ronald said he expects to soon announce the membership of two special committees. One will examine ways to more fully celebrate campus diversity. The other will be a planning group to anticipate the College's sesquicentennial in 2013.
In reflecting on his first year as president, Brother Ronald thanked the Saint Mary's community for its commitment to the College's Catholic, Lasallian and Liberal Arts mission and values. He particularly noted as strengths of the institutions, the collegiality of faculty, staff and students; collective expertise and commitment of the College faculty and staff; and extensive involvement by students in global, national and local Lasallian service projects.
"During Jan Term, 74 Saint Mary's students were involved in Christian service projects in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, New Orleans, the Bronx, Chicago and elsewhere," he observed. "Since the founding of the Lasallian Volunteer program in 1981, 101 of a total of 376 volunteers have come from SMC. And this year, through our Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA), more than 1,500 students will contribute more than 47,000 hours of service with 60 organizations. This is extraordinary."
Brother Ronald also shared insights from recent meetings with leaders of private, independent, Catholic and Lasallian colleges and universities. He was especially encouraged by two developments:
* A partnership with Bethlehem University (a West Bank Lasallian school which Brother Ronald previously served as Vice Chancellor) in which Bethlehem undergraduates would undertake graduate studies at Saint Mary's to prepare them for future leadership roles at Bethlehem
* A global social justice network involving all worldwide Lasallian colleges and universities
Brother Ronald also commented on several challenges facing Saint Mary's and other institutions of higher learning. These include anticipated reductions in federal grant and loan programs by $12.2 billion, which will especially impact low and middle-income families. As part of its Catholic, Lasallian mission, Saint Mary's seeks to enroll one-quarter of each year's freshman class from low-income families.
"I am concerned about further widening the gap between the haves and have-nots," Brother Ronald observed. "A majority of the young people eligible for college in the next decade will be underrepresented minorities, many of whom would be first generation college students. They will be the victims of these budget cuts."
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