Thomas H. Powell
I start getting excited on Aug. 1. Summer is coming to an end, and the Mount starts to come back to life as we prepare for a new academic year. As August begins, our campus takes on an excitement that you can see and feel as we await the return of our students and faculty.
While most of you were away, the summer has been a busy time as we made many improvements to the campus. We have repaved a few roads and parking lots. The apartments have new roofs. We renovated the Seminary rooms for our seminarians. New classroom furniture is in the Coad Science Hall, and we have made some improvements to Patriot Hall and our Café. I am particularly pleased that in the Phillips Library we installed new electronically controlled shelving and reopened our Rhoads Archives. We were also able to make modifications to enhance accessibility for our students, faculty, and staff with disabilities. And… we started construction of a new wastewater treatment plant which, when it is finished in November, will be the latest in environmentally responsible treatment plants.
The Year of Fr. John Dubois
This year we mark Mount St. Mary’s 207th year. This past Sunday was the 250th birthday of our founder, Fr. John Dubois. To help remind us of our heritage, I have declared this as the year of Fr. Dubois. I hope all Mounties know the great story of Fr. Dubois. In 1791, he escaped the turmoil in France and a threat on his life. Seeking religious freedom, he came to America. He immigrated with little knowledge of our new country. He did not speak English and had no family here. Fortunately he was given shelter by Patrick Henry and, as he learned English, he taught French and became well-loved in his new country. He traveled from Virginia to Maryland, where he founded St. John’s parish in Frederick. During that time, he traveled to Emmitsburg and fell in love with the area that is now Mount St. Mary’s University. In 1808 he founded the Mount as a prep school, college, and seminary for young boys and men. No doubt many people tried to discourage him and told him that what he was attempting to do was impossible. He had little money or benefactors. But he had a dream of a Catholic college to serve his new country. He had a strong faith. He had tremendous self-confidence. He had courage. Fr. Dubois toiled every day to make his dream a reality. He built our Mount for the future generations of Americans. Today we are all beneficiaries of his vision, his faith, and his courage.
In 1826, Fr. Dubois left the Mount to become the Bishop of New York. Our founder is buried at Old St. Patrick’s Church on Mulberry Street in New York City. The next time you visit NYC, I urge you to visit his grave site and pay tribute to this great man.
Given all the recent national discussions about immigration reform and the waves of people seeking refuge in our great country, we must remember that, as Mounties, we are all heirs of an immigrant. We are blessed that this immigrant with faith and courage served our country with distinction.
Perhaps the best way we can pay tribute to Fr. Dubois is to pursue our own goals with faith and courage. Like him, we need to dedicate our lives to building great enterprises that will be around to serve generations during two centuries.
Accreditation and the Campus Master Plan
This year will be historic for us on several fronts. We will complete a ten-year accreditation review. The accreditation process helps to ensure the high quality of our Mount programs and services. This year, Provost Rehm will be asking many students to work with us to prepare for a team of visitors who will be on campus in March.
We will also complete a new campus master plan. The plan will guide the development of our campus over the next decade. Over the next few months, Executive Vice President Soller will hold a number of campus-wide meetings to seek input from our students, faculty, and staff on the planned campus improvements.
A campus free from sexual harassment, violence and discrimination
The national news is full of reports of sexual harassment and assault on college campuses. We have increased our efforts at the Mount to address this scourge and to help ensure that no one on our campus experiences any form of sexual harassment or violence. Likewise, we seek to eradicate any form of discrimination, which damages human dignity. I have asked Vice President Engelstätter to lead a special Title IX team to help us better address these issues at the Mount. We simply cannot tolerate any harassment or violence at the Mount. (You received a special card in your mailbox to detail how you should report any incidents of harassment or violence.)
Our next president
Our Board of Trustees has recently re-launched the search for my successor. Our SGA President, Katie Price, C’15, serves on the search committee to make sure the interests of our students are represented during the process to select the Mount’s 25th president. Our trustees plan to have candidates on campus in November, and I hope that our students will take an active role in visiting with the finalist candidates. I am very confident that our new president will be a person of high integrity and energy, who will take our Mount to a new level of excellence.
Our students are a source of pride
I am very proud of our students. As young adults, you demonstrate a maturity that serves as an example to society. You give me great hope for the future of our country.
May the peace and love of Jesus Christ be with you and your families during this special New Year.