PRESIDENT’S LETTER Archbishop Joseph Pittau celebrates mass to open the Centennial year celebration. Ms. Nooyi has been ranked by Fortune magazine as “one of the most powerful women in American business” and has over the last decade transformed PepsiCo for the twenty-first century. The qualities which distinguish her successful leadership are qualities clearly central to and cultivated by a liberal arts education such as ours. Yet when she spoke to us late that afternoon, she declared, “Being a science major myself, having majored in chemistry and physics as an undergraduate and then going on to my master’s in business, I wondered if I could honestly speak to you about the ‘value of a liberal arts degree’.” Indeed Ms. Nooyi could speak luminously of what is at the core of our academic program at CNR. What she has noticed in her long and brilliant career is that it is the “liberal arts” graduates who have been the most successful in life. “I began to look at my successful colleagues at work,” she told the crowded Holy Family Chapel, “my more interesting and well-rounded friends, and some of the more brilliant political leaders of the world. I realized quickly that all of them shared one thing in common—they were all schooled in the liberal arts.” She continued by making the salient point that pursuing a liberal arts education required that a student have “a greater sense of risk and adventure than pursuing an education in the sciences.” Liberal arts graduates 4 2004 ANNUAL R EPORT / THE C OLLEGE OF N EW ROCHELLE are the risk-takers, she discovered, the most adventurous of people. “I believe,” she concluded, “that liberal arts candidates are far from any road to starvation, and no death knell has been sounded… To the contrary, the only bell tolling is for a celebration of the humanities.” Continuing our discussion the next day, we welcomed to our Main Campus four outstanding educators for a special colloquy on the liberal arts. How true to our mission, how special to this year, was the opportunity for the College Community to gather in the Student Campus Center and hear the thoughtful remarks of these distinguished academics as they addressed this issue in this age of technology, an age when many see education just as career preparation and all knowledge divorced from spirituality and religious tradition. Moderator for the afternoon colloquy was our own Sr. Bridget Puzon, OSU, ’57, Editor of Liberal Education, published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, who began the discussion by asking two core questions: How do we educate civilized human beings? And what is the state of liberal education at this time? For the next two hours, responding to these questions was the challenge and the opportunity for three panelists who approached the many facets of a liberal education at the college level with historical references and new insights. In commenting on the significance of the liberal arts, University Professor of Faith and Culture and Chancellor of the University of Dayton, Reverend James L. Heft, SM, focused on the common misunderstandings of Catholic colleges and the liberal arts and clarified the distinctiveness of Catholic intellectual traditions in America. He detailed the “intimate and distinctive relationship” that exists between liberal education and our Catholic intellectual traditions, saying, “Liberal education in a Catholic college is not about deciding who you want to be but rather discovering whom we have been called to be.”
Dr. Dorothy Brown, Professor of History Emerita of Georgetown University, centered her remarks on three Catholic institutions, including The CollegeofNewRochelle, in the evolution of American Catholic higher education. In her presentation, Dr. Brown also recalled visiting CNR two decades ago as a member of a special Middle States Commission on Higher Education team. Charged with reviewing the innovative program of our School ofNew Resources, she vividly remembered our model program as embodying “the essence of a liberal arts curriculum.” Our final presenter at the Colloquy was Executive Director of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Jean Morse. Ms. Morse approached the questions proposed by Sr. Bridget from the vantage point of our accreditation authority, pointing out the challenges we all experience because of the “public unrest for higher education.” Ms. Morse outlined the history of higher education in America and the issues facing all colleges today. “Colleges,” she said, “not only have to define and assess liberal arts student learning and other types of learning but they also need to define and clarify their institutional goals and get those across to the public.” AT OUR HEART: DIVERSITY In February, we returned for the second semester of our academic year to hear the words of one of America’s most important public intellectuals, Cornel West, Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Dr. West is an old friend of The CollegeofNewRochelle. We were gifted with his presence at my presidential inauguration in 1997 when he reminded us all, “Education is not a shield just to get a job. It’s a quest for wisdom and a passion of the mind to know and to explore. Education is not just a process for becoming sophisticated. It is the cultivation of virtue, especially courage. Both religion and education are the shaping and holding of hearts, minds and souls.” It was deeply moving for us that this man of wisdom returned to the College to address another of the basic elements that constitute the bedrock of CNR, and that is our commitment to diversity. 5 2004 ANNUAL R EPORT / THE C OLLEGE OF N EW ROCHELLE Dr. West has made it his life’s work to prod and provoke the conscience of America on such fundamental questions as race, religion, ethnicity, gender and class identification. His message is one that celebrates diversity which enlarges and expands the world of human possibility and reaches a common ground respecting and embracing but never fearing or denying the infinite variety of human life. On a wintry afternoon in Holy Family Chapel, Dr. West focused his intellect and his gift for language—a gift inherited from his Baptist minister grandfather and honed during years of study at the Yale Divinity School —on an overflow crowd of several hundred faculty and students, alumnae/i, family and friends of CNR. Seamlessly weaving the wisdom of Socrates through the lives of such present day heroes and heroines as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, Dr. West explained how Mother Irene Gill and the Ursulines were all part of the same tradition, and that by opening the doors to higher education to long-excluded populations, they made moral and prophetic choices that made a difference in the world. “A century ago, they had the audacity to say that the Christian gospel has something to do with forms of unjustified suffering, unnecessary social misery, unmerited pain and unwarranted grief.” Gathered for the opening convocation are NewRochelle Mayor Timothy Idoni, New York State Lieutenant Governor Mary O’Connor Donohue ’68, CNR President Stephen Sweeny, honorary degree recipients Avery Cardinal Dulles, Mary Lyons and Antonio Coello Novello, and CNR Board Chair Jean Baptiste Nicholson, OSU ’60.