President Hopey's Communications
Read archived versions of the Record, messages to the community and speeches and remarks.
President Hopey's Faculty and Staff Newsletter
The Record features important College news, including information on Merrimack’s mission and vision, strategic plan updates, upcoming community events and new programs and initiatives.
Messages to the Merrimack Community
Dear Merrimack Community,
Christians around the world are gathering to celebrate Holy Week and Easter Sunday, commemorating and giving thanks for Jesus Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, events that invite us to deepen our trust in God’s plan of salvation for the world; embrace the power of faith, hope and love; and renew our collective commitment to alleviating suffering and working on behalf of the marginalized.
While the season of Easter lasts for 50 days until Pentecost Sunday, I would encourage all members of our community to use the next few days while classes are in recess and administrative offices are closed to take time to pause, reflect, rest and rejuvenate. The Christian belief in the Resurrection is an acknowledgment of the power of life over death, good over evil and light over darkness.
As an Augustinian Catholic community, we are called during this holiest of times to reaffirm our commitment to bringing light to the world, respecting the dignity and diversity of individuals and fostering a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.
At the very front of our campus, we have the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher, the name of which and statue of whom draws on an image used by our patron Saint Augustine of Hippo. For Augustine, it is Christ who helps illuminate knowledge for the apprehension of the human mind. We also find on our campus, facing Austin Hall on the quad between Sullivan and Cushing Halls, a statue of Augustine the Learner, whose lifelong pursuit of knowledge and pilgrimage to the truth serve as an example to us all.
For Christians, this pursuit can be an expression of an inner pilgrimage with Christ the Teacher; for adherents of all faiths, a part of the search for God; and for everyone a journey of hope and community amid our shared human experience.
The Augustinian intellectual and spiritual tradition brings learning and love to the academic and vocational experience, developing students who are more self-aware, compassionate, responsible and ethical leaders.
The Easter season is also very special this year because it marks the completion of Merrimack’s 75th anniversary. On March 27, 1947, now more than seven and half decades ago, Fr. Vincent McQuade, O.S.A, Merrimack’s founding president and a Lawrence native, signed the charter along with his Augustinian confreres who formed our first Board of Trustees.
Fr. McQuade and his confreres embedded into the new college Augustinian values and traditions that began more than 75 years ago and date themselves back to the origins and traditions of European universities beginning with the University of Bologna in 1088 and the founding of the Order of Saint Augustine in the mid-13th century from the hills of northern Italy, when hermits committed to lives of prayer and study moved to the cities to respond to the needs of a rapidly growing urban population.
More proximate to our own time, the Augustinians arrived in the United States in 1796 when an Irish friar named Matthew Carr landed in Philadelphia and his successors took up ministries in schools and parishes, including founding Villanova University in 1842. And the service of the Augustinians to the Merrimack Valley began when friars came north and settled in Lawrence, founding St. Mary’s Parish in 1848, to which Merrimack can trace its own lineage.
We stand as an institution at the confluence of a number of long and deep streams of traditions and values. Whether measured on the scale of ancient universities as a whole, the Augustinian traditions started in the 13th century or the presence of the Order in the United States over the past 225 years, even though our modern history may be only 75 years old, our traditions and our values stretch back centuries and across continents to provide us with a solid foundation for the future as they will serve us well during the next 75 years.
Let this Easter Sunday and the celebration of the whole season be an opportunity for reflection. Upon returning from the spot that would become Merrimack for the first time, Fr. McQuade wrote that the Augustinians at St. Mary’s “seemed to be enthusiastic and believed the College would go.” And go we have. We are proud to follow after him and be part of centuries of global traditions. We draw on them to anchor us in our mission and as a source of our community’s aspirations.
I am thankful to be a part of such a strong, dedicated community at Merrimack, one whose history, traditions and values are so important to our identity and our ethos.
It is my hope that each of you, and your families and friends, are safe and healthy.
Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
Dear Merrimack College Community,
Late last week, in a major decision implicating higher education, the Supreme Court of the United States banned the explicit consideration of race within the college admissions process. The decision reverses a practice that many elite, highly selective colleges and universities have been using for more than four decades to build diversity among their student bodies. Since last week’s decision, there have been new court filings that challenge other college admissions practices.
At this point, we know very little about how this decision will ultimately impact diversity in colleges and universities across the United States. What we do know from watching the range of reactions from a variety of stakeholders, is that no matter your views or opinions on affirmative action, this decision will bring change to college admissions. And we also know that last week’s ruling and other decisions that may come will not impact the trajectory of diversity in our country or the responsibility we have as a College to continue to prepare our students for a life of professional success, personal flourishing and informed citizenship.
It is therefore important that we remind the Merrimack College community of our mission and why we believe in the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion now and going forward.
Our mission to enlighten minds, engage hearts and empower lives is rooted in our Catholic faith and Augustinian values. A core value of our Catholic Augustinian tradition is to build a community of scholars welcoming and respecting a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and perspectives. This is who we are, who we have been and who we will continue to be. We take great pride in our mission and values and do our best to live by them on a daily basis and, because of this, every member of our community is here because they earned it and because they belong.
Unlike the institutions involved in the Supreme Court cases, Merrimack does not consider race as a factor in its admissions process, and our application pool and freshman class continue to grow in diversity. Each year, we welcome a new class of students who are more diverse and more talented than ever. We welcome new faculty and staff who contribute to our culture in numerous ways, offering continuous opportunities to learn from one another and the different perspectives and experiences we each bring.
Change is inevitable, but every institution of higher education must have a mission that inspires and empowers as its bedrock. Merrimack College’s mission, rooted in our Catholic faith and Augustinian values, should bring comfort and confidence to our alumni, students, faculty, and staff that our goal is to be more – more diverse, more inclusive and more focused on creating opportunities for diverse students.
We have been committed to being and will continue to be a leader in creating educational opportunities to make higher education more accessible to all students. From our early college programs to the Unity House to our investments in student aid and our advocacy for innovative initiatives like a three-year degree, the College remains committed to fostering an environment where everyone is welcome, known, valued and supported. This commitment is what makes Merrimack such an exceptional community and why more than 14,000 high school and transfer students of varying diverse backgrounds applied to join our incoming class this fall.
We will continue to grow as a community that embraces and affirms our diversity of students and will continue to thrive and prosper as the world around us changes because our mission, values and faith tells us so.
God bless, be well, and be safe.
Dr. Christopher E. Hopey
Dr. Michael Mobley
Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Mr. Peter Rojas
Co-Chair, President’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Council
Dr. Jimmy Franco
Co-Chair, President’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Council
Dear Merrimack College Community,
Almost 60 years ago, in a narrow jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned a letter that became a core text of the civil rights movement and indeed an intellectual reflection on the nature of justice. Dr. King wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail on April 16, 1963, in response to white clergymen’s criticism of the Birmingham Campaign, a nonviolent campaign against the city’s systemic segregation.
The letter was Dr. King’s edict on the importance of nonviolent, direct action in the face of injustice. It would become widely circulated and republished, and held as one of the many examples of the incredible power Dr. King’s words held.
In the letter, Dr. King references a thinker with whom we in the Merrimack community are very familiar. “I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all,’” wrote Dr. King. Whether it is laws, actions or statements, that which is unjust is fundamentally destructive to society. Discrimination, oppression and social injustices are barriers that have caused too much pain, and have limited our country from realizing its greatest potential.
It is also through the traditions of St. Augustine that we as a Catholic college community understand the importance of seeking truth through inquiry and dialogue. This also sits at the core of Dr. King’s words in the Letter from Birmingham Jail and in his actions as a civil rights leader.
In explaining that a goal of direct action is to lead to negotiation, King wrote, “Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in the tragic attempt to live in monologue rather than dialogue.”
Just as it was in 1963, today dialogue is a vital component of ensuring equity for all people. It is through dialogue we as a society can work together to foster a just, peaceful and sustainable world. Dialogue informs the wisdom in which society bases its decisions.
As we honor Dr. King’s legacy this day, let us affirm our commitment to dialogue and inquiry that will hearten our community’s ongoing work to value, nurture and respect all identities and differences.
To further honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, the Merrimack community is invited to “Breaking Bread: A conversation and dinner focusing on our “beloved community” on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. at the Unity House. If you have any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you are able today, stop by the Office of Intercultural Initiatives and Athletics information table that will bring awareness to the legacy of Dr. King by providing resources and a reading list on the civil rights movement. They will be set up at Hammel Court prior to the women’s basketball (5 p.m.) and men’s basketball (7:30 p.m.) MLK Day doubleheader.
Be safe, be well and God bless.
Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
Dear Merrimack College Community,
The past few weeks have laid heavy on our hearts and minds. Unprovoked and senseless attacks have again stolen the lives of too many people simply going about their days.
Citizens in Ukraine, patrons in a Buffalo grocery store, parishioners at a church in Laguna Woods, California and now children and teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, are the latest victims of horrific acts of violence that we condemn in the strongest possible sense.
Hate and violence against one is hate and violence against all. Hatred cannot be allowed to define who we are as a society. All of us have a responsibility to uphold decency, tend to the suffering and call out wrongs perpetrated against others. Society only functions when we individually and collectively condemn violence and work to address its root causes.
Merrimack’s mission as a Catholic and Augustinian college demands that as we go about the work of enlightening minds, engaging hearts and empowering lives, we do so with attention to the inherent dignity of every human being. In that sense, ours is not only a task about committing to work towards social betterment and change. We also bear the responsibility of treating each other with respect, dignity and charity; of working person to person, neighbor to neighbor to bring light to places of darkness, to counter despair with the virtue of hope.
We also know the power of prayer. And that is where we hold these victims, their families and communities. Let us call upon God for wisdom as we work to process our sorrow and anger and confusion, as well as for support for the loved ones suffering unimaginable loss. As we grieve and cope as a campus community and a nation, we must trust the memories and spirits of these victims will live on in those who will miss them the most.
I would be remiss if I did not reiterate the College’s commitment to the safety of each and every person in our community and on our campus. We continue to work to expand our efforts and deepen our impact in areas of wellness, mental health, outreach and campus safety.
I encourage anyone who needs assistance processing these difficult events to please contact the Counseling Center (978-837-5444). And please know that the Merrimack College Police Department is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep our campus and community safe. They can be reached at 978-837-5555.
Be safe, be well and look out for each other.
Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
Dear Merrimack College Community-
The past year has been challenging and difficult. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a range of systemic problems and social and economic vulnerabilities, including health disparities, food insecurity, affordable housing, income inequality and gaps in access to quality education.
The tragic killing of George Floyd in May 2020 has further exposed systemic racism in our society, and has added a layer of anguish and anger to the suffering and frustration experienced by many members of ethnic, racial and other marginalized and underserved communities. George Floyd’s death, and the senseless deaths that followed, have ignited mass protests calling for change and accountability across our society.
This afternoon’s guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is a just and moral outcome for the killing of George Floyd. Our hearts and prayers are with George Floyd, his family and friends and all of those who have faced injustice and discrimination. Today’s verdict provides members of our community with the opportunity to support with passion and conviction those who have been historically harmed by racial prejudice, and to pledge our longstanding commitment to eradicate injustice everywhere.
In recent weeks, we have witnessed rising violence against Asian, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a dozen demoralizing mass shooting events and deaths, and continued tragic and senseless killings. The entire Merrimack community mourns the recent loss of lives, and stands in compassion and solidarity with the families and communities impacted by these tragedies.
The escalation in violence across the United States is a harsh reminder that the problems facing us do not have quick-fix solutions. These violent acts remind us how far we have to go, and how much work we must all do to change the trajectory of our society to make it more equitable, fair and just for all.
Merrimack’s Augustinian Catholic values, and unwavering determination to nurture a culturally and racially diverse community, anchored in justice and respect for all will continue to guide us as we come together to confront the challenges facing us. The College’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is now a pillar of our new five year strategic plan, the Agenda for the Future (AFF).
The College is planning two events as the spring semester comes to an end to address recent events and their implications for our ongoing DEI, and to inspire hope:
A virtual open forum on racial justice and other systemic problems will be held on Thursday, April 22, from noon-1 p.m. Zoom Link
An in-person socially distanced vigil will be held on Thursday, April 22, at 1:15 p.m. by the pond outside Palmisano Hall. The vigil is intended to bring together campus members to reflect on the tragedies, and collectively mourn the loss of so many people over the past year.
Additional forums will be scheduled over the summer.
We hope you will participate in one or more of these events over the next few weeks and into the summer.
Be safe, be well and look out for each other. God Bless.
Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
John “Sean” Condon, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Doggett, Ed.D.
Executive Vice President
Chief Financial and Operating Officer
Simona Sharoni, Ph.D.
Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Dear Merrimack College Community –
Violence and prejudice directed at members of Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities (AAPI) have been on the rise, escalating as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. These horrendous acts go against Merrimack College’s core values of building and nurturing a culturally, racially diverse community, anchored in intersectional justice and respect for all identities and differences.
The entire Merrimack community mourns the recent loss of innocent lives in Atlanta; we condemn all acts of violence motivated by prejudice and stand in solidarity with the AAPI community. At this difficult moment in our Nation’s history, we must stand together to affirm our institutional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will continue to invest in nurturing an inclusive learning and working environment where everyone is welcomed, respected, and supported.
To the Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander members of our community: we stand with you in friendship and support. Our values and actions – and how we treat one another – define who we are as a community. We encourage all members of the Merrimack community to continue to model the actions of a just society.
On Monday, March 22, at Noon we will gather for a virtual community forum designed to offer healing, safety and to discuss the rise of anti-Asian violence during COVID-19 and reflect on how Merrimack College can be a part of positive change.
Finally, I remind all members of our community that Merrimack College offers a range of resources for any member of our community who is experiencing anxiety, stress or harassment as a result of prejudice. These resources are available to you at any time. These resources include:
(email@example.com or 978-837-5507)
Offers 24/7 support to students who are living on-campus. There are Resident Advisors and professional staff members here to support you.
(firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-837-5508)
Offers engagement opportunities for students and is the home for our affinity student organizations.
Offers educational opportunities and resources on nurturing a sense of community and belonging with an unwavering commitment to and respect for diversity and the plurality of identities and experiences.
Helps Merrimack students develop spiritually and become more self-aware, compassionate, responsible and ethical leaders.
(email@example.com or 978-837-5175)
Provides students with resources, services and opportunities to get involved in community building and wellness on campus.
Offers 24/7 support to ensure that our community and students are healthy and safe.
Merrimack will continue to fulfill its promises to promote inclusivity and diversity across its campus and the world. We will continue to engage our students, faculty and staff in ongoing conversations and will continue to spread our message of hope and change.
Thank you for your continued efforts to nurture tolerance at Merrimack. Together we can continue and work together to make our communities more inclusive, peaceful and just.
Dear Merrimack College Community,
We acknowledge that this is a difficult and painful time, marked again by a series of tragic acts of police violence against people of color. The recent deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor and others have created both outrage and pain for so many, and forced all of us to recognize these are not isolated incidents, nor are they the only examples in society of the unequal treatment of Black Americans. Society can no longer dismiss these incidents, they must stop and we are all responsible for ensuring that they do.
For those who are hurting, please accept our heartfelt compassion and support. For those who are outraged, we support your right to peacefully protest and speak out against injustice. For those who are silent, we ask that you get involved. For all members of our community, we stand together in solidarity for what is right and just and we believe significant systemic change is required to heal and rebuild trust. We must all do more.
I also want to reaffirm Merrimack’s deep commitment to educating young people from a range of diverse communities, and in doing so, preparing students to combat racism, injustice and economic inequality throughout our society.
Merrimack is proud of its growing diversity, and while we have made efforts to create an equitable and inclusive community, we know there is more we can and must do.
We must also challenge ourselves and ask the question of how can Merrimack have the greatest impact in the effort to dismantle systems of racism, oppression and inequality.
Therefore, I would like to announce a series of actions we will take over the next few months towards making Merrimack the most welcoming, diverse, equitable and inclusive community possible.
First, the College will appoint a Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This position will seek to leverage the College’s current efforts and initiatives to develop and introduce new and emerging practices to move the College forward in creating a more welcoming and inclusive learning and working community with a particular focus on the needs of underrepresented and/or marginalized student populations.
Second, we will require anti-racism education for all members of our community including trustees, executives, faculty, staff and students.
Third, we will be making a deeper commitment to college access both by expanding our early college program, increasing our Pioneer Scholars and creating additional scholarships for minority students entering in the Fall of 2021.
Finally, this Friday will mark the 155th celebration of “Juneteenth,” an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and the enslaved were free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
In order to recognize this important moment in the country’s history, we ask that Merrimack students, faculty, staff and alumni observe this day to reflect on how you can be part of positive change.
The observation of “Juneteenth,” and the establishment of the position of Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the expansion of college access, and the implementation of anti-racism education for all community members are just four initial action items at the beginning of a series of specific steps the College will be taking on its continuous quest for equity and social justice.
I want to thank our entire community, but especially our students who over the past few weeks have engaged with me in difficult and important conversations. I have walked away from those conversations more informed and more hopeful in the future and have been impressed by their passion, their commitment for what is right and just, and their focus on how to ensure long term success in the future of our society. Merrimack will continue to fulfill its promises to promote inclusivity and diversity across its campus and the world. We will continue to engage our students, faculty and staff in ongoing conversations, in the development of activities and academic opportunities in order to increase our collective knowledge and skills so that we may continue to spread our message of hope and change.
Thank you for your continued efforts to bring this community together so that we may move forward into a more inclusive, peaceful and just world.
Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
Dear Merrimack College Community,
In the past three months, across the United States and the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges and uncertainty for us all. While we have all felt the impact of COVID-19, the reality is the effects of COVID-19 are but another example of how some communities – especially those in lower socio-economic and minority communities, are adversely affected because of where they live or who they are. The societal disparities these communities address every day are exacerbated by this virus, and by yet another set of clear and senseless actions such as the death of George Floyd. The pandemic and the too-long list of recent victims of racism and injustice have come together to represent more than just disparate events in history, they are the once in a generation breaking points that have led to massive peaceful protests calling for justice and equality and the end of discrimination, the elimination of income disparity and for social justice.
The peaceful demonstrations and the sometimes aggressive protests that are sweeping across our country are no longer limited to faraway cities or towns, they are in our communities and they are reminding all of us of the deep wounds that run through our communities from years of inequality and injustice. These recent events should outrage us to take action, make us look in the mirror and call us to do more to solve these problems, and address our collective concerns as a community. Deeply rooted problems such as these require us all to listen and challenge ourselves. To do so we need leadership that brings people together to face the challenges we have and move forward with greater appreciation for each other. The leadership of divisiveness, hatred and bigotry achieves the exact opposite and can never be tolerated or ignored. Nor can we meet that type of leadership with violence, it will only dissipate the message of hope and change.
These past few weeks show us that there is much more work to be done to eliminate the scourge of injustice and inequality. Merrimack College is dedicated to its founding values of teaching, learning and serving – which includes equality, inclusion, education and discovery for all. It is our duty, as an institution of higher learning, to ask ourselves how will we make the world a better place and how will we better the lives of others. To do this, we must listen. We must learn. We must pursue progress. And most of all, we must open our hearts and minds. I am very proud of the progress Merrimack College has made towards making a difference in our community and our world, but we have much more to do and more people to serve.
We all have the basic rights endowed upon us in the Constitution, including the right to peacefully protest and the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But sometimes those rights are not used to help others. I encourage all of our community members to peacefully protest, to stand up against injustice and inequality and to be heard. You have a responsibility as Merrimack College community members to speak out when you witness something that is wrong and to get involved, to activate, to organize and to vote. Real change comes not from simply watching but by organizing, acting and voting for what you believe in and participating in our democracy. The future is now in the hands of the rising generations. What this past week has shown us is that the rising generations now want a voice, a voice that is educated, inclusive, just and very capable. Because of this, I know our future is bright, but this moment will be difficult. I encourage everyone not to lose hope, we know the vast majority of our country has good leaders, good police officers, good protesters and good citizens who love their neighbors and their country. This time requires this majority to do more and to look out for others and to get more involved.
As we look to reopen our campus in the fall, we will do so with open hearts, open minds and open arms. We will not tolerate hate, violence, racial injustice or inequality. Our unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusivity and the rights of others is fundamental to who we are. We must work together to create a world where each of us can live in peace, kindness and safety.
Be safe, be well and look out for each other. God Bless.
Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D.
Speeches and Remarks
Good evening, everyone. And welcome.
Tonight, we celebrate not just our 75 years as an Augustinian Catholic college, but the renewal of this wonderful house of worship and fellowship.
We also honor the founders of this College, the Augustinian friars, and especially Father Raymond Dlugos, who later this evening will receive the Merrimack College Saint Augustine Medal, which recognizes those in the Merrimack community who best embody the values of Saint Augustine.
I am humbled and appreciative that after all we have gone through the past few years. we are gathering together in person this evening in celebration.
As one of the original buildings on this campus, this church is the bedrock upon which our community, over the past 75 years, has been built and grown.
It is not just where mass is celebrated, or where alumni have professed their love in marriage.
It is a hub of learning, celebration, nourishment and community.
Tonight, we bear witness to the evolution, the capacity and the glory of Merrimack College from our humble beginnings in 1947 to today.
Over the past 75 years, Merrimack has remained steadfast in its commitment to the development of the whole person through excellence, truth, justice and service to others.
Our mission: to enlighten minds, engage hearts and empower lives is more than just a set of words.
It is a duty that we practice and preach each and every day.
At this time, I ask that you turn your attention to the screens behind me for a wonderful video that some of you have seen but it has been updated.
It highlights our founding story and showcases our incredible growth and resilience over the past few years.
Although tonight is about celebrating our past–and as you saw in the video it has been an exciting 75 years–it is also about our future and what the next 75 years will bring to Merrimack College.
As we have come out of COVID we have reflected more on the ways Merrimack College will exceed the potential we dream for its future.
What will happen in the year 2097 when Merrimack College students, faculty, staff, alumni, boosters and donors, come together to mark the College’s 150th anniversary.
What will they say about the work we have done together? How will this campus be transformed in the next 75 years? Who will have the foresight to imagine Merrimack College 75 years from now?
Although some of this exercise is hypothetical, it is not impossible to try and answer those questions.
To do so, I want to start at the beginning with Father Vincent McQuade, the founding president of Merrimack College, and the Augustinian friars of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova.
In 1947 at the behest of Cardinal Richard Cushing, and with little money and few resources, together they sought to provide the Merrimack Valley and veterans returning from World War II a resource for higher learning.
A place for them to explore their intellectual curiosity, practice their Catholicism, and create better opportunities for themselves and their families.
From a single small house and a cinder block classroom building across the street, Father McQuade’s aspirations led to the flourishing campus we are on today.
He and his friars’ devotion to their Catholic mission; their commitment to a liberal arts education; and their service to the Merrimack Valley, and to the city of Lawrence, may all seem quite simple and obvious by today’s standards.
But they were incredibly profound and laid the groundwork for Merrimack’s journey over the past 75 years.
We are the benefactors of the generations before us, of Father McQuade and his Augustinian brothers, for their resolve, for their perseverance and their unwavering dedication to this institution and its mission.
It is important to recognize that since the end of World War II, our world has profoundly changed.
We have seen many good and bad years. We have faced wars, new diseases, economically hard times and historic cultural shifts.
We have witnessed great mobility, new technologies, new domains of knowledge that were never dreamed of and advances in medicine and science that have changed the lives of billions of people.
In the 75 years of this institution’s history, everything has changed.
But through it all this community came together to overcome the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities.
And thus we have experienced periods of greatness, of growth, of strength and of community.
All of this is to remind you that the road to excellence is seldom perfect or a straight line.
The past 75 years show us that persistence, fidelity to mission, a belief in something greater than ourselves, love, care and compassion, are all hallmarks of the Merrimack story.
when I became president more than a decade ago it was never my intention for Merrimack to stay as is.
Our collective efforts have been–and still are–focused on maintaining the elements that enrich the ethos of Merrimack, while at the same time contemporizing our endeavors in a constantly changing world.
Our greatest challenge over the next 75 years will be that continuous change.
We have demonstrated the awesome potential that growth, impact and success afford us all.
But there needs to be a reason for being ambitious. There needs to be purpose in success. And for Merrimack College, that purpose is extending the reach of our mission.
We have evolved from a small liberal arts, local Catholic college, with just over 100 students, into a nationally recognized, master’s comprehensive institution of higher learning with more than 5,500 students from around the world, and a growing portfolio of academic programs, sponsored research and a bright, talented and growing faculty.
We have through our hard work and dedication over the past 75 years, graduated more than 30,000 alumni who have made their mark on the world.
Our success is not by happenstance or mistake.
With Father McQuade’s vision as the catalyst, our work has been deliberate; it has been intentional; it has been mission-driven; and it has been accomplished by so many hard-working and collaborative people over the past 75 years.
Of course, as incredible as our ascension is; as momentous as the progress we have made is; as wonderful as it is to be part of the Merrimack community, the reality is all of us here today are just stewards of time in the story of this College.
So I pose these questions again: when the Merrimack community comes together to celebrate the College’s 150th anniversary in the year 2097, will they do it in a newly renovated Collegiate Church?
Will it be attended by 200 people or 20,000 people?
What accomplishments, initiatives and campus additions will they champion?
What will their highlight video showcase?
And what will they say about our time at Merrimack?
I think they will speak of us the same way we speak of Father McQuade; through a deep commitment to faith and mission, with one eye on the needs of the present and the other on the demands of the future, the visionary work done at Merrimack over these past 75 years–and particularly by the people in this room over the past two decades–fortified the College’s mission to enlighten minds, engage hearts and empower lives.
And in doing so, positioned Merrimack College for excellence across generations.
Father McQuade walked, so the Merrimack of today could run, so the Merrimack of the future can fly.
And that future is exceptionally bright because we are working together to ensure the next 75 years are as good as the past 75 years.
The Merrimack spirit, the Warrior spirit, the Augustinian spirit will allow us to maintain our growing momentum, solidify our impact at home and abroad, and galvanize our mission.
I am not one to believe that the headwinds of today will be the headwinds of tomorrow.
Therefore, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that whatever Merrimack’s future is, we take advantage of the opportunities in front of us, we overcome the obstacles that could stop us, and we be bold in our pursuits to make Merrimack a positive and forward-thinking influence on the people we educate, the faculty and staff we support, and the greater communities we impact.
This building is not complete yet. But we are very excited about this sacred space and this building, and the important role it will play in our community going forward.
Thank you all very much for being here.
And thank you for your continued commitment to Merrimack.
Thank you, Provost Condon, Chairman Boyce and Dean Sanchez.
Welcome to our distinguished guests, trustees, local officials, town leaders, College alumni, and our faculty and School of Science and Engineering leaders who will use this wonderful new facility in just a few short days.
So we have gathered tonight to celebrate Merrimack’s future, to celebrate the future of engineering and computational sciences here at Merrimack.
We are here today to celebrate another example of how and why Merrimack College looks toward the future with confidence.
Transformation is sometimes a word that is overused.
Transformation is a word that is sometimes too far of a reach when describing something.
People say something is transformative when it is really short-lived.
But this facility represents the seeds of something truly transformative for this College and the wider community.
This facility represents a pivot for this College. That pivot has three components: growth, mission and impact.
These are the three pillars of our Agenda for the Future. This facility will spur the growth of our science and engineering programs. There will be more students interested in attending Merrimack College because of our investment in this space. There will be more faculty who want to teach here and join our ranks.
But this growth will not be limited to just Merrimack College. When our students graduate from here, many of them will stay local providing thousands of highly qualified, highly skilled employees to the Merrimack Valley in areas like data science, computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering and robotics.
It will serve as a real catalyst for economic growth in the Merrimack Valley for the foreseeable future.
This new facility will also serve our mission well.
As an Augustinian Catholic college, our educational endeavors, our responsibility, our calling is simple – to prepare our students to go into the world and make a difference in a moral, spiritual, and ethical way; to do better not just for themselves but for others.
This investment will allow our alumni to learn how to literally build bridges, develop programs, and make discoveries that will have life-changing impacts on our community and beyond – that is a noble and spiritual mission.
This facility will impact Merrimack College’s ranking and reputation, it will attract better and brighter students and a new level of faculty and researchers.
Our overall investment in STEM education and research is an investment in the advancement of society, the advancement of our community, and the advancement of ourselves and our young people.
It is a commitment to the exploration of “what’s next?”
The next engineering marvel, technological innovation or scientific discovery that will profoundly reshape our day-to-day lives could very well come from this facility.
As Dean Sanchez noted, we have ambitious goals for the School of Science and Engineering, for our faculty and staff, and most importantly, for our students present and future.
We will have graduates from this school– and from this facility –who will be the next generation of business owners and entrepreneurs in the Merrimack Valley. They will create, nurture and lead businesses and enterprises that may ultimately employ thousands of our local citizens in high-paying, high-skill jobs of the 21st century, creating more economic development and more opportunities for our neighborhood to flourish and prosper.
This facility will also open up further opportunities to bring together and expand our STEM programs in Palmisano Hall.
We will expand our life sciences programs and sponsored research endeavors, positioning them to thrive exponentially. Additional resources will allow new engineering programs like chemical engineering, biomechanical engineering, nanotechnologies and neurosciences to incubate and develop and hopefully spur the investment in further STEM faculty and buildings on this campus.
This in turn will lead to more students involved in the betterment of lives near and far.
So as you can see, the impact of this facility will be quite profound. In fact, it should be transformative.
It will be a multiplier for our greater community in ways that were only dreamed about in 1947 when this was farmland.
As many of you know, this year marks our 75th anniversary. It marks not just the longevity of the institution, but also the institution’s ascension to the next level in our educational, spiritual, research and service-minded mission.
We are an anchor institution in this community and region. It is our duty to continue to act as one and to serve our mission by enlightening minds, engaging hearts and empowering lives.
When we opened our new nursing center, I spoke about our journey of climbing a mountain and going from the first peak to the second peak. This facility represents us reaching that first peak.
This facility will enable us to reach the second peak; the peak we haven’t seen but know is there. The peak others have told us about but we have yet to plant our flag in.
With this facility, we can see the next step of the College’s wonderful journey. We can see with more clarity where we are going and where we need to be.
So this isn’t just a building with four walls and 25,000 square feet of space. It isn’t just 2 acres and 50 parking spaces. It isn’t just 510 and 530 Turnpike street.
It represents a transformation of Merrimack’s impact on the community and on our ability to grow, to serve our mission and to have a profound impact on the world around us.
I want to personally thank all of you for being here tonight.
I want to thank our alumni, donors and friends of the College for your help and support.
And I look forward to working with all of you to move this institution to the next level.
Dear Merrimack College Community,
Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving, traditionally a time when gathering and coming together with family and friends is the norm. However, COVID-19 has changed many things in our lives, with one of them being Thanksgiving and how we celebrate this holiday of thanks. Although we will be altering the way we celebrate, the meaning behind the holiday has not changed – and there continues to be much to be thankful and grateful for.
There is no question that COVID-19 has created many challenges for us this year. Yet, this community came together during what is arguably the most difficult crisis of our lifetime and has done more for one another and more for the greater community than one could imagine. During this time we transformed our institution to give our students the best educational experience possible while protecting the health and wellbeing of our community. From wearing face coverings, to following social distancing guidelines, to meeting and learning through Zoom, we have just completed one of the most successful semesters in my time here as President. I am incredibly grateful to each of you for your courage, dedication and commitment and support for each other. We would not have been able to do all we have done without each of you and your commitment to learning and working through COVID-19.
As we enter the Advent season, beginning on November 29, we will do so with open hearts and minds as this season of great hope prepare us to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ into the world as it is today. In the Catholic Church, the traditional and sacred time of Advent prepares each of us to remember the true meaning of Christmas – the First Coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ, his embodiment as a fully human being, and his ongoing presence among us in the poor and needy, the sick and suffering, the lost and hopeless, and wherever two or more of us gather in his name. This Advent season I invite each of you to step away from the business of life, especially during this time of COVID-19, to commemorate the birth of Jesus, but also to reflect on all that is holy and right in this world. It is easy to be discouraged by the state of the world as it is today, but remembering the immortality of Jesus Christ during this time signifies to each of us the strength and healing that is to come. As our Patron Saint Augustine once said, “God’s promises are given through his Son. Even so, it was not enough for God to send his Son to point out the way – he made his Son the way itself, so that we can go on our journey guided by him as he walks along his own way.”
Finally, the Thanksgiving holiday is not only a time to give thanks, but also a time to support those who may be less fortunate. For those who work selflessly to alleviate the suffering and the challenges of others – especially the medical professionals who are taking care of the health of others every day, even at risk to themselves; those who are working hard to make sure food is reaching those who need it most; the staff of grocery stores across this country who keep supplies stocked so that we can enjoy our holiday meals; and the first-responders who work every day to keep us safe. We are most grateful for you and I thank you for your courageous efforts.
Let us also remember that this is a season of gratitude. The spirit Thanksgiving conveys is always welcome – this year perhaps more than ever.
I wish you and your family a restful and renewing Thanksgiving holiday in preparation for the end of the fall semester and remote finals.
Be safe, Be well, God Bless.
Warriors —this is our time.
Thank you, Commissioner Morris, and thank you, presidents of the Northeast Conference —
Thank you for believing in us, thank you for supporting us, thank you for acknowledging who Merrimack is today. And thank you for inviting us to the Northeast Conference.
After eight years of hard work and discipline and hopes and dreams by everyone in this community — alumni, trustees, faculty, staff, students, parents, coaches, athletes, friars — Commissioner Morris, on behalf of Merrimack College, I accept the invitation, and we are ready to begin competing in the 2019-2020 season.
When I arrived nine years ago, I was given a charge to propel the college academically and athletically to the level where it truly belonged.
It is the obligation and, frankly, the great joy of any president to leave an institution better than he or she found it.
Thirty years ago, Father John Deegan, then president of Merrimack, made the historic decision to move men’s ice hockey into Hockey East and Division I. He believed in the College, and saw the direction where it should go, and he laid the foundation for what we are building today.
The Northeast Conference is where we belong.
Let me be clear: It is not simply an athletic designation. It is a recognition of the kind of school Merrimack is today.
We are being welcomed not just as competitors, but as peers, by institutions that contribute greatly to American higher education, to their communities and to their conference. Institutions that have outstanding national reputations. Institutions that tirelessly pursue excellence. And, yes, institutions that compete well and compete hard.
Merrimack has built a reputation as well. Over our 71 years, we have built a community in which athletics is so important to our cultural life, and a big part of our identity.
We have grown our reputation academically and athletically on parallel tracks — a rare feat and not an easy one — but one this community pursued and embraced.
And now we enter the Northeast Conference, and join Merrimack’s growing reputation to that of the NEC schools. There’s an old saying: Who you associate with matters. It shapes how the world looks at you, and how you view the world.
We could not ask for a better group of institutions to associate with, or better company to be judged by. We believe that the Northeast Conference schools and Merrimack will fit well together, will play hard together, and will rise — together.
To our alumni and fans, in the Merrimack Valley and beyond: You will have a richer, more exciting experience as Northeast Conference schools compete on our campus.
To our coaches and student-athletes: I know you will step up your game and reach greater heights.
And to our entire community: We will take on an even greater sense of pride and accomplishment.
Fellow warriors —
This is our house.
This is our time.
This is who we are.
This is who we will be.
This is Merrimack.
I want to again thank Commissioner Morris, and especially thank Athletic Director Jeremy Gibson and Executive Vice President Jeff Doggett for the work that has brought us here.
Thank you, God bless, and go Warriors!
Trustees, alumni, members of the college leadership council, friends, faculty and staff, and distinguished guests of Merrimack College —
Merrimack is 71 years old this fall, and I don’t know if our community has had a more momentous year than this past twelve months.
On Monday, we announced the college’s move into NCAA Division I athletics —months after watching our men’s lacrosse team earn the Division II National Championship at Gillette Stadium.
We learned that we have become a top-50 school in our U.S. News category, and were also named one of the “most innovative” schools in the northern United States.
This follows Money magazine’s recognition of us as one of the 10 “most transformative” institutions in the country, based on the success we create for our graduates.
Last spring, we graduated our largest-ever senior class in our award-winning new stadium. And this fall, we welcomed our largest-ever freshman class, of more than 1,100 students.
We opened our fifth school — the School of Nursing and Health Sciences — and earned state approval to begin offering nursing degrees.
And we are moments from marking the culmination of the largest capital campaign in Merrimack history, in which thousands of alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the college — including many of you here tonight — have expressed their support for who we are and what we do.
Tonight we have opened and dedicated the Dr. Alfred L. Arcidi Center, honoring one of our earliest alumni and a family that represents three generations of Merrimack education. and tomorrow night, our campus will come together for our annual Block Party, capping the week with fireworks that will be a very public manifestation of the excitement we are all feeling.
When we broke ground for Crowe Hall —the college’s first new academic building in three decades — I observed that Merrimack College was replacing the promise of “we will be” with the reality of “we are” — transforming decades of potential into a present of achievement, and a future of success.
Truly, we have come into our own as an institution and as a community.
These recognitions are not the reasons for our success. They are the results of it.
We are successful because we had a great vision, in our Agenda for Distinction, and worked with discipline and purpose to implement that vision.
We are successful because we have recruited great faculty and staff, nurtured and developed our people, rewarded talent, and invested strategically in academics and facilities — and these decisions brought us greater numbers of students who are excited by the prospects we promise for their future.
We are successful because we did all this by hewing to our Augustinian principles — that we live and learn best when we act as a community; that we are always restless to achieve more and better; that under God we seek, and share, true wisdom.
We are successful because of the support, the vision and the wisdom of those like the families we honor this evening — the Gallants, the Edmundses, and especially the Arcidi family, whose legacy greets everyone who enters the campus of the institution so beloved by their dad.
And we will continue to be successful because we will not rest.
We know the value of hard work, and the rewards for it. We see them very clearly this week.
We will be proud, but never let pride overshadow our mission.
We will celebrate and then turn back to the task before us.
We will do all this, knowing that we are a community.
We are top 50.
We are Division I.
We are transformative.
We are innovative.
We are Merrimack.
I thank you all for everything you do every day for our students and this college. Our future is ever brighter because of you.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Tonight we mark an important moment for Merrimack College. Our investment in you, your teaching and your research sends a message about our rise as an institution, and about Merrimack’s priorities.
In an era when the national trend is to hire more contingent faculty, we have increased our tenured and tenure-track faculty lines. We continue to build for the future — yours, and ours.
This is not an end to your professional path. This is a the beginning of a new one.
So, please join me up here:
Dr. Bryan Bannon.
Brian teaches environmental studies and philosophy in the Department of Philosophy. He is the author of “From Mastery to Mystery,” a work urging us to reconsider how we think about nature.
Dr. Gav Bilev.
Gav teaches comparative and world politics in the Department of Political Science. He has done extensive fieldwork in the former Soviet Union on political structures, and is an affiliate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard.
Dr. James Kaklamanos.
Jim teaches in civil engineering, focusing his research on earthquake prediction and engineering. He was named one of the “top new faces of civil engineering” by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2017, and received its New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.
Dr. Christopher Stuetzle.
Chris teaches in computer science, with a focus on computer graphics, gaming and human-computer interactions. Along with work in his discipline, Chris has collaborated with Gav Bilev to create a computer simulation to explore mechanisms of democratization.
Dr. Zi Yan.
Zi teaches in health science, focusing on health promotion, global health and epidemiology. Her research interests include socio-cultural aspects of health and physical activity.
Please join me in a round of applause for our newly tenured colleagues.