The Year in Review: 2015-2016

By Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.

The windows of my office provide a view of the quad below Fenwick, bound by Carlin, Alumni and Kimball Halls, and, beyond, the city of Worcester. One of the pleasures of living in New England is the ever-changing scenery visible from those windows, as season follows season. The view is pleasant, but it also grounds me in the rhythms of nature, and reminds me of the passage of time. I have come to cherish that Holy Cross is, at once, both rooted in history and tradition, and, at the same time, dedicated to growth, to evolution, to becoming more. How we, as a community, hold on to the former while we engage the latter is one of the creative challenges that faces me daily.

The past year has been an eventful and memorable one, a time in which we have celebrated our Jesuit mission, while simultaneously looking forward to the future needs of our students and the Holy Cross community. My own sense is that we have entered into a defining moment in the history of the College. The values and the vision inherent in the history and mission of Holy Cross and embodied in our alumni offer discernment, empathy, wisdom and compassion to a fragile world that has been demoralized by superficiality, self-centeredness and violence.

St. Ignatius Loyola famously instructed his companions to “go forth and set the world on fire.”  Almost half a millennium later, this remains our calling. As individuals, and together as a community, the people of Holy Cross are called to light the fire of lifelong learning, of ethical insight and of responsible stewardship. This fire has many sources—our students, our alumni, the extended family and friends who make up this remarkable community. Each constituency, in its own way and using its unique talents, has contributed to the successes of the past year. I especially want to acknowledge our outstanding teachers and scholars of inspiring talent and dedication. In the last academic year, the nearly 300 members of the Holy Cross faculty produced more than 330 pieces of professional work—27 books, 10 abstracts, eight dictionary and encyclopedia entries and essays, 184 articles, 18 chapters of books, 22 productions and exhibitions, seven grants and 56 reviews. These numbers speak volumes about the industry and enthusiasm of our extraordinary faculty for their academic pursuits. In addition, nine faculty members were awarded Batchelor Ford Fellowships, and four faculty members have been selected to receive O’Leary Faculty Recognition Awards.

The professional achievements of our faculty inspire our students to be creative, take advantage of interesting opportunities and explore their interests, wherever they may lead. This fall, seven of our students will be participating in a semester program in New York City for the first time. This program is modeled on our successful Washington Semester Program. The New York Program is the latest in a series of initiatives that offer our students the opportunity to use the knowledge they are gaining in our classrooms, studios and laboratories in a new context. These mentored, independent opportunities give our students the direct experience of linking theory and practice.

Our position as one of the nation’s finest exclusively undergraduate liberal arts colleges was once again noted by multiple sources, including The Princeton Review, Forbes, Money, Payscale and College Factual. Clearly, it is our dedicated and talented faculty that have helped us achieve such prominence.

We have witnessed the beginning of the transformation of our campus, as our initial building projects start to take shape. I am particularly pleased and moved by the opening of the Thomas P. Joyce ’59 Contemplative Center. This new facility speaks to the heart of who we are and what we do. The Center will be a sanctuary for years to come, offering a peaceful space for reflection, where the soul can be renewed. In this beautiful new setting, the College’s longstanding tradition of life-changing retreats will continue to grow and to help shape the spiritual lives of generations of future Crusaders.

The expansion and renovation of the Hart Center at the Luth Athletic Complex has steadily progressed over the last year. Each time I visit the construction site and watch work on the Complex progress, I think of the excitement and spirit we experienced this past March, when our men’s basketball team won its first NCAA Tournament game since 1953. The passion of Holy Cross fans was contagious, spreading from campus to social media to the national press.

Another way in which this sense of pride was evident over the past year was in the philanthropic records we broke as an institution. The College attracted national attention over Winter Homecoming weekend, when our “Give Purple” micro-challenge shattered previously held records. In just 43 hours, more than 6,200 donors contributed $1.94 million to Holy Cross. This was a fine example of the passion, loyalty and generosity of the community. The momentum created by “Give Purple” continued through the spring and resulted in a record year in total giving to the College, with $46.7 million raised.

Clearly our alums believe in the Holy Cross mission and our vision of the future. We have always been a community of “rebellious optimists,” and this past year, we demonstrated how invested we are in what we do and in our belief that our work, our vision and our unique way of preparing leaders can change the world and create a bright and just future.

I remain excited as I look at the year—and the years—ahead of us. In the months to come, you will be hearing about ideas and initiatives that are bold and innovative. We are continuing to make progress on the plans for an arts center, which we imagine as a hub of creativity for the entire campus community. This high-tech facility, designed by renowned architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will bring the College into a new era of inspiration, in which we will develop classes, curriculums, research opportunities, laboratories and technical programs all dedicated to new visions of teaching and learning, grounded in the ethical and reflective traditions of our Jesuit heritage—a synthesis of the best of the past and the future that will define us as a model for educational excellence in the 21st century.

The 2015-2016 academic year was a time of vitality and steady, abundant success. As we embark upon a new and exciting year on Mount St. James, I wish to thank the entire Holy Cross community for the support, the passion and the abiding commitment to both our tradition and our dreams for the future.  ■

See next page for the Highlights of 2015-2016.