Alumna Draws on College Mission, Family History to Lead Successful Newspaper


In her address to students, trustees and community members on Sept. 8, María Eugenia Ferré Rangel ‘89, president of the family-owned El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico's largest daily newspaper, underscored the importance of serving the greater good — a principle rooted in her family traditions and Holy Cross education. 

Ferré Rangel shared her family history, college memories and path to personal and professional success in the annual Thomas More Lecture on Work, Faith and Civic Life, which honors a graduate of Holy Cross who exemplifies the College’s dedication to the integration of faith and learning. Ferré Rangel is a College trustee and a 2001 recipient of the prestigious Sanctae Crucis award. 

“One of the key thoughts in Thomas More’s writings was that we all have a duty to work for the good of the community,” says Ferré Rangel. “I would add that that duty is present in each path we choose, whether it is public service, religious service or the business world.” 

Ferré Rangel’s grandfather was a businessman, a social reformer and a philanthropist. He founded Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party, was elected governor, and later served as president of the Senate. He also founded the Ponce Museum of Art, housing the Caribbean’s most important art collection. He bought an obscure Ponce newspaper that Ferré Rangel’s father transformed into El Nuevo Dia, the island’s most innovative and leading paper. 

Ferré Rangel continues the tradition with her siblings. They have bucked the trend of waning circulation and credibility in the newspaper industry by diversifying their business holdings, embracing digital and social media, and developing corporate social responsibility initiatives to engage and empower their constituents in Puerto Rico. They introduced Agenda Ciudadanos (Citizens' Agenda) forums and a corresponding website to not only give readers a voice but also build citizenship skills. 

“Back home,” Ferré Rangel explains, “we love to listen to ourselves but we often fail to listen to others. We also tend to lack the tools to find common ground. We hope Agenda Ciudadana can create the space that is needed to truly effect positive change that can enhance the well-being of our population.” 

Another project, El Nuevo Dia Educador, distributes newspapers in schools and reaches 86 percent of schools in Puerto Rico with a daily student readership of 500,000. The program also awards college scholarships to students selected for their community service in addition to their academic success. Today, El Nuevo Dia is the largest Hispanic newspaper in the U.S. and one of the top 35 newspapers in the nation. As of December 2010, El Nuevo Día ranked third in the U.S. in terms of Facebook fans, after the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.  Since then, its fans have increased by 30 percent to 246,000.  The newspaper’s Twitter followers number 77,442. 

Ferré Rangel, who met several Holy Cross students from Puerto Rico prior to the talk, advised them to work hard and surround themselves with good people to overcome any challenges of ethnic diversity and gender stereotyping. She stressed balance, life-long learning, empathy, excellence, passion and serving others as keys to a full and successful life.

The Thomas More Lecture on Faith, Work and Civic Life is presented by the Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture.

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