Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 22, 2014 – Caldwell University celebrated its 75th anniversary with community and education leaders, alumni, friends, donors and the campus community at an academic convocation and Mass on Sept. 19, and Homecoming and Family Day on Sept. 20.
In her remarks at the convocation, President Nancy Blattner, Ph.D., paid tribute to foundress Mother Joseph Dunn, “who worked tirelessly … to implement her vision to provide young women of simple means with an opportunity for a Catholic college education.” And then for six more decades that leadership continued with the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, who worked “to ensure that the legacy that Mother Dunn created” would continue and thrive, said Dr. Blattner. Caldwell owes special appreciation to the Sisters, “for it was from the fruits of their missionary labors and their love that Caldwell College was born and flourished,” she said.
“Now, as we celebrate our 75th anniversary, Caldwell University through our Catholic identity, our Dominican heritage and our liberal arts foundation pledges to continue the legacy of the Sisters of St. Dominic in the years and decades to come,” said Dr. Blattner.
President Blattner presented Sister Arlene Antczak, O.P., prioress of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell with an oil painting of St. Dominic. Sister Arlene called Caldwell University “a sacred place … a tribute to the Dominican Order and also to the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell.” Caldwell University, she said, has a “powerful past, purposeful present and promising future.”
Among the other attendees was Rochelle Hendricks, secretary of higher education for the state of New Jersey, who said she was delighted to share in the “truly momentous and moving occasion.”
“This is a place where values matter and preparation for leadership and service to the community, nation, world is as important as career preparation,” said Hendricks.
Chair of the Board of Trustees Nancy Costello-Miller said she “could not be more proud to be an alumna.” The core values of respect, integrity, excellence and community were present when she was a student and guide the institution today, she said.
The keynote remarks were given by Father Paul Murray, O.P., an Irish Dominican priest and poet who is professor of spiritual theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum. Pointing out that Caldwell’s motto contains the words scientia (knowledge) and sapientia (wisdom), he said, “All the information in the world will never add up to that illumined knowledge, both simple and profound, which we call wisdom.”
He spoke of the “adventure of education” that was encouraged by the 12th-century author and Irish mystic and theologian Richard of St. Victor who said, “Learn everything. Afterwards you will discover that nothing has been wasted. A narrow science is no fun.”
“The best student in the class is not necessarily the one who gets the highest marks,” said Father Murray. “The best student is the one who is the most alive and the most aware of all that is happening around her or around him, the student most open to knowledge and wisdom in all its forms.”
Sister Elizabeth Michael Boyle, O.P., read the poem “Anniversary Perspectives,” which she had written for the 75th.
Other speakers included Mary Sellitto-Curcio, president of the Alumni Association; Marie Mullaney, Ph.D., professor of history and political science, representing faculty; Ian White, university registrar, representing staff, and Kathleen Flynn ’15, student government president. The grand marshal was Mary Ann Miller, Ph.D., professor of English. The mistress of ceremonies was Nancy Becker, Ed.D., interim vice president for academic affairs. The benediction was read by student Koumudi Thirunagaru. Music was provided by the Caldwell University Wind Ensemble with the recessional “River of Life” by Steven Reineke and the ensemble. Chaplain Father Al Berner gave the invocation. St. Isaac Jogues Assembly Color Corps, fourth-degree Knights of Columbus, led the processional.
Students Kaitlyn Kazalunas, Sean Puzzo, Shyam Sharma and Romas Tamrakar were thrilled to witness the historic celebration. “Powerful, phenomenal campus spirit,” said Tamrakar, who pointed out that students were wearing T-shirts that said “75 years strong.” “It was an awesome thing to be a part of,” said Puzzo. It gave me “goose bumps,” said Sharma. “Warm, emotional. Can’t wait to come back in 25 years,” said Kazalunas.
The university was presented a New Jersey Assembly resolution from Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin and other members for the anniversary. New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen sent a letter of congratulations with the flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol by his request in honor of the 75th anniversary.
On Saturday Dr. Blattner was given the key to the city by Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing, an alumna of Caldwell.
Other weekend activities included the President’s State of the University Address, Alumni awards, a carnival and barbecue, faculty lectures, the Golden Anniversary Tea, a Veritas lecture featuring the Sisters of St. Dominic, a faculty favorites concert, a bonfire, and a Mass celebrated by the Most Rev. John W. Flesey, S.T.D., D.D., regional bishop for Bergen County and concelebrated by Father Bob Stagg, who served as Caldwell’s chaplain for many years and Caldwell’s Chaplain Father Al Berner.
On Sept. 19, Father Murray gave a campus lecture on his recent book “Scars: Essays, Poems and Meditations on Affliction”.
The long weekend was also a chance for many to celebrate Caldwell’s new university status as the institution officially began operating as a university July 1.