The Caldwell University alumni association presented President Nancy Blattner with its professional excellence Veritas Award on Friday March 27. Alumni, faculty, staff, students and local community leaders gathered on campus to celebrate with Dr. Blattner as she was honored with the award for Excellence in Leadership in Higher Education.
The award presenters were Dr. Blattner’s husband, J. Timothy Blattner, and Sister Kathleen Tuite, O.P., vice president and dean of student life. Mr. Blattner spoke of his wife’s career as an educator prior to coming to Caldwell University, her roles as a devoted mother to their children and in nurturing and mentoring other young people, and her service to those in need, notably through her work with Birthright, a pregnancy resource center.
Sister Kathleen recounted how Dr. Blattner assumed the presidency in 2009 as Caldwell’s first lay president. From the beginning “she understood the role she came to embrace,” said Sister Kathleen. The “Dominican spirit and tradition are in stellar hands”. Those who benefit most from her commitment are Caldwell University students. “Her compassion, inquiry into their lives and genuine desire to see them succeed in their educational goals and give expression to the mission of Caldwell University is palpable,” said Sister.
Dr. Blattner’s accomplishments include leading in record breaking enrollment and repurposing space for improved facilities and dorms, achieving university status , overseeing the implementation of new academic programs and providing “clear strategic direction and planning” as guides “to ensuring a future full of hope,” said Sister.
In accepting the award Dr. Blattner said it was particularly meaningful to her since it recognizes those professionals who carry the Dominican values into their families and communities. She recounted growing up in Cape Girardeau with aging parents who “had no formal education beyond the eighth grade,” and gave her the “three great gifts…the desire for an education, an unparalleled work ethic and the lived example of Catholic values.” She expressed her gratitude to the Sisters, alumni, faculty, staff, students and members of the Caldwell community who have “opened both their homes and their lives” to embrace Tim and her.
To the students she had a special message. “You are the reason why I get up every morning and come to work with a hope-filled heart.”
“I truly believe that each one of you—because of your holistic education at Caldwell—will make a difference in our world –whether it be in your careers, in your communities or in your families,” she said.
The annual award recognizes alumni excellence in all professions. Although Dr. Blattner is not an alumna, the Veritas Award committee chose to grace her with this distinction because of her ongoing commitment to ensuring that the legacy of the Sisters of St. Dominic is sustained through the work of the university.
Awardees are chosen by an independent committee of alumni based on their fulfillment of criteria that reflect the mission of the Sisters of St. Dominic who founded the university.
Caldwell University Chorale, directed by Music Department Professor Laura Greenwald and accompanied by Warren Helms, sang “Inscription of Hope” by Z. Randall Stroope and “Dominican Magnificat” by Feargal King.