Good afternoon and welcome to the 74th academic year at Stonehill College.  

To the Class of 2026 – We are all so happy to welcome you this day.  

And to our seniors – the Class of 2023 – we look forward to the many ways you will lead this community in the days ahead.  

To our new members of the faculty and staff, it has been wonderful to meet so many of you as we work together to strengthen this academic community and the College’s mission.  

The start of the school year is a unique moment for all of us. A time that speaks of newness and opportunity, when faculty, staff, and students reconnect. Where first-year students discover all the ways to engage on campus, and our senior class celebrates their joyful achievements and prepares for life beyond Stonehill.  

The shovel that Senior Class President Emily Hartford graciously presented to me is a reflection of that intention of the Class of 2023 and all of us to be authentic and genuine. As we dig into this fall semester, it is my hope that we use the tools available to us to explore and imagine all that is possible and create positive change.   

I also wish to share my congratulations to Professor Tracy Rosebrock for being honored as this year’s Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching. She truly demonstrates and embodies a commitment to ensure her students’ success both in the classroom and beyond. She is a credit to this college. We are so grateful to her.  

The college experience is a joyous time as Professor Pamela Lombardi shared in her remarks. I am grateful for her counsel to all of us to find joy in moments big and small each day. Let us try not to compare our progress and journey to that of others which can rob us of our joyous achievements. And let’s celebrate the joy of those around us.  

Professor Lombardi’s remarks reminded me of a noted author, theologian, and Presbyterian minister, Frederick Buechner, who died earlier this month. Reverend Buechner wrote of joy:  

“…joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances, even in the midst of suffering, with tears in its eyes…anyone who is truly joyous has a right to say that he is doing God's will on this earth. Where you have known joy, you have known God.”   

As you chart your own course this year, my hope is that the new experiences, challenges, and opportunities that this campus offers will ignite within you sustaining joy, zeal, and purpose this day and beyond.   

May Mary, Queen of the Summit, guide you with her love in your studies, your work, and your research. And May God bless you in all your endeavors this year.  

Thanks so much, and have a great year.