Maintaining a Community
It is that time of year in Vermont where the maple sap flows. Unpaved roads typify much of this rural state, but they are best not driven on in March. For a people steeped in a salvific tradition, mud season is the weather equivalent of purgatory-we are almost there!
This is also the time when families and especially high school seniors await the judgment of admission counselors. For many, this will be the first time that a stark binary decision will be conveyed to them, the thick, or dreaded thin, envelope. Although increasingly the decision will now be conveyed electronically this hardly lessens the angst. Fortunately for Saint Michael's, we have had the same steady hand on the admission tiller for two score - Jerry Flanagan's hand. There are few at this College, even few alums, who recall another Admission Director, attested to by the fact that Jerry has signed acceptance letters to over 80 percent of all the individuals who have ever attended Saint Michael's. And to each letter he penned a congratulatory note, one he seemingly remembers for decades.
You will read more about Jerry in these pages, but one thing that is not easily conveyed is the sense of change that a community must come to terms with when a long-serving leader changes horses. Through all the vagaries of college admission over the years Jerry has been our person, the one who understood what families were
Fortunately for Saint Michael's, we have had the same steady hand on the admission tiller for two score - Jerry Flanagan's hand.
experiencing, who could always lend an encouraging word, who would work tirelessly for each applicant. He was the perfect matchmaker for this College and now we are going to have to learn another's touch. We are grateful to Jerry for so much, but not the least is his utter devotion to the College and all its members, from the newest first-year student to the chair of the board of trustees. And while he will move on to another assignment at the College the Hoehl Welcome Center will never quite be the same.
It's a difficult time for applicants and their families too, with the slowly recovering economy restricting financial flexibility and pundits continuing to question the value of a liberal education. We continue to believe that the individual attention a small liberal arts college can provide, particularly in the personal connections between faculty members and young adults that are expected, not exceptional, provides the best setting for personal growth. Add a very real opportunity for spiritual growth and the sensitivity to others that a residential experience can foster and we present a model of higher education that is different from others. As Stan Hales once said, "(a liberal arts education is about...) preparing students for their last job which is likely to be far more complicated and demanding than the first".
In addition to a more fulsome description of Jerry Flanagan's time here, these pages provide two excellent examples of how campus responds to larger needs and how friendships formed on campus have a remarkable ability to maintain a community over decades.