New Trustee leaders bring steady optimism to mission
Patricia Casey, a veteran higher education enrollment professional, to chair board, alongside two vice-chairs
The new Saint Michael’s Board of Trustees chair is Patricia Casey, a veteran enrollment professional who foresees the College enduring and ultimately thriving anew at the other end of a most challenging period for all higher education brought on by the pandemic and a shrinking pool of college prospects regionally and nationwide.
Changes voted into the Trustees Bylaws on June 5 mean the Board’s leadership now consists of the board chair and two vice chairs at the helm of the College’s 28-member Board of Trustees. Casey is senior education consultant for Maguire Associates, Concord, MA; newly named vice-chairs of the board are veteran members Mark S. Dalton ’72, a retired publishing executive from Londonderry, NH, and Maureen Usifer ’82, a Burlington finance executive who was formerly the CFO of Seventh Generation. New trustees are Burlington-area community leader and scholar Patrick Brown, PhD, M’85; insurance and brewing executive Timothy Ford ’83; and Edmundite Fr Lino Oropeza ’11, while returning as a trustee is former board chair William Gallagher H’19.
Speaking from her well-informed professional insider’s view of higher education, Casey said she has become a strong believer in both the quality of leadership at Saint Michael’s and in the great love and commitment she sees and hears among alumni for the College. That’s why a high priority for her in her new role will be helping alumni understand that now and not later is the time for the significant philanthropy that can keep the College steadily on course through present strains.
Attuned to cautionary alarms in her business, Casey said she has watched an increasing number of less-known or less-stable institutions falter after their alumni were too late in being responsive when financial issues arose – and, though Saint Mike’s is in a stronger position than these typically smaller or less-established colleges, no institution is immune to such concerns over the long-term of five or ten years out, given the times.
Recognizing the need to be pro-active at such a moment, she and President Sterritt in August launched an extensive strategic planning process with subcommittees of faculty, staff and trustees charged with keeping the most pressing of current unprecedented challenges — particularly finances — front and center, while also undertaking necessary longer-view planning.
Enrollment will continue to be crucial to financial health, she said, and that’s where Casey felt that her background would be a good fit for leading the trustees when she was asked to take on that responsibility. Father Marcel Rainville, S.S.E. ’67 had taken the chair role in recent months after professional demands led prior chair Michael Cunniff ’67 to step down in February.
“I have a broad set of reference points from my work and experiences so I felt that’s where I could add value to a place like Saint Mike’s, since it is helpful to have somebody familiar with higher education,” said Casey, who has chaired a board at another educational institution and so is “going into with this job and what it demands with eyes wide open.”
“I’m so confident in and impressed by President Lorraine Sterritt’s leadership and the competence of the people in her cabinet, so that made the decision much easier,” she said. “If I didn’t have that confidence I don’t think I would have pursued this. The times are just too perilous in a lot of ways to take this on as a volunteer board position otherwise.”
Familiar and new faces
Former board chair William Gallagher said the timing felt right for him to rejoin the Trustees now. “I am honored that Saint Michael’s College and especially the Board of Trustees have asked me to return to the Board for another three-year term,” he said. “I have great respect for the Board of Trustees and the stewardship they provide for the College.”
Gallagher said he has often stated that the Board has three primary objectives — namely, to protect and assure the integrity, viability and sustainability of the College. “The Board works hand-in-hand with the leadership of the College, especially the president, who rightfully manage and run the College with the oversight of the Board,” he said.
He offered some historical context and perspective to the present circumstances for the College. “At this time, as in the past 116 years, Saint Michael’s and all institutions of higher learning are facing difficult challenges head-on,” Gallagher said. “The current pandemic, reduction of available student prospects and financial pressure on tuition and fees create structural and strategic challenges that Saint Michael’s will face and address as it has over the past century plus.”
Gallagher said he is “proud to be able to play a small part in this process, under the leadership of the president and board chair. Hopefully my experience in my professional, and personal life, my previous board experience at Saint Mike’s and my commitment to the Catholic faith and Catholic education in particular will serve me and Saint Michael’s well as we move forward.”
Professionally, Gallagher is retired as co-founder and longtime president and CEO of Atlantic Data Services, Inc. in the greater Boston area, and is an Army veteran. The College presented him with an honorary doctorate in 2019. He has served other boards as well as being a devoted supporter of education, particularly Catholic education.
Shared leadership structure
Other Trustees, either new members or in new roles, shared their priorities and backgrounds with the newly configured board:
Maureen Usifer ’82, now a vice-chair, said, “Saint Mike’s has always had a special place in my heart. My husband and my best friends to this day all came from my days at Saint Mike’s. This is one of the reasons I serve on the board. The times ahead are both challenging and exciting. In my roles as Vice Chair and as head of the Operations and Audit committee my primary focus will be on the financial long-term sustainability of the College and keeping the Saint Mike’s experience alive and well for years to come.”
Usifer earned her MBA in finance at Clarkson University in New York state after Saint Michael’s; from 2012-2016 she was chief financial officer at Seventh Generation in Burlington, a producer of sustainable plant-based products, and also was a board adviser for the Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA program at University of Vermont (2015-2016). Since 2016 she has served on the board of Green Mountain Care and since 2018 has been a director for Liberty All-Star Funds. Her current term with the Saint Michael’s Trustees is her second, running through 2021, after joining the board in 2018.
Mark Dalton’72, now vice-chair as well, served on the Saint Michael’s Trustees from 1999 through 2008 and was named Alumnus of the Year in 2012. He worked with the College administration on the Strategic Assessment Task Force (2013) and the Enrollment Task Force (2017), and rejoined the board in fall 2018 before his recent elevation to vice chair. He has had a 43-year career in higher education and research including various executive roles in publishing with Elsevier and earlier with Pearson. He still is active in the industry as an adviser to senior leaders and management teams.
“I was pleased to be asked to rejoin the board, and more recently, to serve as one of our two vice chairs,” Dalton said. “Higher education, one of the world’s great resources, is, as everyone knows, in the midst of unprecedented and difficult change across the globe and, in particular, in the U.S., which presents daunting challenges but, also, exciting opportunities for all colleges and universities including, obviously, Saint Michael’s. I’m looking forward to working with the board, President Sterritt, her leadership team and the faculty, staff and alumni as we navigate our way to a vibrant future for Saint Michael’s.”
Broad fresh perspectives
Active for many years as a partner in programming at Burlington’s Howard Center and a longtime lecturer at the University of Vermont, Patrick Brown M’85 also has been one of the most active members of the greater Burlington community as an advocate and educator on diversity issues and initiatives. He recounted meeting President Sterritt and her husband, Bert, during a Howard Center event in recent years, and the president then inviting him for a meeting at her campus office where they spoke of his potential role advancing important diversity initiatives at the College. Several subsequent recommendations from members of the College and wider communities led to his recent invitation to join the board, “and I was honored,” Brown said.
“One of the things I see as a priority is that we must be ‘all-hands-on-deck’ with recruitment and retention of students on campus — it’s very critical,” Brown said. “I also would say we cannot forget the diversity piece — so recruitment and retention of students in general, but also with an eye to maintaining a diverse campus would be my priorities.”
As a new member and with his strong background in the area, he will serve on the Trustees’ Strategic Planning Committee for Diversity and inclusion. Brown came from his native Jamaica decades ago to study at Concordia University in Montreal, graduating in 1982 before coming to Saint Michael’s for his education master’s. He liked the community so much, he stayed in the area after exploring many other regions that never quite measured up. He has been honored with the Burlington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award and many other awards for his service. He also is deeply involved in the arts and culture scene in Burlington and has been an adjunct lecturer at the University of Vermont in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences since 1999, with past appointments in Education and Arts and Sciences at UVM. A major accomplishment in his life and career was planning and executing the historic visit of Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Vermont in 2005, including Honorary Degrees from Saint Michael’s and UVM.
Fr. Lino Oropeza is accustomed to serving the College already in Campus Ministry and in the Society of Saint Edmund, “but never as member of the board so this is a different opportunity to work for the welfare of the College in these challenging times,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Fr. Oropeza is not coming into the role with specific expectations, but he brings some years of experience on the boards of the Edmundite Southern Missions in Selma, AL, and for Burlington’s Mater Christi Catholic School. “So I have plenty of experience on boards – Mater Christi, the Missions and snow boards!” said Oropeza, a winter sports enthusiast with a sense of humor.
Oropeza grew up in Venezuela and worked in computers and technology before entering seminary and serving several assignments both in Venezuela and later for the Edmundites in the U.S.
Timothy Ford ’83, a Saint Michael’s business administration graduate, has likewise served the College already in many capacities and has experience with other boards. He was presented the 2018 Alumnus of the Year Award, is a member of the College’s “Heritage Circle” of major supporters, is past chairperson of the College’s annual golf tournament and assisted with creation of the Student Veterans Association at Saint Mike’s.
He has served on the boards of Chittenden County Humane Society, The Cancer Wellness Center of New England and The Dante Bogni Scholarship Trust. He splits his time between residences in Colchester and Key West, FL
Professionally, Ford has been president and CEO of Center Street Brewing Company, Wallingford, CT since 2016, and managing director, NFP, South Burlington since 2015. Before that he had a long career in other top executive positions with South Burlington insurance firms.
“These are unprecedented times for higher education,” Ford said, “and I look forward to helping to guide the College forward.”
Saint Michael’s Board of Trustees
Chair of the Board:
Ms. Patricia A. Casey, Senior Education Consultant, Maguire Associates, Concord, Massachusetts
Vice Chairs of the Board:
Mr. Mark S. Dalton ’72, Publishing Executive (retired), Londonderry, New Hampshire
Ms. Maureen Usifer, ’82, CFO (retired), Seventh Generation, Inc., Burlington, Vermont
Rev. Richard N. Berube, S.S.E. ’66, Professor of Religious Studies, Saint Michael’s College, Colchester, Vermont
Dr. José C. Blanco ’79, Co-Founder/Partner, CVF Capital Partners, Inc, Davis, California
Rev. Msgr. Bernard W. Bourgeois, Pastor, Christ the King and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Rutland, Vermont, Pastor, St. Patrick’s Parish, Wallingford, Vermont
Patrick N. Brown, PhD ’85, Executive Director, Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center, Adjunct Lecturer, University of Vermont, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Burlington, Vermont
Sr. Lindora Cabral, RSM, Past President, Northeast Community, Mercy Connections, Burlington, Vermont
Very Rev. David G. Cray SSE ’68, Superior General, Society of St. Edmund
Rev. Raymond J. Doherty, SSE ’51, Campus Minister, Saint Michael’s College, Colchester, Vermont
Mr. Timothy E. Ford ’83, President and CEO, Center Street Brewing Company, Wallingford, Connecticut, Managing Director, NFP Property and Casualty Services, South Burlington, Vermont
Rev. Patrick J. Forman ’85, Pastor, St. Monica Parish, Barre, Vermont
Mr. William H. Gallagher H’19, CEO, Atlantic Data Services, Inc., Braintree, Massachusetts
Mr. Joseph P. Garrity ’78, Chief Operating Officer and Founder, Salem Global Partners, Inc., New York, New York
Bro. Francis J. Hagerty, SSE ’73, Director of Health, Society of St. Edmund, Colchester, Vermont
Mr. George C. Keady, III ’79, Managing Director, Wealth Management, USB Financial Services, Springfield, Massachusetts
Brian G. Lacey ’72, President, Lacey Entertainment, New York, New York
Mr. Anthony J. Maginnis ’80, CEO, Global Packaging, Inc., Oaks, Pennsylvania
Fr. Lino Oropeza, SSE ’11, Campus Minister, Saint Michael’s College, Colchester, Vermont
Dr. Celine R. Paquette, President (retired), Paquette’s Insurance Agency, President, Samuel de Champlain History Center, Champlain, New York
Rev. Marcel R. Rainville, SSE ’67, Campus Minister, Saint Michael’s College, Colchester, Vermont
Sr. Marianne Read, RSM H’99, Northeast Assembly Steering Committee, Sisters of Mercy Northeast, Burlington, Vermont
Mr. Steven J. Renehan ’81, Private Investor, New York, New York
Dr. Tracy A. Romano ’86, Vice President of Research and Chief Scientist, Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Connecticut
Mr. Michael L. Seaver ’81, President, Vermont, People’s United Bank, Burlington, Vermont
Dr. Lorraine Sterritt, President, Saint Michael’s College, Colchester, Vermont
Dr. Robert F. Tobin ’64, President/Surgeon (Retired), Tobin Eye Institute, Inc., St. Joseph, Missouri
Craig E. Duffy ’06, Alumni Association, Past President
Secretary of the Board: Krystyna Davenport Brown
Assistant Secretary of the Board: Jennie M. Clarke
Emeritus Member of the Board: Mr. Gary N. Farrell ’63, H’99