Rainville to chair Saint Michael’s Board of Trustees

Edmundite priest and 1967 graduate has been Vice-Chair; Cunniff stepping away due to business demands

February 12, 2020
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

Rev. Marcel Rainville, S.S.E. ’67 will become the new Chair of the Saint Michael’s College Board of Trustees effective February 14, following a decision by the present Chair Michael Cunniff ’67 to leave the board and its leadership because of the demands of his business.

Father Marcel Rainville

Father Marcel Rainville, S.S.E. ’67 will be the new Chair of the Saint Michael’s College Board of Trustees. (photo by Lynn Monty ’07)

College Trustee Joseph Garrity, himself a former Board chair, announced the change in a letter to the College community on Wednesday, February 12. 2020. Fr. Rainville has been serving as Vice-Chair of the Board.

Said Father Rainville: “While I regret that I will no longer work as closely with Michael on the Board, I thank him deeply for the great work he has done. I look forward to continuing to work with President Sterritt and the Board on the challenges and opportunities ahead. Please join me in thanking Michael for his tremendous service to the College and for his willingness to continue working with the offices of Institutional Advancement and Admission.”

Campus community members speak with great respect and affection about the new Trustees Chair. “This Edmundite’s heart has always centered on furthering the understanding of the College’s history, mission, best hopes and direction,” said Lynn Monty ’07, the Society of St. Edmund publicist. Among his campus duties, Fr. Rainville leads the popular Pontigny Society, an Edmundite Campus Ministry program that provides an opportunity for Saint Michael’s College faculty and staff to gather with an intention to enrich the Catholic character of the College by learning about Christian, Catholic and Edmundite intellectual traditions.

Raised on a Franklin County dairy farm with nine siblings, he was ordained in 1971 and spent 20 years ministering in Venezuela. Fr. Rainville says the religious life is a tremendous adventure. “There’s a lot you don’t see in this way of life and in this community that is exciting,” Father Marcel said of his vocation. “It’s more rewarding than I ever expected it to be.”

Fluent in French as well as Spanish, Fr. Rainville has led several Edmundite Heritage trips to France for alumni, faculty and staff including in recent years. Monty said  “Father Marcel” is well-loved by one and all for his appealingly humble and often playful personality, “whether on campus, at LEAP retreats up at St. Anne’s Shrine, or while leading trips to France for seekers wanting to know more about College founders, The Society of Saint Edmund.” He also is an avid golfer and enjoys deer hunting.

Gratitude to Michael Cunniff

Joseph Garrity said Michael Cunniff “has been a devoted member of the Board of Trustees for five years, and for over 50 years has played a very active role in advancing the mission of the College.” In addition to his Board service, Cunniff has served on the search committees for the VP for Institutional Advancement and the VP for Enrollment and Marketing.

Though Cunniff no longer will serve on the Board of Trustees, Garrity said, “We are thrilled that Michael will continue his very active engagement with the College by assisting with Institutional Advancement and Admission.”

Cunniff explained his decision in a communication to Garrity and fellow trustees:  “Due to personal and professional obligations, I will not be able to provide the necessary time commitment to effectively fulfill the duties of Board Chair of my beloved alma mater,” he wrote.” I am fully supportive of the Board, President Sterritt and her administration, as well as our faculty, staff, and students, and I look forward to continuing to support and advance the mission of Saint Michael’s College.”

President Sterritt expressed her deep admiration and gratitude for Cunniff’s 50-plus years of active service to the College. “Michael is a delight to work with,” President Sterritt said. “Whether carrying first‐year students’ refrigerators to the fourth floor of the residence halls on move‐in day or chairing a meeting of the Board of Trustees, he is in it heart and soul. He is an absolute trouper for Saint Michael’s, always has been and always will be.”

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