Durick Library display highlights College’s major milestones
Panels near entrance show and tell stories of pioneer contributors to the diversity of the Saint Michael's campus community through history; Elizabeth Scott of library staff, researcher and creator, says she is open to ideas on rotating in future profiles
A new display in Saint Michael’s College’s Durick Library created by the longtime archivist Elizabeth Scott describes and celebrates “the trailblazers of Saint Michael’s College and their diverse identities.”
Library and Information Services Director Laura Crain said the display, located directly to the left upon entering the library through the main front doors, consists of images and information on panels within a glass case. “The goals of the exhibit are to showcase the rich materials found in the College and Society of Saint Edmund Archives, and to connect students with primary source materials and historical research,” Crain said.
The display’s 18 panels tell the stories of Saint Michael’s individuals who reflect and/or contributed to diversity at the institution. These individuals date back as early as 1911 with images and words about Julian Miller, the first BIPOC individual to receive a Saint Michael’s bachelor’s degree.
The native of Philadelphia, PA, was a multisport athlete. The display shows a photograph of the 1911 football team and another of a Saint Michael’s reunion in the 1950’s.
The display also highlights members of the community such as Elsa Kiel Sichel, who was the first female faculty member. As a wartime replacement, she taught biology from 1942-1943. However, as was common in that era, the college replaced her with a man once they started returning home from the service. Sichel’s story leads straight to Alice Thayer, who began teaching in the English Language program in 1954 and was the first woman hired to teach on campus after World War II.
The display also features more recent community members. One is Carey Kaplan, who was the first “out” LGBT faculty member on campus. She came out to her colleagues in the late 1980s. Since retiring in 2018, Kaplan is professor emerita in the English Department.
Another panel tells about the College’s current president, Lorraine Sterritt, since she was the first woman president of Saint Michael’s College.
“We felt it was important to share with students snapshots of the people throughout the history of Saint Michael’s who were the first women, BIPOC, and out LGBTQIA+ employees and students in various roles and who paved the way for others and who have contributed to the diversity of the College,” said Crain.
Elizabeth Scott, researcher and creator of the exhibit, is Durick’s associate director for technical services and special collections and served as the College’s longtime archivist before assuming her additional roles as well. While the exhibit is permanent, the goal is to have panels rotate to emphasize Saint Mike’s history.
Crain and Scott said the display does not intend to encompass all Saint Michael’s “firsts,” but just to highlight some interesting major milestones. Scott said she would be open to rotating in some stories of other important Saint Michael’s figures through history if members of the community bring her suggestions.