Jerry Flanagan ’71
After starting at St. Mike’s as a student in 1967, I majored in political science, graduated in 1971 and came to work here in 1973 once I’d completed a nearby graduate program in higher education. So I was assistant dean of students by age 24 and soon after I was invited by President Ed Henry to lead admissions. Now I’m a Senior Philanthropic Advisor in Saint Michael’s Institutional Advancement department.
When I began looking at colleges as a high school senior in Attleboro, MA, my guidance counselor, a nun, gave me a list of schools to send to for catalogs and one was Saint Michael’s. Admissions were a lot different then. My senior year of college I met my wife, Judy, who was at Trinity. In those days I also was captain on the club football team and later I coached football here. I still invite a group of my classmates, many from our old team, to Colchester for an annual ritual: We take in a basketball game and socialize for a weekend and it’s always a great time.
I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to stay in a place that’s really a part of who I am. I’ve looked at other opportunities through the years but it always came down to asking, “Do I believe in the mission of this place, can I be as passionate about what they’re doing as I am here?” Because it would be hard to do this work if I didn’t feel the way that I do about Saint Michael’s. I think what has really kept me here is just the privilege to be a member of this community. I love the people I work with.
Several of my admissions initiatives are now signature Saint Michael’s programs, I’m happy to say, including the Book Award and Nominate a Knight programs. I’ve also had leadership roles with regional and national associations for admissions professionals, and I’ve probably visited every high school in New England. We just had a handful of people in this office when I started but as the landscape has become more competitive we’ve added to the team and had a great core group through the years. I plan to help out with fund-raising for the college in January of 2014.
I have two favorite days of the year in my job – first, when new students arrive and I greet them and they’re nervous – so are the parents – but I can reassure them. And then graduation day, when I try to sit in the front row and watch the students go by and see the success they’ve had – invariably there’s a few I took a chance on with special considerations, and they didn’t let me down – so I can share vicariously just a little bit of the pride that their parents have as they watch their son or daughter graduate. To me, that’s the greatest thing you can do – just watch them and say, “Way to go.”
I’ve developed and maintained close personal friendships with the Edmundite priests at St. Mike’s, and they’ve been an important part of my family’s life. For me, it’s always been family first, and I consider the college to be part of my family. That’s actually literally true since my younger brother and sister followed me to Saint Michael’s, and four of my five children are alumni! To watch the wonderful experience my youngest daughter just had here was tremendous. It made me proud to be a member of this community and an alumnus, and convinced me this is a place worth sustaining and growing.