The Hart of Campus

Dr. Loring Hart, past president and honorary degree recipient, 2004

Dr. Loring Hart spent eight years as the College’s president guided by one principle: the College matters the most.

Dr. Loring Hart was a leading figure for campus developments that positively affected the social nature and direction of the College.

His easy-going attitude had a great impact here on campus. With a simple handshake in an airport he made the deal to move the operations of the distance education program from Roanoke, Va., onto our campus in Maine – a program now with over 12,000 graduates and a leader in 21st-century higher education.

Dr. Hart garnered major support from regional and national foundations for the College. At New York’s Teagle Foundation, executive director Dick Kimball was so impressed with the lanky Yankee from Maine that his board approved grants to fully staff our small development office, and to introduce both comprehensive strategic planning and integrated marketing to the College.

This thoughtful demeanor translated well into his relationships on campus. Every day at noon he said to his assistant, “Sister Bernadette, it’s time for lunch.” In a small dining room filled with faculty and staff, Dr. Hart participated in lively discussions about politics, the days’ events, the performance of our sports teams, and his hobbies, antiques and collectibles.

English professor Dr. Ed Rielly remembers those lunch conversations with fondness. “Dr. Hart had been an English professor for many years,” says Dr. Rielly. “Many administrators who formerly taught are so involved in current issues that they seldom talk about former students, but the professor in Dr. Hart was still there. I think that it was the professor teaching his students who remained at the core of Dr. Hart. That always impressed me. It still does.”

Dr. Hart’s cordial approach was felt in campus life, too. “He was always interested in our campus activities and programming initiatives,” says Vincent Kloskowski ’95, Assistant Dean of the College. As an active member of the Student Government Association and Class President, Kloskowski was able to work right alongside Dr. Hart. “You could count on Dr. Hart and his wife Marilyn to be present at campus events and liturgies while making sure to genuinely ask how you were doing. It meant a great deal to students to have them take interest in our well-being, which added to the feeling of community on campus.”

David Hallock, an alumnus of Norwich University who is now a trustee of the Fuller Foundation, a regular supporter of the College, credits Dr. Hart with setting him on the right path. “He not only helped me develop a student Awareness Day during the campus unrest of the Vietnam era,” Hallock says, “but gave me the impetus to bring my lackluster GPA up to nearly a 4.0. He demonstrated well-rounded camaraderie by attending my wedding, and provided the Fuller Foundation with a sincere request for scholarships. Education was the cornerstone of his life.”

Sister Mary George O’Toole believes that too many “coincidences” came together around Dr. Hart’s appointment as president to pass him by. “When Dr. Hart’s predecessor was leaving, I consulted with the president of Westbrook College (now University of New England), who recommended that Dr. Hart, who was a retired president of Norwich University in Vermont, could perhaps stay a few months while a search was conducted.

“Saint Joseph’s board chair, Nelson Megna, had lived in Vermont and happened to know Dr. Hart. … Dr. Hart had already demonstrated his skill as a peacemaker and an individual who believed that faculty should be involved in governance,” says Sister O’Toole. “He also respected the Sisters and ensured that they would continue to have a voice. For all these reasons, I was certain that Dr. Hart had come to us by the providence of God Himself.”

On a sunny November day in 2012, a large group of friends and family gathered to celebrate the life of Loring Edward Hart. He was a faithful husband of 60-plus years; a father who read literature to son Matthew and daughter Ellen; a World War II veteran of Patton’s army; a former military college professor, dean and president; a man who delayed retirement to spend eight years at Saint Joseph’s College, calling them “some of the best years of my life.”

Saint Joseph’s College honors the life of Dr. Loring Hart (1924-2012).

by Liz Schran