This past Saturday, members of the Saint Joseph's community gathered in South Portland for our Centennial Gala. It was a wonderful evening, filled with good spirits, warm memories, and well-deserved pride in our College.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation by Sister Mary George O'Toole on the College's first hundred years. Challenged by the task of covering so much ground in a limited amount of time, Sister Mary George chose to focus on what she identified as five "turning points" in the College's history: (1) the beginning of college-level instruction in 1912; (2) the decision to change the College's name the 1940s to raise its profile; (3) the move of the College to Sebago Lake in the 1950s; (4) the decision to become co-educational in the 1970s; and (5) later that same decade, the beginning of "distance education."
Each of these five turning points was marked by "courage and hope," which really only need to be present in the face of a future whose outlines are not entirely clear. At each of these turning points, the future in question was that of a smaller, Catholic, liberal arts, and Mercy school in Maine.
We are at yet another "turning point," but this time the stakes are much larger and involve the whole higher education community.
The twists and turns of the first hundred years of our journey have prepared us wonderfully to engage the important questions and issues of our time as we decide together about the way ahead. As Saint Joseph's College moves into its exciting second century, we derive an enormous amount of energy from those who have gone before us motivated by courage and hope.