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  Features
     
   

The Reedy Years 

By Katharine Buckley McNamara '81

Rev. Gerard Reedy, S.J.

On July 1, 1994, Rev. Gerard Reedy, S.J., became the  
30th president of Holy Cross, serving until this past July,  
when he resigned for reasons of health.

Soon after taking office at Holy Cross, Fr. Reedy launched a five-point program to ensure the College's continued status as the nation's outstanding Catholic liberal arts college. The program involved: 

  • a $5 million initiative to strengthen teaching and communication via computer networks and information technologies;
  • an implementation of the College's governance process;
  • a strengthening of both revenue and non-revenue sports programs;
  • a commitment toward increasing the diversity of the College's administration, faculty and student body;
  • and a 10-year academic plan, including plans for a national center for Catholic undergraduate life.
In four short years Fr. Reedy's vision began to bear results. 
 
Information Technology 
Holy Cross has moved into the first ranks of the nation's colleges and universities in our educational technology infrastructure and utilization. All of our 28 buildings are wired and all faculty offices and residence rooms are networked (including over 2,500 computers). Holy Cross now has the infrastructure in place to revolutionize the operation of every corner of the campus. For the past two years, Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine has ranked the College among the most wired campuses in the nation and, CAUSE, the leading association for information technology professionals, awarded Holy Cross the Excellence in Campus Networking Award. 

Faculty Governance 
In 1994, Fr. Reedy inherited a newly reformed faculty governance structure, based on the principle of shared responsibility. Professor Theresa McBride was Speaker of the Faculty in this structure. 
" Fr. Reedy's experience as a faculty member and dean at Fordham gave him an appreciation for what faculty do - not just teaching and service to the College and its students, but also the scholarship essential to effective teaching. He was a good listener and was comfortable with a governance system that was faculty-directed," says McBride. 
" Fr. Reedy also enjoyed celebrating faculty achievements. He created the yearly convocations at which the distinguished Holy Cross professor is honored and faculty are recognized for 25 years of service to the College." 

Athletics  
Fr. Reedy directed the strengthening of non-revenue sports and the resumption of basketball scholarships (commencing this fall) for men and women. The decision followed an in-depth, one year review by the College's trustees of the proper relationship of Holy Cross athletics to admissions, development and student life (including academics) programs. 
" These principles and policies, formed and forwarded in a spirit of moderation, will continue our Holy Cross tradition of locating athletics within the pursuit of academic excellence. The personal formation sponsored by athletics is only one part, and not the major part, of the entire intellectual, moral, and religious formation that is Holy Cross. These policies and principles ground our athletic activity for the next decade," Fr. Reedy emphasized. 

Diversity  
Fr. Reedy declared early in his presidency that he wanted to see the diversity of the student body double in the next 10 years. 
"His commitment to increasing diversity among both the faculty and student body was unwavering," says Admissions Director Ann McDermott '79. "Fr. Reedy encouraged all members of the Holy Cross community - students, administrators, faculty and alumni - to work together to improve the representation of diverse populations on campus." 
The statistics illustrate steady progress in this area. Students of color make up 12 percent of the class of 2002. The class of 2001 had 8 percent of its students in this category. The number of people of color among the faculty, nearly doubled in the four years of the Reedy administration. 
" Initially change was slow, but with commitment and continued hard work, progress has been made," notes McDermott. 

Strength in Admissions  
In 1997, Holy Cross entered the ranks of a select group of the nation's 50 "most competitive" institutions of higher learning in Barron's Profiles of American Colleges. 
This past year applications for enrollment increased by 4 percent, and fewer than half of all applicants (47 percent) were accepted. The incoming first-year class (Class of 2002) has an average combined SAT score of 1252, and a median high school rank in the 92nd percentile. 

Student Affairs  
Fr. Reedy hired Jacqueline Dansler Peterson, the first woman and first African American to serve as a vice president at Holy Cross. During 1997-98, she led a complete reorganization of student life offerings. New programs and structures have expanded students' outside-the-classroom opportunities for learning, leadership and service. 
A summer orientation was offered for the first time to incoming students to help ease the transition from home and high school to campus and college. Rather than wait until August to offer new students an orientation experience, Student Affairs invited the Class of 2002 and their parents to one of three day-and-a-half sessions offered in June. 

Academic Planning 
In February 1997, Fr. Reedy presented an address on academic planning to the faculty governance councils in which he issued a call to begin an initiative that would answer the question: "Where do we want to be, in academic terms, ten years from now?" 
This initiative contained within it the challenge not only of charting the academic future of the College but of putting the faculty governance structure to work on a comprehensive project; contributing to the formulation of a case statement for the College's next capital campaign; preparing for the reaccreditation process in the year 2000; and of delving more deeply into the College's mission statement to further realize its considerable substance. 
"Fr. Reedy was dedicated to preserving areas of traditional strength at Holy Cross while encouraging changes that would enhance its educational mission as a liberal arts college committed to academic excellence and rooted in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition," says Stephen Ainlay, dean of the College. "He believed that the College occupied a distinct niche in higher education and challenged all of us to find ways of living up to the obligations that necessarily accompany our distinctiveness and our mission." 
The academic planning process, launched by Fr. Reedy, continued throughout the 1997-98 academic year. The process is expected to reach a conclusion in early 1999. 

Fund Raising 
In the area of voluntary support of the College, Holy Cross remains among a select few schools nationwide that can proudly point to alumni participation rates of 50 percent or higher. This past year has seen previous records of giving broken in nearly all categories. 
Total voluntary support grew to $19 million, far surpassing the previous record of $14.2 million set in 1994, the last year of the Campaign for Holy Cross. 
The College received, for the first time in one year, five gifts in the seven-figure range, one of which was the largest single gift in our history - a $5 million charitable remainder trust from Cornelius B. Prior '56. 
" The tremendous generosity [of alumni] serves as a strong testimonial to Fr. Reedy's leadership and to all that he accomplished during his tenure as president," says acting President Frank Vellaccio. 

Financial Strength  
In the area of fiscal health, the College once again finished in the black with a surplus in 1997-98. The endowment grew 18 percent, from $265 million to $314 million. 
 

***** 

Finally, Fr. Reedy's foremost concern was always with the students. Not only did he live in a residence hall (and has for most of his priestly life), but he met regularly with student leaders, dined with students and found time to team-teach a class during the fall of 1997. "Moral Weakness," an honors program seminar, was a collaboration between English Professor Reedy and religious studies Assistant Professor Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J. 

"Jerry Reedy is a gifted, generous and enthusiastic teacher. I was amazed at the amount of time he was able to give to the students and to preparation, with the heavy demands of his schedule," says Fr. Linnane. "I also found him to be a very supportive senior colleague; I know that my own teaching has benefited from working with him." 
When the semester ended, the two professors met to review the students' evaluations of the seminar and found that students assessed the course as challenging and helpful in getting them to think about a number of ethical and theological issues in new ways.  "It became clear to me that the success of this course was particularly gratifying for Jerry because it reflected what I take to be one of the central goals of his presidency: that the educational experience at Holy Cross be one that is ever more intellectually rigorous and, at the same time, broadly Catholic," concluded Fr. Linnane.

 

Sidebars:


“ Your tenure as President has seen a continued improvement in the reputation of the College. You have sustained and increased academic quality, raised the number and quality of applications, maintained high standards for our students, implemented a new governance structure, substantially overhauled the athletic policy, presided over a nearly 100% increase in our endowment and concomitant improvement in our financial position, and fostered increased diversity of the faculty and students. In short, Holy Cross is well positioned for the future, and the Board certainly recognizes your significant contributions.”

H.E. (Jack) Lentz ’67, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, from his letter accepting Fr. Reedy’s resignation 

 

“…one of the central goals of his presidency: that the educational experience at Holy Cross be one that is ever more intellectually rigorous and, at the same time, broadly Catholic.”

Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J.

 

“Fr. Reedy encouraged all members of the Holy Cross community – students, administrators, faculty and alumni – to work together to improve the representation of diverse populations on campus.”

Ann McDermott ’79, director of admissions

 

“The tremendous generosity [of alumni] serves as a strong testimonial to Fr. Reedy’s leadership and to all that he accomplished during his tenure as president.”

Acting President Frank Vellaccio

 

The Search for a New President

The College’s Trustees named the following to serve as members of the search committee for a new Jesuit president:

P. Kevin Condron ’67, Chair
H.E. (Jack) Lentz ’67
Constance A. Eagan ’81
Charles E.F. Millard ’54
John P. Hamill ’61
(all of the above are Trustees)

Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., ’49
President Emeritus
John B. Anderson ’57
Associate Professor, History
Joanne Pierce
Associate Professor, Religious Studies

You may send your suggestions to the Committee in care of the President’s Office, Holy Cross, One College Street, Worcester, MA 01610

 

 

 

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