Marcy Vandale '87
Twenty years ago the General Alumni Association
began sponsoring a day of continuing education for alumni.
event has been organized for its entire run by the father/son
team of Richard E. Onofrey '55 and Richard E. Onofrey,
Jr. '87, but both are quick to give credit for the
day's success and endurance to Holy Cross' administration
Reflecting on the program's genesis, Onofrey, Sr.
explains that the GAA wanted to attract alumni to the
College for something other than a sporting event. The
Classroom Revisited was structured to be a full
day in the spring, a time when the beauty of the campus
is at its peak. Presenting a current view of the Holy
Cross curriculum seemed to fit perfectly with the missions
of both the GAA and the College. The event is exciting, says
Onofrey Sr. It is like stepping from the past to
the present to see what is going on in the classroom at
In organizing the program, both father and son say that
working with the academic deans and faculty has been especially
rewarding. For the past several years, Mary Morton, associate
dean, and Tina Chen, director of academic services and
learning resources, have been instrumental in shaping
the class offerings. Working with the Continuing Education
Day Committee, Morton and Chen identify professors who
have received awards or grants, are doing special projects,
or whose specialties focus on current events. Once enlisted,
faculty prepare the class syllabus and even offer homework for
the ambitious students.
Chen speaks enthusiastically of the experience. The
professors enjoy sharing their research and current classes
with the alumni, many of whom are former students, she
says. The event is all part of the GAA's effort
to reconnect alumni to the classroom and share the current
academic excellence. Professors typically participate twice
in a 10-year period although there are a few exceptions. Any
time an event runs this long it is impressive. But this really
shows Holy Cross' commitment to a lifelong learning experience.
A day in the life of the alumni student begins
with a welcoming reception. Students have preregistered
for three classes, choosing from nine electives. A minimal tuition charge
is required, but the GAA and College largely underwrite the
day. The first class is followed by lunch, with classes resuming
promptly for the final two sessions. When class time is overor
when people stop asking questionsthe day concludes with
a celebratory Mass. Onofrey Sr. still sees the Mass as an integral
part and a perfect cap on the day. At the day's conclusion,
students and faculty attend a closing reception during which,
not surprisingly, many participants continue their discussions
from the classroom.
Past offerings and student favorites have included classes
that focused on buying, selling and collecting art; the classics
department's Perseus Project; Chinese language; acting;
Jesuit higher education; Shakespeare; chaos theory; Christological
study; performing a successful Web search; and even a class
Former students repeatedly mention one class as a standout.
In 2000, the Continuing Education Day expanded to use facilities
outside of Hogan for the first time and held a class in the
Brooks Concert Hall. In that class, associate professor of
music, Emma Tahmizian, spoke for about a half hour on Schumann's Carnival
Opus 9, and then performed the piece. Students called
it truly beautiful.
The 20th Continuing Education Day was held on April 27, 2002.
Classes included: Visiting Assistant Professor Nancy Mardas
(Philosophy), Cloning: Ethical Response and Responsibility;
Assistant Professor John Schmalzbauer (sociology & anthropology), Catholics
in American Journalism: From the Margins to the Mainstream;
Associate Professor De-Ping Yang (Physics), Seeing the
Polarized World: What the Naked Eye Cannot Discern; Associate
Professor Judith Chubb (Political Science) Reconciliation
vs. Justice: Responses to Mass Political Violence; Professor
and Eleanor Howard O'Leary Chair Ambroise Kom (modern
languages and literatures), The Colonizer's Model
of the World and Postcolonial Conditions in Africa; Professor
Frederick Murphy (religious studies), What Are They Saying
About the Historical Jesus?; Associate Professor Carol
Lieberman (music), String Quartets from Joseph Haydn
and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Comparison; Assistant
Professor Shawn Lisa Maurer (English), Revisiting Jane
Eyre; and Associate Professor Thomas Worcester, S.J.,
(history) History Beyond Boredom and Seduction.
Since the event began, over 2000 alumni have returned to the
classroom. Speaking of the anniversary, the day's success
and his 10th year serving as chairman, Onofrey Jr. beams. The
day ran very smoothly, he says. Our 90 students
were treated to classes that varied from physics to history
to music. We had our first field trip' in the day's
history with the physics class on polarization. Each class
was marked by lively discussion of the topics, which I unfortunately
had to end to keep the day's schedule. It's especially
rewarding to work with the College administrators and professors
and learn about the various academic pursuits of the faculty.
I wouldn't miss it, even if I weren't running the
Onofrey Jr. proves that last statement by pointing to the
1993 Continuing Education Day, held on May 15. Onofrey Jr.
was married on May 1 and planned his honeymoon so that he would
be back in time for Continuing Education Day!