Cor Mariae Dinner 2012

Apr 22, 2012

Sister Anne Munley, IHM congratulates the 2012 Cor Mariae medal recipient, Dr. Uldarico Rex Dumdum


Since the order of Cor Mariae pro Fide et Cultura was established in 1965 to honor faculty and administrators who have demonstrated distinguished vicennial service to Marywood, it has been a wonderful tradition to meet each year to pay tribute to our colleagues who reached significant milestones in their records of service. 

I am delighted to have this opportunity to express both Marywood’s thanks—and my own—to the exceptional educators who have given so much of their lives…of their varied and considerable talents and abilities…to advance that mission.

We have already paid tribute to just such a dedicated individual—Dr. Uldarico Rex Dumdum, Jr.—and have inducted him into the order Cor Mariae pro Fide et Cultura for his distinguished vicennial service. 

Sadly, this occasion also involves farewells, and I have come to the portion of our program in which we much say some good-byes.

Last summer, sadly, we had to say good-bye to Sister Gilmary Spiers, knowing full well that the library would never be quite the same. For nearly 45 years, it was impossible to think of the library without thinking of Sister Gilmary...and vice versa. It was Sister Gilmary who created the library’s media mosaic of films, discs, records, tapes, slides, videos, and all other non-print materials...starting from a time when such non-print matter was barely considered legitimate library material at all. Her work with the Educational Film Library Association not only earned her recognition, but reflected with distinction upon this institution—which incidentally is her own alma mater. Above all...throughout every one of those years, we were most enriched by Sister Gilmary herself. Her gentle, loving presence, her soft voice, kind smile, and unfailing faith inspired and warmed those around her. Like the library in which she so diligently labored, she too, has been an inspiration to those she served.

After the end of this semester, we will have to say farewell to several more dear friends and colleagues. Sister Alphonsa Concilio who will retire after nearly 37 years of faithful, loving dedication to the institution that is also her alma mater. Sister Joan McCusker captures the pure essence of Sister Alphonsa in two words: “joyful servant.” Sister Joan tells about meeting Sister Alphonsa when she herself came to Marywood as a freshman.  “I remember she always had a smile and a kind word at-the-ready for her students...she always willingly gave time to students when they needed a listening ear....she always embraced new challenges with grace and an ‘I can do that!’ attitude.”  Little did Sister Joan know that years later, she would return to Marywood, to become a music colleague to the teacher she had so admired.  Sister Alphonsa is still the caring, kind “joyful servant” she has always been. Students in her studio often say, “I like working with Sister Alphonsa; she helps me be a better person.”  Sister, you have helped all of us become better people; you have truly brought joy to your students throughout the years; we know you will bring that same grace-filled spirit of joy to whatever new experiences await you.

Almost 35 years ago, Dr. Michael Foley came to Marywood as an interim instructor. He had been looking for a small Liberal Arts college in the East or Northeast to launch a teaching career. He set off to check out 50 or so listed in Peterson’s Guide. As luck (at least for Marywood) would have it, he ended up in Pennsylvania—and right here. Maybe it was the road signs for Carbondale and Danville that seemed oddly familiar to this young native of Illinois. He wondered if he’d been driving in circles...but then he decided he might have been guided here. The instructor position he found was temporary. Marywood had just needed a one-semester replacement. But Sister Michele Keenan—always an astute administrator—was so impressed with this young man that she found a way to bring him back. And the rest is history. He served us as Professor of Philosophy, Chair of the Philosophy Department and, most recently, as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. A true Academician, he has been committed to research and scholarship. He is the author of articles and publications on subjects from the Philosophy of Law to Women’s issues, and he has edited and published an introductory book on philosophy.

He has made us think...made us laugh...made us better for having known him. He will leave us this summer at the end of the semester, and we will miss him enormously. But we do wish for him all the best life has to offer. And we can only hope that one day—like Willie Nelson—he will find himself on the road again, passing those signs for Carbondale and Danville... the ones in Pennsylvania that will lead him back to visit us in Scranton.

I should also mention that among those members of our faculty who have left us is Dr. Sam Dagher, who retired after nearly 35 years of service to Marywood. Although he could not be with us this evening, I could not let the opportunity pass without expressing our appreciation for his commitment to the University and significant contributions to the growth and development of the Business Department.  Dr. Walter Broughton, who also could not join us this evening, has served as Coordinator of the Criminal Justice program and spearheaded its growth and development for more than 35 years.

In all of their future endeavors, we offer them our best wishes, along with our thanks for their contributions to Marywood University.

Tonight, of course, we are delighted to recognize other colleagues who have previously joined Cor Mariae ranks and have now reached personal milestones, still farther along on their paths of service.  It is not, however, for length of service alone that we salute them, but also for the exceptional accomplishments and extraordinary contributions—both to Marywood and to the larger community—that they have made along the way.

Thinking back, 1967 was a very good year for Marywood. It brought two extraordinary individuals to our campus—Sister Margaret Gannon and Dr. Kathleen Munley.  Now 45 years later—to our incredible good fortune, both are still here.

Sister Margaret Gannon is such a dear, familiar friend to all of us that it is admittedly hard to say anything about her that we don’t already know. In spite of her protests that we shouldn’t say anything...the opportunity to thank Sister Margaret for her incredible record of service is a pleasure we will not be denied. As her dear friend, Dr. Kathleen Munley has written: “The reasons for honoring Sister Margaret are simply obvious: her unqualified dedication to academic integrity and high standards; her total commitment to this University—to the  Department of Social Sciences, the faculty and students, and to Marywood’s mission...her advocacy for world peace and justice, in particular her contribution for empowerment of minorities ...her  selfless support for and work on behalf of all underprivileged and forgotten souls of this world. Her boundless energy and cheer...all packaged in a dynamic individual who has served this institution and her order for 45 years. There is no one quite like her. It is hard to keep up with her...but that in itself is one of her great accomplishments, because she does so much that takes her way beyond the usual areas related to her work as a scholar and teacher,  and in so doing, she has opened many new doors that add to the greatness of Marywood’s mission.”  Thank  you, Margaret, for the passion that has characterized your extraordinary service at Marywood and well beyond.

Dr. Kathleen Munley could not be with us tonight, yet, for her also, we cannot let the opportunity to pay tribute to her accomplishments and her service pass. What she has written of Sister Margaret’s commitment to academic integrity and high standards is equally true of Dr. Munley. She, too, has been totally committed to our faculty...our students...and our mission. She, too, is a distinguished graduate of this University and no institution could ask for an alumna who would serve her alma mater more faithfully and well. Dr. Munley and Sister Margaret are pillars of the Social Studies department, and Marywood has been blessed by both of these extraordinary individuals. 

The thought that comes to mind when looking at the amazing record of service accrued by Sister Frances Russell is absolute and total dedication to excellence in the preparation of future teachers.  Not content with earning one Cor Mariae citation, Sister Fran has now earned this distinction twice over.  To our great good fortune, for a full 40 years now, she has been brightening and enlightening our campus with her cheery greetings, quick smile, and vibrant personality. She has been deeply committed to excellence in Reading Education, and has a long and storied history of service to the Northeast PA Reading Association and Keystone Reading Association. Through her activities in the International Reading Association, she has enhanced Marywood’s reputation on state, national, and even global levels. 

She is simply put—a teacher—heart and soul. Her passion for her profession instills a love of the teaching/learning process in her students and inspires new generations of educators. She is genuinely concerned about her students and their academic and personal achievements and challenges. Her students love her...actually, everybody loves her. She even has a sandwich named for her in the Atrium Café. Sister Fran, for four decades of loving friendship, we are truly grateful.

For the past 35 years, Dr. Peter Spader has devoted his life to Marywood his students... and because his creative mind will never seek the obvious path...the study of a footnote in the history of philosophy: namely, Max Scheler.  Peter Spader is, Dr. Foley, declares, one of the last six Scheler scholars in the world. He thrives on weaving arcane arguments regarding moral principles that history has relegated to philosophic landfills.  Still, he writes, not only with passion, but also with clarity, coherence, and precision. He has always been, Dr. Foley confesses, “the ‘go to’ member of the Philosophy Department when we needed to write departmental minutes to lambaste the administration. He would take our venom and turn it into scathing pleasantries. Under Pete’s skilled pen, the Philosophy Department, happily, was never brought up on charges of insubordination.”

 Put succinctly, Dr. Foley says, “Pete is a genuine mensch.” His kindness is real and without qualification, and, like Scheler, his heart is pure.  For three decades, Peter, we have been enlightened by your logic...charmed by your diplomacy...and blessed with your kind and pure heart!

Marking three full decades of service this year is Dr. Mary Alice Golden. Simply saying this, I’ve noticed, is about all it takes to sum up what Mary Alice Golden has meant to Marywood University. Look around. The moment I mentioned her name—people smiled. Mary Alice has that effect on us. The wit and warmth and irrepressible sense of humor that she brings to her work on a daily basis is justly famous among colleagues and students alike—and makes her an effective and positive leader. It is hardly surprising, given her lively, loving personality that her particular passion has been for geriatric nursing. Her goal has been to instill in her students a positive attitude and caring commitment to the needs of aging patients.

In all she does, she simply personifies honesty, integrity, dignity, and the highest ideals of her profession as a nurse and nursing educator.  Dr. Diane Haleem perhaps sums it up best, saying, “Students love her.  We love her!”

Also for three decades now, Dr. Carole Gustitis has demonstrated her solid grasp of the burgeoning needs of our exponentially expanding numbers of graduates. She had a clear vision for the Career Services Office when she became its director in 1992. Over the past 30 years, she had managed the transformation of that small office into the professional, highly-regarded program it has become. She implemented campus job and career fairs; planned for our participation in a region-wide consortium of colleges and universities, she established initiatives from career-decision-making courses to mock interviews...all designed to help Marywood graduates transition to the world of work, and  “lead on.”  Hers, in a very practical sense, is to oversee the outcome of Marywood’s mission. To the good fortune of Marywood’s students, this she has done with commitment and consummate skill for 30 years. 

For fully 25 years now, Rosemary Burger has been serving her alma mater.  However, it’s hard to decide whether her service to the University is more effectively expressed in number of years or in number of graduates. Either number is impressive. Not only is Rosemary herself and accomplished Marywood alumna—but thousands of other graduates literally owe their diplomas to Rosemary Burger.

For a quarter century, she has vigilantly watched over multiple academic matters, including vital student records—right down to seeing that diplomas are properly prepared and coordinated for presentation at Commencement. As a matter of fact—Rosemary is not only responsible for seeing graduates properly awarded diplomas—she is to a large degree responsible for having set them on the path to graduation in the first place—having undertaken the massive task of overseeing production of graduate and undergraduate academic catalogs. She has also, incidentally undertaken the Herculean role of leadership in the Datatel Colleague conversion, devoting countless hours to the process.

For R- and-R from these endeavors, she loves traveling to Disney World...and she takes great joy in books, reading, and all things Irish. Ann Boland-Chase happily notes that, “Rosemary ... excellent Registrar that she is, looks to accuracy and timeliness in her work and the work of those in her office.” Rosemary, for proving, yet again, that good things come in small packages and Herculean tasks are often conquered by those of less than Herculean stature, we truly thank you. 

Also marking twenty-five years of service to Marywood is Dr. John Lemoncelli. As teacher, mentor, scholar, colleague, and passionately caring professional counselor and psychologist—Dr. Lemoncelli continues to bring a gentle humanity to all he does....balance, perspective, and sincerity to any discussion.  He is a leading authority on the issue of professional ethics, and serves as a member of the Ethics Committee of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association. He is a treasured friend to his colleagues. Sister Gail Cabral says “in describing John...I would most want to note his caring, thoughtful, good-humored insights and concern for each of us. He keeps up-to-date on research, and thus is able to bring new knowledge to the practical concerns of practitioners.

He has developed insightful metaphors in his own publications, especially on the issue of survivors of abuse.  Within the last two years, he has authored two books: A Mind of Its Own: Healing the Mind and Heart of the Parasite of Childhood Abuse, and Healing from Childhood Abuse: Understanding the Effect, Taking Control to Recover—published this semester. As a teacher, he consistently earns near perfect student evaluations. (For him, a “bad semester” has one of his course ratings dip below 4.9 on a 5-point scale.) In one evaluation, a student wrote “the excellence of his teaching and counseling have blessed many men and women...I am honored to know him and share this journey.” John, we are likewise honored to know you, and honored to share in your journey over the past 25 years.

For 25 years, now Tony Spinillo has been marshaling and guarding Marywood’s vital computer and network services. Dr. Michael Mirabito once aptly described him as “Horatio at the Digital Bridge.” Certainly Tony has helped create a network that is nearly bulletproof—and he will go to any lengths to protect it.  Joe Garvey says that Tony, as CIO has reshaped the University’s IT Department into the envy of our surrounding peer schools.  Tony is always available... focused and ready to solve any problem.

Dr. Patricia Dunleavy recalls once asking Tony to check on some particularly nasty SPAM—which he promptly disposed of, commenting that he must have blocked half of South America to do it. Tony can usually be found, we’ve heard, in one of three places: Marywood, Sam’s Club or his garage. The garage is where he practices Gripping. Gripping is an unusual can learn about it on Tony’s website.  It is probably not one we’ll see in the London Olympics—although it is one that promotes development of hand and arm strength. Knowing this we might well conclude that Tony Spinillo is—if not armed and dangerous—certainly dangerously armed.

He is also well known for his uncompromising integrity and absolute dedication to his colleagues...and to the University. As Dr. Mirabito says, Tony’s word means something when it’s given—which is a pretty rare commodity.

The evening has brought me now to the one farewell I would have most wished NOT to make. Just a few weeks ago, we suddenly, tragically lost a dear friend and colleague—Cathy Hanson Schappert, Assistant Vice-president for Library Services. We had planned to honor Cathy tonight for her 25 of faithful years of service to Marywood. Instead we must honor her in memoriam.

Cathy Schappert’s original Cor Mariae citation highlighted some of her achievements noting that: when she joined Marywood’s faculty, she brought with her experience in implementing an automated library system and a vision of what the academic library of the future could be and should be. In the 25 years since then, she never wavered from that vision and worked tirelessly and efficiently to bring it to reality. Cathy led the way from early efforts to convert the old card catalog to an interactive electronic selecting and implementing our first integrated library system (remember MELVIN?)…to multiple system upgrades and then, totally new systems... continually increasing the number of online resources...always seeking to maintain the highest level of service. She was ahead of the curve in recognizing that changing ways of learning were dramatically altering the needs of students. She knew that Marywood’s library would also have to change to meet those needs. She became the driving forces behind the dream of a new, state-of-the-art learning commons that would make Marywood University’s academic library second to none.

Cathy Schappert was the consummate professional...a leader in the Pennsylvania Library Association—which honored her with the Certificate of Merit—one of the highest awards given by the association. We remember her for her many outstanding achievements.

But most of all we remember her as a warm, caring colleague, with an ever-ready smile, high heels and great style. Cathy was quiet but purposeful, with a unique talent for bringing out the best in people and the capacity to keep focused on achieving her dream.  We can now only extend our deep sympathy and prayers to her husband David, family and friends. Cathy, we hold close your memories and take comfort in knowing that your legacy will continue to inspire the excellence of the Marywood Learning Commons for decades to come.

To all of you whose milestones we celebrate tonight—and to all distinguished members of the order Cor Mariae pro Fide et Cultura—I offer my thanks for your continuing contributions to the excellence of Marywood University. 

I add my prayer that as you have blessed this University with your faithful service, so may you be blessed in all you are and do now and always.