SBU Commencement Highlights Franciscan History

HNP Communications In the Headlines

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — A familiar face told St. Bonaventure University graduates earlier this month to be “open, vulnerable and engaged with life” as their lives unfold.

“As you go forward, continue to listen to the reality around you,” said Dominic Monti, the keynote speaker. “Remember that what’s really important are not abstract ideas or lofty theories, but the individual.”

St. Bonaventure’s 147th commencement focused on the Franciscan heritage that its students share. Some 414 undergraduate and 106 graduate students participated in the graduation exercises in the Reilly Center Arena.

An internationally-recognized expert in the field of church history and Franciscan studies, Dominic served as interim SBU president from 2003 to 2004 — the period during which undergraduate members of the Class of 2007 were freshmen and sophomores.

As Dominic described in his address, the university decided that because of St. Bonaventure’s upcoming 150th anniversary next year, this year’s commencement ceremony should pay tribute in a special way to its Franciscan heritage.

He said that many people believe “that it is largely the ongoing presence of the Franciscan friars over the past 150 years that has given shape to the unique Bonaventure spirit.”

At the May 13 graduation, the university also honored its most senior friar, Daniel Hurley, with an honorary degree, a doctor of pedagogy. Dan, seated in photo, is a founding member of the Mt. Irenaeus community and is celebrating his 45th year of service to St. Bonaventure this year.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer made an unscheduled appearance, telling graduates that “if there was ever a time to aspire to your dreams, your time is now. … Don’t let the fear of failure deter you.”

Dominic, a class of 1967 alumnus, said a woman came up to him at a church service in Baltimore last spring and told a tale that made him beam.

“She said, ‘You must be doing something right up there to have 10 percent of your students go on a relief trip to the Gulf Coast,'” Dominic said. “I was never more proud to be a Franciscan.”

In closing, he said, “You are very special people. You are Bonaventure’s best.”

Senior Elizabeth Chugg of Senecaville, Ohio, offered the student address, encouraging fellow members of the class of 2007 to “lead a life uncommon.”

St. Bonaventure University seniors Christopher Ekimoff and Erin Farrell, both from suburban Rochester, N.Y., were recognized as the Ideal Bonaventure Student. Selected by a committee that receives nominations from the university community, they were recognized for exemplifying the spirit of St. Bonaventure and the ideals of St. Francis through community service and academic excellence.

The university also recognized four outstanding faculty members.

Richard Simpson, Ph.D., professor of English, received the Award for Professional Excellence in Teaching; Jeffrey White, Ph.D., professor of classical languages, received the Award for Professional Excellence in Research and Publishing; Alva Cellini, Ph.D., professor of modern languages, received the Award for Professional Excellence in Service; and Mark Huddle, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, received the Junior Faculty Award for Professional Excellence.

Commencement weekend included a candlelight Ceremony at sunset Friday, and an honors luncheon and baccalaureate Mass on Saturday, May 12.