LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Siena College President Kevin Mullen, OFM, presented the Honorable Joseph Bruno, former New York State Senate majority leader, with the St. Bernardine of Siena medal on Oct. 2.
The highest award given by the college goes to people who have distinguished themselves through their involvement and support of Siena College and the local community. It is named for Saint Bernardine, the patron saint of the college. The college’s original name was St. Bernardine of Siena College.
“During his 33-year career in public service, Joe Bruno was the epitome of a servant-leader, always putting the communities of New York State first,” said Kevin. “His sense of purpose was to do good works. This is the mark of true Franciscan spirit.”
Recipients of the medal meet three primary criteria: personal or professional accomplishments or careers reflect commitment to the spirit and the tradition of St. Francis; distinguished involvement with or support for Siena College; and/or extended service to Siena which has made significant contribution to sustaining the traditions or raising the college’s profile.
After high school, the senator drove an ice truck for a year and decided he did not want to do this for the rest of his life, Senator Bruno said. He then went to Siena looking for a change, and one of the friars told him that although he “didn’t qualify for anything,” he could begin his studies. “It truly was charity,” said Bruno, laughing.
For a year, Bruno drove the ice truck down from Glens Falls for classes. Once Skidmore College opened up a satellite campus in Glens Falls, he had better grades and a solid foundation of coursework to attend, and was accepted to their program, according to a recent press release from Siena.
St. Bernardine of Siena, the Franciscan friar who lived at the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries, was a famous preacher who risked his life to assist victims of the plague. He popularized devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, from which the college took the emblem of the Holy Name on its seal. He was an advocate for education, believing that the wisdom of a compassionate, intelligent, aware person cannot be separate from the wisdom of God.