LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Alumni and friends of Siena College gathered on June 6 to recognize their peers for their extraordinary contributions to the college community. Among those recognized at the President’s Circle Champagne Brunch and Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony were Julian Davies, OFM, and Dennis Tamburello, OFM.
Julian, who retired this semester after teaching at Siena for more than 40 years, received a special recognition during the ceremony from Mary Beth Finnerty, ’85, director of alumni relations. In addition to teaching philosophy, Julian had served as alumni chaplain since 2002. In this role, he served the alumni community in important ways, including sending condolence letters to families of deceased alumni, attending wakes, funerals and numerous alumni events.
As college archivist, the Office of Alumni Relations called upon Julian often for historical questions about the college, friars, faculty and programs. Finnerty and those present warmly thanked him for his many years of service.
Dennis, ’75, professor of religious studies, was presented with The Reverend Benjamin Kuhn, OFM, Award for his contributions to the college community.
“It is a special honor to be getting an award named after him, because he was one of the most beloved friars,” said Dennis in a video produced by Siena. “I’m very grateful and I really appreciate the recognition. I don’t think of myself as going above and beyond. To me, in some ways, this is a little strange, because I feel like I’m getting awarded for doing what I’m supposed to do anyway.”
In addition to teaching, Dennis has built relationships with students as a friar-in-residence in the dorms, in music ministry, and as a chaperone on service trips. His relationships with the students have continued after graduation — he has officiated at 159 Siena weddings and performed countless baptisms.
“That’s what makes Siena for me — all that interaction,” Dennis said. “It helps that I’m a strong extrovert.”
While in high school, Dennis began seriously considering joining the friars. At the suggestion of the Province’s vocation director, he completed his undergraduate degree in modern languages (French) at Siena.
“I came to Siena, fell in love with the place, and the rest is history,” said the New Jersey native with a smile.
Dennis received a master’s degree in theology in 1980 from the Washington Theological Union and a doctorate in historical theology in 1990 from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. His scholarly research has focused on the Reformation, mysticism and interreligious dialogue. He is the author of “Union with Christ: John Calvin and the Mysticism of St. Bernard,” “Ordinary Mysticism” and “Bernard of Clairvaux: Essential Writings,” as well as many chapters, articles and book reviews. He received the Raymond Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award from Siena in 2014.
In addition to teaching, Dennis also serves as chaplain at several New York State correctional facilities. He was named the Volunteer of the Year at the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in 2012, and received the Fr. Matthew T. Conlin, OFM, Distinguished Service Award in 2014.
Dennis’s mother and family were among those who attended. The friars who were present during the alumni awards ceremony included guardian Mark Reamer, OFM, ’83, who gave the benediction, and president F. Edward Coughin, OFM, who gave remarks, as well as Larry Anderson, OFM, Michael Harlan, OFM, Walter Liss, OFM, and Tom Walters, OFM, among others.
Other alumni recognized at the ceremony include Joseph Marotta, ’80, and Richard Becker Jr., 85, who received the Professor Egon Plager Award for Humanitarian Effort, Kathleen Strang Gutmann, ’90, who received the Professor Joseph A. Buff Award for Career Achievement, and Andrew Krakat, ’05, and Breanne Elsesser, ’05, who received the Franciscan Spirit Award.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
Editor’s note: An article about Julian’s ministry of education will appear in a future issue of this newsletter.