St. Elizabeth’s is a very small place, and was when I graduated from there. I think there are two new buildings, “new” in the sense that they weren’t there in the mid-1960’s when I was, but not really current. Mahoney Library was built shortly after we graduated; Annunciation Center is more recent, likely within the last ten years. My kids Sara and Matt came with me once to see the campus. They both went to Tufts, which has a large urban campus in Medford, just a short hop on the T from downtown Boston. With furrowed brows, they asked me “Mom, did you want to go to such a little school?”
I explained that as a first generation college student, getting from Kearny to Convent Station was as big a move for me as going from Rochester to Boston and Tufts was for them. I think they understood, sort of.
I spent part of Thursday afternoon walking around campus, taking pics. Graduation has already happened and whatever may take place during the summer hasn’t yet started, so the place was empty. The only person I saw was the security guard, sitting watch in his guard station.
When I came here as a freshman, I was looking forward in time, seeing the College as a first step out of Kearny. It was bigger than the world I was coming from, and I sensed that a bachelor’s degree would lead to a bigger world yet. Looking backward now, from a world that is still expanding, the place just looks small.
I met on Thursday with the new major gifts officer, who gave me a list of deferred maintenance projects, along with their cost. The College has big fund raising challenge: fixing the place up, supporting the debt, raising money to subsidize the majority of students who can pay only a fraction of what it costs to come here, and creating a pool of money to support increased faculty salaries. The alumni donor pool, as befits an historically small college, is on the small side.
I got some clarity walking around, and visiting the cemetery. I don’t have any particular attachment to the buildings, fixed up or not. Most of the faculty who were important to me when I was here are now dead, and the remaining few are not in good health and would be unlikely to recognize me.
Whatever was the old story of me as a student here has long passed into history. Is there a new story? I’m not yet sure.