From the President: Spring/Summer 2021

Greetings all!

“Must attend to details” multiplied exponentially as we planned to move our May 2021 Commencement ceremony “live” to the American Family Field, and the Baccalaureate Mass, hooding and blessing to the 39th Street front lawn, but so many people pitched in to make it possible. Key among them: Anna Arens MBA ’20 in the President’s Office; Heidi Anderson-Isaacson, Brooke Wegner ’99, MA ’03 and Jill Einwalter in the Student Success division; and a host of “at the ready helpers” from Facilities, Campus Safety, Campus Ministry and the Marketing and Communications divisions. Thanks to all!

And glorious it all was! A terrific opportunity for our students to actually walk across the stage; a beautiful and safe site for friends and families to gather; and our beautiful front lawn and walkway, which allowed us to celebrate a meaningful Baccalaureate liturgy in the shadow of our magnificent Founders’ Hall, with School Sisters, staff and families of graduates present. Great visibility and media coverage for Commencement as well.

In addition to seeing the joy and pride of our graduates “up close and personal,” the highlight of the Commencement ceremony was, of course, the privilege and honor of both awarding our esteemed speaker, Billye Suber Aaron H ’21, an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, and hearing her inspiring words, clearly spoken from her heart and deep personal experience.

A less visible, though equally powerful, privilege was seeing — also up close and personal — the incredibly close friendships among Mrs. Aaron (pictured above, right), her sister, Sarah McDaniel, and close friend of many years, Rubye Lucas. In the wake of losing her beloved husband, Henry Aaron, Billye, her sister and her close friend reflected the depth of love and friendship they share in so many ways over the time we were together. Mrs. Aaron’s friendship with our trustee, Cecelia Gore ’92, MBA ’08 (pictured above, center), the same. With Billye clearly still grieving the loss of her husband, Sarah, Rubye and Cecelia are providing the support and love so needed at times like this. Just exquisite to witness!

As I observed this, I could not help but recall how precious friendships among women are, and how much more likely they are to develop at a college for women. Over my years at Alverno and in nearly two decades before that, I have met many alumnae whose decades-long friendships developed during their student years and deepened over the ensuing decades. These friendships have lifted women’s spirits and carried them through difficult times of illness, personal struggle and loss; through the years of child-bearing and raising, career moves and advancement; and through life in general. No doubt, one of the true and lasting benefits of education at a women’s college.

We are definitely due for some summer, as I would guess are many of you. May these warmer months offer safe occasions to gather; renewed opportunities to strengthen and deepen family and friendship ties; to read books, especially those about women’s friendships; and allow time for new encounters with our “emerging from the pandemic selves.”

Perhaps a visit to Alverno is in the plans. I surely hope so! I will close with a few favorite “women’s friendship” thoughts and renew my gratitude once more for Billye Suber Aaron and the beautiful friends surrounding her.

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

Jane Austen, British novelist, in Northanger Abbey

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.”

Gloria Naylor, American novelist

This letter appears in the spring/summer 2021 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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