La Salle University.

Explorer (Volume 1980) online

. (page 1 of 7)
Online LibraryLa Salle UniversityExplorer (Volume 1980) → online text (page 1 of 7)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

■*. •

■^:v •^^'-



^^^<; ■






\ ^.

'- m

1 ^^m


m. Ml

p^Hk ~ .. l^ciiLyV!?!


^i^^^^iggia?.'- ' 7/III' ^ n

s^iK^in /Ah v*~





LaSalle College
Philadelphia, Pa.



To an outsider, La Salle College may be just another institution of
higher learning. But that's to an outsider.

For someone who is associated with La Salle — whether it be student,
teacher or alumnus — there exists something a little more special. It's a
feeling that sets this school apart . . . making it more than a place to
earn a degree. It fills the atmosphere, the classrooms and buildings. Call
it a unique secret, if you will.

Rarely, in the life of a college, does its "family" have the opportunity
to celebrate two anniversaries. The 1979-80 school year marks the
fiftieth anniversary of La Salle at 20th and Olney — an event in itself.
But this is also the 300th anniversary of the Christian Brothers order
founded by St. John Baptiste de la Salle.

In appreciation, we would like to dedicate this special section and the
1980 Explorer to the Christian Brothers of La Salle. Unfortunately,
every Brother cannot be acknowledged in the publication. Yes, it is a
question of space — for no amount of space could do justice for the
work, dedication and affection that the Christian Brothers give to La

This dedication is only one small way of repaying that affection. We
all know that what sets La Salle apart, makes it so special, is not a

It's the Christian Brothers. We thank you.

An aerial view of the campus before the
construction of Olney Hall

1 j^

La Salle at 20th and Olney

Half a Century of College Life

As the years after the war faded,
people in the United States were
caught in an ever-expanding
prosperity. Jobs were plentiful,
money and food abundant, most
Americans were content . . . Every-
thing looked positive as the inflated
ball of prosperity bounced higher
and higher. How could anyone,
even those whose fiscal resources
were thin, hesitate to take the great
plunge into investment, especially
for expansion and improvement?
Such was the prevailing attitude as
La Salle College took its plunge to-
ward destiny by seeking a new and
larger campus.

Conceived in Crisis

Thomas J. Donaghy

For La Salle students, the years spent at 20th and Olney are a personal experience. Our view is
limited by the brevity of our stay here. Looking upon the buildings and the campus, we feel a sense of
constancy — of permanence. The La Salle we know is fixed in tradition. However, from a historical
perspective. La Salle College at 20th and Olney, on its fiftieth birthday, is still in those impressionable
years: an age at which tradition does not yet impede progress and at which the students, faculty, and
administration are still working toward the ideal La Salle. So, on the fiftieth anniversary of La Salle's
■plunge toward destiny," the eventful stages of the college's journey take on greater significance.

In 1925, the mood of the nation - and of La Salle College - was confident. Plans for renovating "old
1240" on North Broad Street were discarded and negotiations for the land at 20th Street and Olney
Avenue began. Final settlement for the property was made on October 11, 1926, and soon afterwards
construction started. The financial optimism of the Christian Brothers was shattered a short time later
by negotiation difficulties and a nationwide economic collapse. As a result, college students were not
moved from 1240 to 20th and Olney until February 5, 1930.

A staggering debt and construction problems clouded the future, but the new campus opened new
horizons. Numerous activities which has been struggling for survival or had never been considered
thrived at 20th and Olney. The Collegian, for example, first appearing in May of 1931, has grown &nd
prospered despite depression, expansion, and controversy. Up to this time, college newspapers had
had a traditionally short history at La Salle (as evidenced by the La SalJe Advance, the Argosy, the
Budget, the Go-Getter, the Quadrangle, and the Acorn).

La Salle's first football team kicked off in October of 1932. For ten years La Salle's football program
remained in operation — including one undefeated season! But when the student population fell
dramatically as a result of World War II, the sport was abandoned and never revived.

In 1935, the first fraternity at La Salle was founded - Sigma Phi Lambda. The early years also saw
the establishment of a law club, a history club, a debating society, and a pre-med society. And in 1940,
for the very first time, the faces and events of a school year were captured in the first publication of
the Explorer.

Naturally, many activities were
phased out because of the war. But
whether they remained active or
not, they are worth notice in their
reflection of our predecessors' inter-
ests, attitudes, and aspirations.
From this reflection we perceive the
image of an energetic, enthusiastic,
and innovative college community.

Between 1941 and 1942, enroll-
ment dropped from 411 to 356. The
call of the Army, Navy, and Ma-
rines continued to be answered by
La Salle students en masse so that
by December of 1943 the college
population had dropped to 121 stu-
dents. During this time the total en-
rollment of high school students at
La Salle kept climbing and by 1944
had reached 1000. But the college
picture turned even bleaker; the
end of the 1945 academic year saw
only fifty students attending La
Salle. Though the effort was costly,
and to some futile, the Christian
Brothers refused to close the school.
Finally, with the end of the war
emergency, the population began to grow. In fact, the rate of enrollment soared so high that the fall of 1947 brought
with it 1,700 college students. As Brother Thomas Gimborn noted, "It was unheard of — after dropping to so few
students — to be struggling to get together enough courses, sections, and teachers."

The increase in student population necessitated faculty growth. From 1945 to 1952, the college faculty climbed from
fifty-six to 120 full-time professors. In 1946, an Evening Division program was firmly established. Here, too, enrollment
rose from thirty-six in the program's first year to over 1,600 students by 1956. And in 1959, academia at La Salle
invaded students' final sanctuary — summer. Summer sessions created the year-round services La Salle provides

The growth of the college population soon forced out the high school students. By 1960, "the small mammals," as
Dr. Holroyd called the high schoolers, had migrated. But the entire campus was soon not large enough for the college
population and the need for expansion became apparent. A project of major importance to the college was the
completion of the library in 1951. Later years and further increases brought other new accommodations: several
dormitories, Olney Hall, the College Union Building, and the chapel.

The evolution of La Salle has led to a special college character. Brother Daniel Burke once wrote, "La Salle is a
complex college, a liberal arts college, a pre-professional school — with day, evening, and summer sessions ..." All of
these, combined with La Salle's emphasis on educational essentials and community, comprise "the essential fabric of
its tradition," propelling La Salle College further toward the realization of its destiny.



■^^^^^^^^^^^HH^H^^^^^^KH '''













Brother F. Christopher Businsky rl

Brother William Quinn strolling through campus




*1, -i




,HJOv.:-*'-'=^ - #|*s^

— liM^ilr^ ■





':'■< .' "'

1 1



1* '^

/ ■

1 (fn S




Brother Christopher Brother John Dondero



And it all started

300 years ago

Religious Orders are not founded in
a vacuum, nor do they exist in one.
They are all created with a specific
purpose in mind, and over the cen-
turies they develop a unique character
and spirituality. So, as we celebrate
the tercentenary of the Brothers of the
Christian Schools, it is fitting to con-
sider some of the history and chari-
sma of this Congregation which has
come to mean so much to the Church-
at-large and to our community in

Much of the raison d'etre of the in-
stitute was determined by its founder,
St. John Baptist de la Salle. Born on
the 30th of April 1651 in Rheims,
France, LaSalle was part of an aristo-
cratic family whose members had dis-
tinguished themselves in the French
judicial system. The young nobleman
was sent to school for the priesthood
at the Seminary of Saint Sulpice in
Paris where he earned a Doctorate in
Theology. Eventually he retired to the
city of Rheims where he obtained a
canonry at the Cathedral. Most of the
patrician clergy in 17th century
France would have been satisfied with
such a position, but LaSalle was cast
from a different mold than most of his

In March, 1679, he made the ac-
quaintance of a man who was to give
the impetus to LaSalle's whole mis-
sion, Adrian Nyel. Nyel was one of
those men we meet occasionally in
history — an energetic person of tre-
mendous vision who lacked the deter-
mination to realize his dreams. Nyel
was a founder of schools for the poor
whose basic premises impressed La
Salle who matched Nyel in breadth of
vision but who supplied the sedulous-
ness and assiduity which his partner
lacked. While Nyel's energy drifted in
other directions, LaSalle soon found
that he had discovered his life's work
in the direction of the school masters.
In 1684, LaSalle felt the compelling
quality so keenly that he renounced
his patrimony, distributed his wealth


among the poor, took the vow of obe-
dience with twelve of his school mas-
ters (the first Brothers), and then
donned the still characteristic habit of
the community.

Until LaSalle's death on Good
Friday in 1719, the institute which he
founded in 1680 suffered numerous
setbacks, such as the conflicts with the
ecclesiastical and civil authorities, the
Jansenist heresy, and the death of La-
Salle's beloved protege — Henri
I'Heureaux. But in spite of these
difficulties, the institute advanced
steadily. Before LaSalle died, he had
the satisfaction of seeing the institute
receive a charter from the Regent
Philippe in 1717, the same year La-
Salle resigned as Superior. When he
died, according to the noted LaSallian
historian W.J. Battersby, there were
274 brothers, in 27 communities,
serving 9,000 pupils in France.

Aside from the palpable extraor-
dinary quality of LaSalle's life as a
founder of a religious community, he
merits note for numerous other rea-
sons. He was centuries ahead of his


time in his attitudes toward the educa-
tion of the poor. He saw their tutelage
as a right, not a privilege. And his
book, On The Conduct Of Christian
Schools, was long an indispensable
volume in Christian educational phi-

Above all other reasons, though, we
remember LaSalle today for the
unique heritage of spirituality which
he left his Brothers. All religious take
vows of poverty, chastity, and obe-
dience. But a Brother of the Christian
Schools promises to live by two other
ideals which have lent the Institute
much of its character in the present
day world. The first of these is the
vow of association, by which they
vow to live together as brothers. This
may seem simplistic, but to LaSallians
it commands the highest degree of
committment and fellowship, both
within the community working at any
given school, and within the institute
as a whole. It mandates the co-respon-
sibility of each Brother for every oth-
er, and this assurance frees them for

their mission of teaching in the

The second of their special vows is
that of "service of the poor through
education." It is through the strength
they gain by their vow of association
that the Brothers can perform their
apostolic work so well. It should be
noted that the Brothers do not prom-
ise "service of the poor in education",
but rather through it. This means that
wherever a Brother teaches, whether
it be in a protectory, such as St. Ga-
briel's Hall in the inner city, or West
Catholic, or out on the Main Line at
Archbishop Carroll, he carries a spirit
of reverence for the poor and a sen-
sitivity for their needs which he tries
to inculcate in all his students, regard-
less of their background.

Defined and assisted by the spirit
and values LaSalle left for his In-
stitute, the Brothers of the Christian
Schools have expanded in the past 300
years from a small group of school
teachers in Rheims to the fifth largest
order in the Roman Catholic Church,

having some 16,000 members in over
80 countries. This pinnacle was not eas-
ily reached.

During the French Revolution, the
Brothers refused to swear the oath
required by the Civil Constitution of
the Clergy and were disbanded and
persecuted by the government with, at
one point, only ninety Brothers re-

After the Napoleonic era, the In-
stitute arose, Phoenix-like, from its
ashes, and under the talented lead-
ership of Superiors General Brother
Frumance, Brother Gerbaud, and
Brother Philippe Branscit, the mem-
bership in the Institute increased dra-
matically and the LaSallian spirit re-
vived itself.

In the United States too, the work of
the Brothers prospered (with the first
Brothers teaching in the parish school
at St. Genevieve, Missouri, in 1819.)
While encountering many obstacles,
the Brothers have done well here also.
At present, there are approximately
1,500 Brothers serving the poor
through education in this country.

St. John Baptist de la Salle's last
words were, "I adore, in all things, the
will of God, in my regard." It is this
legacy of selflessness and dedication
which is the most significant gift
he has left the Brothers in their min-
istry today. For, in their ceremony of
first profession of promises, the candi-
date to the Brotherhood promises "to
go wherever I may be sent and to do
whatever I may be assigned," thereby
engaging in that splendid and arduous
task which LaSalle set for them 300
years ago; to educate the young, to
show compassion for the poor, and
perhaps most importantly of all, to

James Butler (with the assistance of
Brothers F. Christopher, Charles Ech-
elmeier, Carl Clayton)


Br. Patrick Ellis


A salute to the Brothers

Gregory Claude Demitras
Gene Graham

F. Patrick Ellis
Emery C. MoJlenhauer
Edward John AJJgeier

Joseph Bender

Daniel W. Burke

F. Christopher Businsky

CarJ Clayton

jomes Conaghan

Charles F. Echelmeier

E. Louis Fernandez

Gerald Fitzgerald

D. Thomas Gimborn

F. Vincent Grimes

Richard Hawley

Daniel Bernion Kelly

Francis McCormick

James J. JVIuldoon

Lewis JVIullin

G. John Owens
David C. Pendergast

William J. Quinn

Jude Sapone

Paul Scheiter

Gregory Paul Sprissler

Anthony W. Wallace

Thomas W. Warner

Hugh V. Wilson

Lawrence J. Colhocker

Alfred W. Grunenwald

Hugh N. Albright

J. Edward Davis

William J. Martin

Joseph J. Keenan

Gerard F. Molyneaux

Joseph F. Burke

John P. Dondero

Gerard G. Vernot

Cosmos Van Tran

Richard D. Herlihy

John Kane
Brian Henderson
Joseph McGinty

The 1980 Explorer and the entire College com-
munity thank the Christian Brothers for their
work, dedication and enthusiasm for the benefit
of La Salle.


Christian Brothers hke what they see

Social scientists have made us
aware of cultural relativism. The
forms and institutions of one time or
place often seem immutable, eternal,
part of the very nature of things to
those near them, while they appear
arbitrary, pointless, droll and quaint
to outside observers. Yesterday's pas-
sions are today's nostalgia. And the
more clearly we perceive relativism,
the more of it there is; all dogmas,
axioms, truths, laws come under reva-
luation, scrutiny, question.

But how relative is relative? Is
Rheims, France too far away to mean
anything for Philadelphians? Is 1680
too long ago to help shape 1980? Is
John Baptist de la Salle, a priest, an
aristocrat, a humanist intellectual, too
remote to cross our paths at all? What
does liberal arts education mean
today? Why religious community?
Why Catholic schools?

We asked several of the Christian
Brothers to comment about the way in
which the La Salle College of 1980 is
still fulfilling the historic mission of
St. La Salle — and what a variety of


Brothers we asked! Ranging from 18 to
80, from undergraduate to full profes-
sor, from "mere" instructor to college
president, there was agreement. Yes,
there has been change, plenty of it,
more than any visionary of 1680 could
have conceived. Yet this change, the
Brothers thought, has been — well,
let's say relative. In a "back to basics"
age, some basics don't have to be gone
back to, because they were always

Brother Patrick Ellis, President of La
Salle College, thinks that "we are, in
the main, bringing St. La Salle's visi
into our century and our cultur
seeing to the real needs of persons
who otherwise wouldn't be served
fully, if at all. To paraphrase him, Si
La Salle said that parents and studeni
shouldn't have to trade off any educa-
tional quality in order to have a reli-
gious atmosphere. The place with his
name on it must be first-rate in all

As to academic change, about
which we also asked. Brother Patrick
"would like to see a more effective
thrust for intellectual formation: cohe-
rence in the structure of all majors,
cumulative impact in areas like phi-
losophy and theology along with the
existing brilliance of the separate
courses, much more study of long-
range subjects like history and foreign
languages." Brother Patrick thinks all
of this is coming, "but slowly."

Brother Gregory Paul Sprissler
came to La Salle in 1933 and has been
something of everything: faculty mem-
ber, dean of the college, president of
the college, and dean of the evening
division. "The trend today," Brother
Gregory Paul notes, "is toward fewer
and fewer Christian Brothers. During
the 30's and early 40's, the faculty,
though small, was composed mostly of
Brothers. Every student in each of his
years at the College came into in-
timate contact with the Brothers. It
follows that the traditions of St. La
Salle were maximized. Today it is
possible for a student to spend four
years here without coming under the
influence of a Brother in the class-
room." Yet, of course, we are here,
which very fact is a striking if indirect
tribute to the traditions of the Broth-

Brother William Quinn, who has
also served La Salle College and the
Christian Brothers with panache, dis-
tinction, and longevity, also feels that
the college today is still in step with
the founder's ideals. "Who am I to
speak for St. John Baptist de la Salle?


La Salle
into the '80's

V, riiisuuiiiuMninsinn



* itimiini;^ l y ^-i - — ^

All the same, my guess is that if he
were to return to visit the College
bearing his name he would be
pleased, and proud, of what the Col-
lege is, in Anno Domini 1980." What
makes Brother Quinn feel that way?
"The blend of idealism enunciated in
the philosophy and goals of the Col-
lege with the realism of day-to-day
living at 20th and Olney has created
something unique, something as dis-
tinctive as any family is distinctive.

"La Salle is a good place to live, and
work, and reflect and dream. The
mood is friendly, the climate is free,
and joy in living has not passed us by,
thank God. I have yet to hear of any-
one on campus hindered in making
his or her unique contribution to the
commonweal. And yet, in spite of this
spirit of live and let live, it is rare that
anyone abuses the good nature of oth-

Newer and younger Christian Broth-
ers agree with their older confreres,
stressing the main mission laid down
by St. La Salle. Brother Richard Her-
lihy, a senior sociology major (and the
first Christian Brother, as far as we
know, to take his lumps on an in-
tramural football team), places the
mission of the Brothers in context:
"The Council of American Bishops ex-
horts our clerical and religious educa-
tors to 'teach as Jesus taught.' The
Christian Brothers seem to me to ex-
emplify such teaching, which involves
adapting Jesus's way of reaching out



to people — going out into the commu-
nity and proclaiming the Good News,
teaching his people, touching them in
words and deeds. Likewise, the Chris-
tian Brothers are among the commu-
nity — in the classroom, working with
a social action agency, moderating or
participating in neighborhood activi-
ties, and many other apostolates. The
Brothers are prayerful men of faith
who, through their words and deeds,
reach out and touch God's people

Another "newer" Brother, Brian
Henderson, made his first profession
in September of last year. His words
show that he had pondered deeply
just what he was professing by be-
coming a Christian Brother. "Through
his writings, St. La Salle insists that
the Christian Brothers provide quality
education as being more than text-
books and exams; forming well-
rounded contributors to society was a
major objective for him, too. The Col-
lege continues to change physically,
academically, and philosophically in
order to address the needs of present
and future students. It is because of —
not in spite of — these changes that La
Salle College strives to fulfill the
Founder's vision."

You might have your misgivings
when the next tuition bill comes in,
but Brother Claude Demitras, Dean of
the Evening Division, reminds us that
"St. La Salle directed the Brothers to
educate the poor . . . which concept
may be extended to include those in
our society who have not had the
chance to take advantage of the edu-
cational opportunities available due to

financial difficulties." Certainly the
College, Day and Evening Divisions
alike, exhausts every possibility to in-
sure that any qualified applicant will
not be prevented from attending be-
cause of financial problems. Adapt-
ability and dedication are the main
factors, Brother Claude thinks, that al-
low La Salle College to continue exist-
ing and providing service "in this ex-
pensive, real world, joining in furious
combat against present-day inflation."
The College provides an education
that is both "hot-off-the-press" and

timeless. "St. La Salle would be proud
of us."

Former President Brother Daniel
Bernian identifies St. La Salle's genius
as an educator with his ability to find
a "solution to a need in seventeenth-
century France" that transcended time
and place. This need was answered by
the establishment of schools, "amidst
the poor and for the poor, which were
to be controlled instruments adapted
to humans. Here . . . are found the
three ideas vital to the Lasallian tradi-
tion — to answer a need, to educate

through the schools, to solve the prob-
lems of the poor." And for the 1980's?
Brother feels that "although there
have been many faces of La Salle it
seems to me its heart is still that of St.
La Salle, who gave all his goods to the
poor, answered the needs of his times,
founded schools, and gave himself un-
selfishly to the education of youth."

The Founder was "resilient," ac-
cording to Brother William Martin, an
"eminently practical man, light years
ahead of his time. Respectful of tradi-
tion, he was not afraid to break from
it when it hindered his work. Our
Brothers are rediscovering the genius
of the Founder to adapt. Much has
changed, but the very notion of adapt-
ation to our students is the essence of
de la Salle's spirit. As we approach
the 80's and 90's we still will continue
to work for Christ and his Church in a
spirit of service and dedication to our
students. We will continue to make
whatever changes are necessary for
the times, but in all this we will be
encouraged and guided by the spiritu-
al legacy bequeathed to us by John
Baptist de la Salle."

1 3 4 5 6 7

Online LibraryLa Salle UniversityExplorer (Volume 1980) → online text (page 1 of 7)