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Centennial of education at University of Holy Cross

“We bring light to others,” said Ken Tedesco, executive vice president at the University of Holy Cross, now celebrating its 100th anniversary.
 “It’s a metaphor of what we stand for. Others can light their light from your light, and those carrying the light are reflective of you.”  
With the “flame” being the symbol of the university’s centennial, the conveying of light and educational spirituality will shine at a Mass Nov. 9 at St. Louis Cathedral.

Marianite Sister Ann Lacour, congregation leader, will process at 5:30 p.m. with a centennial candle that she will light from the altar candle. University deans will then receive the light for their candles from the centennial candle and, at Mass’ end, university president David “Buck” Landry, Ph.D., will process out with the candle to “bring the light of the University of Holy Cross out to the world,” Tedesco said.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond will be the celebrant and homilist at the Mass.

On Nov. 7-8, the Saint John Bible coming from the Holy Cross-affiliated St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame will be on display on the Algiers campus of the University of Holy Cross library and at St. Edward the Confessor Church in Metairie.

Expansion plans set
Over the past two years with Landry as its president, the University of Holy Cross has undergone several changes. Its two-tier governing board system has been consolidated into a single Board of Trustees, and the school has changed its name to the University of Holy Cross. The Marianites, who founded and owned the college, supported the change and now are sponsors of the university.

The name aptly reflects the addition of several bachelor’s and master’s programs – including a four-year bachelor of science in accounting degree, a bachelor’s degree in food science and a master’s in biomedical science and master of science in management – incorporated in the more than 65 academic programs at the university.

The food science degree is aligned with the New Orleans’ tourism industry and the ideal of Holy Cross-affiliated schools to be relevant in the city in which they are located.

“We teach the science of food,” Tedesco said. “The chemistry of the processing of foods is critical – how to make food safe. … We’re teaching that in a city where food is king. ... We thought, how can we create great jobs for the industry that is here? So, we collaborated with Tory McPhail (Commander’s Palace) and Dickie Brennan to create this curriculum because it’s going to help them and create good-paying jobs.”

Tremendous growth continues in the two Ph.D. programs in counseling as well as the doctorate (E.D.D.) in executive leadership, Tedesco said.

And, the University of Holy Cross has experienced enrollment growth in both its undergraduate and graduate disciplines to 1,250 students.

“Our enrollment is growing 10 percent a year and exploding on the graduate side,” Tedesco said.

“Our Ph.D. program in counseling is knocking it out of the park,” Landry said.

Change in leadership
With the new leadership came a new direction to reflect the changes. The new Board of Trustees of the University of Holy Cross Corporation devised a strategic plan to map out the university’s future. It comprises building a dormitory, an allied health building and athletic fields to accommodate expanding enrollment. The 28-acre campus easily has room for the new buildings, since only a fourth of the campus is currently used. Its partnership with Delgado Community College also remains strong.

“It’s really exciting,” Tedesco said.

Marianite Sister Rochelle Perrier has been named the new vice president of mission integration to ensure the university remains true to the culture, spirit, values and  the charism of the Marianites’ founder, Father Basil Moreau – “The mind will not be educated at the expense of the heart,” Tedesco said.

“We’re exploding with energy and enthusiasm,” he said. “We’re hopefully inspiring others as we aspire.”

Proud history moves forward
Tedesco is delighted with the impact the University of Holy Cross has had on the community over the past century. The Marianites, celebrating their 175th anniversary of ministry in Louisiana, first educated orphan boys in New Orleans in 1848, only seven years after the order was founded in LeMans, France.
In 1866, the Academy of the Holy Angels began granting high school diplomas, with its first graduation ceremony in 1869.

The state of Louisiana recognized the academy as a teacher training institute in 1916 and approved the conferring of college diplomas. The high school took in boarders in 1925. By 1931, Holy Cross Normal School was accredited to offer two-year teaching degrees. A year later, the Marianites of Holy Cross began a four-year college called Holy Cross Normal College to first educate its women religious. The school’s name was changed in 1942 to the Academy of the Holy Angels College.

Expansion was on the horizon from the 9th Ward when The Ernest Normand Family donated 40 acres of land in Algiers on General Meyer – the current university campus location – to the Marianites in 1947. Eleven years later, groundbreaking started construction at the Algiers site. In the 1960s, the college opened its doors to anyone seeking higher education.    

“Since our founding, we have produced leaders in education with many principals, assistant principals and leaders in both public and private elementary and high schools,” Tedesco said. “Our graduates are also leaders in health care. That’s the beauty of the University of Holy Cross. We educate New Orleans citizens to the benefit of New Orleans. Ninety-six percent of our graduates live, work and raise their families here, so they make an impact on our city.”

The heart of the University of Holy Cross lives within each of the students as they work in the community. “Where our graduates go, that’s where Holy Cross is. The future is very bright,” Tedesco said. “We’re growing prudently, wisely, strategically and still offer a quality education for a very reasonable cost.”

➤  Nov. 7-8, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.:  Viewing of the Saint John’s Bible in the University of Holy Cross’ Chapel, Woodlawn Drive, Algiers.  On Nov. 8, Janet Foret, a St. Mary’s College librarian, will discuss the Bible.
➤  Nov. 7, 5:30  p.m.: Rosary followed by a Mass at 6 p.m. and presentation and viewing of the Saint John’s Bible at St. Edward the Confessor, 4921 West Metairie Ave., Metairie.
➤  Nov. 9, 6 p.m.: Centennial Mass at St. Louis Cathedral, preceded by a procession of Marianites and university deans. A Muriel’s reception follows.
➤  Dec. 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Dockside, then a one-hour Natchez cruise for the Centennial Christmas party for students, faculty, alums and friends.
➤ Jan. 19, 6:30 p.m.: Doors open at the New Orleans Museum of Art for premiere of a one-hour documentary on the Centennial of the University of Holy Cross produced by Janet Gross by WLAE-TV. Local artist Tuna Seither’s  centennial print will be unveiled.
➤ March 30, 6:30 p.m.: A Centennial Spes Unica (One Hope) dinner at Metairie Country Club, by ticket. Frank and Paulette Stewart will be honored.
➤ Centennial Commencement: (date to be determined): the Mahalia Jackson Performing Arts Center. Political analyst Cokie Roberts will be the keynote speaker.   

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