Joey Abrams ‘23
Amidst the fanfare of Family Weekend and President Rougeau’s inauguration this past weekend, our new President had a busy schedule. Friday night’s dinner through Saturday’s football game saw the President moving quickly from campus building to campus building and all around Worcester. However, families and students got the chance to spend some quality time with President Rougeau and buckle down on serious issues during Saturday morning’s President’s Hour.
Taking a break from long food truck lines and the collective noise of families and alumni, President Rougeau appeared besides his Vice Presidents and other members of the school administration in Dinand’s main reading room. The room was reimagined for the event as rows of foldable chairs replaced the wooden tables and barriers. Despite the excitement of the attendees and the gatherings taking place on the nearby hoval, the noise in the library resembled the quietness of any garden-variety weekday of students studying. Yet, praise and admiration for President Rougeau found its peak during this quiet hour. In fact, the recurring instances of applause seemed the only break in silence.
However, the audience’s praise for our new President was nothing compared to President Rougeau’s emphasized adoration for Holy Cross’s accomplishments. Much of Preisdent Rougeau’s speech saw him listing the accolades and achievements that line Holy Cross’s history. These compliments put the whole room into good spirits as our new President adores Holy Cross as much as we do him.
While parents exhibited politeness and courtesy while asking their questions, they posed tough queries for the new administration. One of the most interesting exchanges occurred when a parent asked President Rougeau to defend the Liberal Arts structure against schools that focus more on pre-professional training. In response, the new President defined the liberal arts education as intrinsically linked to Holy Cross’s holistic approach to education. Furthermore, by referencing friends and coworkers, Rougeau asserted that many professionals that he knows work in fields far outside their undergraduate major. In this case, President Rougeau sees the competition between schools centered around a major-focused, pre-professional training structure and liberal arts colleges to be a fallacy. Not only does he admire the school’s history as a liberal arts institution but sees the continuation of the Jesuit influence as a duty to his predecessors: “I have a mission by the Jesuits to carry this work out.” Though he is the first non-Jesuit President, President Rougeau has expressed his admiration for the Holy Cross structure since his Presidency was announced. His comments during the President’s hour echoed those in July’s introductory statements: “I have a mission by the Jesuits to carry this work out.”
President Rougeau ended off the hour with a hopeful message of community and togetherness. Community has long been an essential facet of the Holy Cross experience—think “men and women for others”—and this new administration sees this as the guiding light for the future of a school. With a foundation of connectedness, we should all be optimistic for the start of Rougeau’s leadership.