Ethan Bachand ‘22
Grace Bromage ‘23
A week removed from his official inauguration, College of the Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau spoke to the Spire about his future thoughts and plans for the College. While most of the comments suggested a stage of planning across the board, the newly inaugurated President gave some hints to what the future may hold for Holy Cross.
President Rougeau first discussed the possibility of plans for student housing. A controversial subject this year, housing has been stretched thin due to the increasing size of the student body. As a result, the College decided two years ago to sponsor off-campus housing at an apartment building in Worcester. When asked if there were any concrete plans in place to address this issue, President Rougeau responded that the College has not made any decisions yet.
The President added to his statement by recognizing the College’s variety of options and hinting to the future planning process. As he said, “I think it’s fair to say that we have some things that we know … we have a relationship with the EDGE, I think we all know that the Hill dorms require some attention of some sort. They either need to be renovated or taken down. So we need to evaluate that process and those decisions through some kind of process. What we hope to do is execute a master planning process for the campus and we’re looking at that process now. We’ll see what that tells us about what our options are, but we need to make some decisions soon.”
When pressed on if a deadline exists for these decisions, President Rougeau stated that no set date exist. He pointed to the time it takes to effectively execute this plan, saying “We have to give the planners a little time so that’s going to take the rest of this academic year, but I would hope we would be in a position to make some decisions, at least preliminary ones, early in the next academic year.”
Part of the decisions about dormitory renovations will center around funding, which was another topic of conversation. Holy Cross’s current fundraising campaign, Hope and Access, was mentioned multiple times throughout the inauguration as a point of pride. The campaign, which hopes to raise funds for financial aid, is only $5 million away from completion. When asked if there were plans to immediately begin a new capital raising campaign, President Rougeau said that the College hopes to first establish a list of priorities to determine where funding is needed, saying “We don’t have any planning currently in place for the next campaign, but I think what I can say is we’re engaged in the strategic planning process. As that comes to some concrete resolution and we have some clear ideas where we want to move, that’s probably the next step towards another fundraising campaign. When that will happen, it’s too early to say.”
President Rougeau also talked about the school’s need-aware admission policy. Rougeua stated that it is very important to him that the school continues to meet full financial need of its student body. Rougeau did mention that while need-aware is the policy they are using now, but that “we will reevaluate each year as we better understand our financial situation and needs of our students. … Financially things look strong, and we’re committed to making sure we can support our students as best we can.”
During his interview, President Rougeau also responded to the news of Provost Freije taking a sabbatical and leaving her current position. President Rougeau stated that he will take an active role in the process for finding a replacement, saying, ““I will have a very central role, because I can’t think of another position in a college setting that is more important to the President than the Provost.”
In a follow up to his comments, the President was asked if the College would favor either an internal or external candidate. President Rougeau said, “I don’t think there’s a preference. I think there’s a need in this current time, while Provost Freije is here during this current time, to have some conversation with the faculty about what we need in terms of a leader. I think from those conversation it will be clear if an external or internal person would be best suited under the circumstances. I think we want to be as open to both as we can.”
To close out the interview, President Rougeau spoke about his experience with the inauguration. The President had a hard time choosing just one favorite moment from the event, saying, “It was such a wonderful celebration for me and my family and my colleagues and, of course, the College community. It’s hard to pick one. I have to say the most moving part of it for me was the Mass because I just was touched in so many different ways. It was wonderful to see how the different students participated. I loved the global and multicultural feeling of the Mass and the sense of history with the Jesuits that it offered, and having my family there was very meaningful to me. So that was a high point.”
He continued his statement, saying, “And the Installation itself and the “Vinstallation” shirts. The Vinstallation parade was great. My wife and I are still talking about that. Everyone in my family wants a shirt now. The whole thing was just incredible, and I do want to use this as a chance to thank the students for all the ways they participated and made it special.”
When asked if the President had anything else he wanted to share the campus community, he called for students to sign up for the Calls to Conversation and other activities that offer an opportunity to interact with the President. As he said, “I’m really interested in hearing from students their hopes and dreams for the future. Look out for other events to find time to talk to me and find time to meet me. I’m trying to do as much as I can to make sure students have a chance to get to know me and that I have a chance to get to know students, so just keep your eye out for those kinds of activities. We’re going to have dinners and we’re talking about some other types of things, food in Worcester, maybe more outdoors things. I just hope people will take some time to get out and about with me.”