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Four Years at the Mount

Notable Individuals from the Mount's Past

October 2014

Easing apprehension

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

The unfamiliar, strange, and foreign tends to frighten people, even if itís something as small as trying a new meal at your favorite restaurant or having to present a speech to your class. I am not new to the feeling of uneasiness when it comes to the unknown, but this isnít tasting an exotic dish or trumping my stage fright. This is college. It finally sunk in when I watched my parents drive away that I am on my own, for the most part. Initially, itís the excitement at the prospect of being independent, the feeling that Iím a "grown-up," but when that melts away Iím left with the nervousness. I was apprehensive about the impending trials of keeping up with the course work, making friends, and experiencing all I could without letting my grades slip.

Luckily, my roommate wasnít a problem. We both went to Visitation Academy for Girls in Frederick and we have known each other since first grade, so we knew the otherís "defects" and personality quirks. As I just mentioned, I attended a small, all-girls, Catholic school, and after that I attended a small Catholic high school called Saint Maria Goretti. I was used to small, close-knit communities and college had always been portrayed in movies as vast and confusing. So I was a little relieved that as soon as everything settled down, it wasnít as frightening as I thought. I didnít find myself in an intimidating campus, but rather in the close, Catholic community that is Mount Saint Maryís.

Before the school year started I signed up for a retreat called Mountward Bound, where I, along with several other first-year students, served the surrounding communities. I love taking part in community service, but I was never a fan of retreats. I always had bad experiences, so my expectations were fairly low, although our retreat did have the added benefit of early arrival to campus. After everyone was settled we piled into the vans and set out to our intended destination. The retreat center was called Summit Lake, and it was located in the woods by (you guessed it!) a picturesque lake. After everyone moved their belongings into their rooms, we completed some icebreaker activities.

At this point, I know what youíre thinking. I inwardly groan every time I hear those words, but after the initial awkwardness we grew accustomed to one another; we were slowly starting to shed the nervousness of being away from home and beginning to feel relaxed in each otherís company. I think this was mostly due to the fact that the leaders on the trip were also students, so it was comfortable to be in their company. Not to mention, they were some of the kindest, funniest, and most easy-going people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. On the first day we went to a thrift store to help restock and it was uplifting to see the once emptied shelves overflowing with new merchandise. Then we went to Baker Park (in my hometown of Frederick) for a picnic and played some very amusing games. Our last stop for the day was at Montevue Assisted Living, where we played bingo and visited with the residents. On the next day we went to a Silence of Mary Home in Harrisburg. Silence of Mary is a home to those who need one. It was founded by Sue and Vern Rudy, who help communities that are affected by poverty by providing food, shelter and a safe environment to those who need it. We also went to a free-trade, non-profit organization called SERRV, where we helped inspect and package handmade goods from all over the world. Throughout these four days, the people I worked with became friends. We worked and played and laughed alongside each other and we formed a bond of sorts. I have never been so glad to have been on a retreat.

The first week of classes was gone in a blur of syllabi and first impressions. So far I enjoy all my teachers and the classes are interesting too. What I really admire is the passion all the professors have, not only for their subject, but for teaching as well. One of my absolute favorites is my "Introduction to Shakespeare" class, taught by Dr. Sarah Scott. My preference for this subject may be a tad biased because of my intentions to be an English major, but my love for the written word cannot be helped. My original worries are not as prominent as they were at the start. Yes, I am still concerned about my grades and about juggling a social life, but so far I am doing well in class, I have good friends, and above all, I have found my place in this family here at Mount Saint Maryís.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir

Leaving a legacy

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

As students, we often see only one side of our professors. Unless they are purposefully open about themselves, we occasionally catch glimpses of the other subjects they are passionate about. This is simply the nature of the teacher-to-student relationship. Occasionally, however, these working relationships can turn into personal connections. This is one of the many traits that help to define the faculty at the Mount as a whole. I have yet to have a professor who hasnít truly and genuinely cared about the kind of person I want to be and how they can help in my development. With this in mind, I knew that finding a retired professor who embodies what Mount St. Maryís stands for wouldnít be a difficult task, and it certainly wasnít. The first professor that I asked immediately had someone in mind, and I know I would have experienced the same reaction from several professors. When I first asked Dr. Sarah Scott, she said that Dr. Robert Ducharme was the first professor who came to mind.

Dr. Ducharme retired from Mount. St. Maryís in May of 2006 after 39 years with the school. He received the title of Professor Emeritus of English and retired with distinction. The first sign that Dr. Ducharme was someone who embodies and loves the Mount was hearing that even though he retired, he continues to teach one class each semester. Dr. Ducharme has taught classes in Latin American literature, Irish literature, American Western literature, and Detective fiction, and he is especially passionate about Japanese literature and film. He takes a specific interest in film studies and incorporates this into his courses. Clearly, Dr. Ducharme has put a lot of time, work, and years into the Mount and its students. However, I recognized his true embodiment of the Mount and all that it stands for when Dr. Scott told me that he helped to craft the Mount St. Maryís mission statement and its four pillars: faith, discovery, leadership, and community. As a student, I see the impact of this mission every day and everywhere. Itís not possible to walk from one building to another without being reminded of our values and yet I never thought about the people who created them. Now that I do, I realize that they must have been people driven by these four ideas and people who wanted students to have an experience surrounded by the same ideas. According to Dr. Scott, Dr. Ducharme would only exceed my expectations.

Dr. Scott came to work at Mount St. Maryís a few months after Dr. Ducharme left, but she says that he has always been a presence at our school. She continued by saying that his reputation preceded him and she knew the importance he had. It wasnít until she had started teaching that she realized how much his students truly cherished him. Referring to his students as his "legacy," Dr. Scott shared that this is what makes him so special, the connections he forms with students. Everyone loves his classes and his classroom presence is incredible, and it always has been. Many times, Dr. Scott explained, the English department has connected with English alumni and asked these students to return to speak on panels for current English majors. The panelís main purpose is to help show students the wide variety of things that can be done with an English degree and to offer guidance. A recurring theme from graduates from the 80s and 90s up to the most recent of graduates has been the respect for Dr. Ducharme. It is clear that he has been cherished for decades, and this adoration for him has not faltered.

One of the most prevalent examples of this student legacy is Mount St. Maryís graduate, Rafael Della Ratta. Della Ratta was a student of Dr. Ducharme and had such a connection with him that he just recently gave a donation to the College of Liberal Arts in the form of an annual lecture series. This series will be named "The Ducharme Veritas Lectures" at the request of Della Ratta. The inaugural lecture will be titled, "The Other War on Poverty: The Search for Meaning in America" and will be given by Dr. Leon R. Kass. This first lecture is simply the beginning and Della Rattaís endowment proves the influence of Dr. Ducharme on his life. This example, although rather grand, is not the only one. It is just one example of a life that Ducharme touched throughout his years and the lasting impression he makes. Dr. Ducharme is able to form these connections because of his true care for his students. Dr. Scott explains this and uses the example of his Facebook page to assist. He has a "professor presence" on Facebook and connects with students where they feel comfortable. All that he has done and continues to do for our beloved school goes above and beyond the job description.

At the Mount, we are constantly surrounded by caring and genuine professors, but Dr. Ducharme seems to have had an influence on not only his students, but on his colleagues as well. Dr. Scott focused mainly on the love for Dr. Ducharme she sees in Mount students, but she said herself, "I would love to have been able to take his classes." The respect is clear, not only in this statement, but also in the way Dr. Scott talked about Dr. Ducharme. She mentioned that the entire school, student body and staff are lucky to have him at Mount St. Maryís and that he truly embodies the four pillars of the Mount, the very pillars he helped to craft.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary

Embodying the Mount

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

On a Friday morning I woke up and made my way across campus to Upper McGowan. I walked up the stairs and through the double glass doors to meet with the Executive Vice President. I entered the lobby and sat for a brief moment before going into his office. He turned the corner and shook my hand with a smile before we sat down and began our discussion.

Dan Soller, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, has been working for Mount St. Mary's for about fifteen years. However, these years have not all occurred in consecutive order. Soller originally began working for the Mount in 1981. At this time he had a job in student affairs, which was an area that he had committed himself to and was seeking to pursue. He worked in this position until 1986. It wasnít until 2004 that Soller found himself coming back to the Mount for a second time for another position. He has been working at the Mount ever since.

Soller describes his responsibilities in his current job as "keeping the trains running." He works closely with the university president, Thomas Powell, and with other Mount faculty to ensure that everything is running smoothly within the Mount and the community. Soller oversees many aspects of the Mount campus, including student affairs, the Grotto, and major institutional offices. Within each of these aspects, Soller tries to focus on the Mountís mission.

The mission, Soller explains, can be thought of as the four pillars of the Mount. The pillars act as a way to remember the mission without having to memorize the whole mission statement itself. The pillars consist of leadership, faith, discovery, and community and they can be found across campus both in writing and within the students and faculty members.

When I asked Soller what he thought it meant to say that someone embodies Mount St. Mary's, his response was that the individual must be "a reflection of our four pillars." He explained that "sometimes a pillar or two may be stronger than another and some may be weaker," but anyone who embodies the Mount will really try to strengthen their weaker pillars and become a "complete package."

I questioned Soller to see if he could recall a past employee of the Mount who most accurately embodied the Mount and he immediately had an answer. Soller mentioned that there are many he could think of, but one person instantly came to mind and that is Tom Kiniry.

Tom Kiniry was the previous Director of Public Safety for Mount St. Maryís. He worked for the Mount for multiple decades. After he retired, the Mount actually asked him to come back and work for a little while during the transition period and he did. Soller reflects on this by saying that Kiniry was "always putting himself on the backburner for others and especially for the Mount community."

According to Soller, Kiniry embodies the Mount because he is an excellent display of the Mountís four pillars. Kiniry "loves community, has great faith, and is terrific in leadership," but Soller continued to explain that "discovery is really what Kiniry is all about."

Kiniry and Soller share multiple values in life but a main one is travel. Both love to go to new places, explore, and discover. Soller personally believes that traveling is the quickest way to learn and he makes an effort to travel whenever possible. Soller mentioned that Kiniry is also this way and stated that Kiniry "has no grass under his feet." Rather, he is always on the move and always going and experiencing various things.

Kiniry taught Soller a lot throughout his career at the Mount. However, the most important thing that Soller has learned from Kiniry is to see different perspectives in every situation. It is easy to see and experience things from our own point of view, but it is when we take the viewpoint of another or expand on our own viewpoint that we are truly able to learn and discover. Kiniry always encouraged others to see the different sides of situations during his time at the Mount and he influenced a lot of people to take on a different view of the world around them.

When I inquired as to if there was a particular memory of Kiniry that stood out to Soller, he replied that his memories of Kiniry were more of a "living thought." Soller elaborated by saying that Kiniry was "always a terrific person to have around. He always wants to help and loves to be helpful." Soller continued by saying that Kiniry is truly a "great individual" who "enriches lives with his presence."

Soller made it evident that the Mount is better for having had Kiniry as part of our staff and that the Mount continues to be better for having Kiniry as part of our larger community. As the Mount continues to grow and adjust to an ever-changing world, it is important that we remember those who have worked hard to pave the path to our success in the future. Soller mentioned that the Mount needs to be "proactive in meeting the challenges of a new century," and to do just that, the Mount must rely on the dedication of the individuals who are employed by the Mount as well as the members of our greater community.

Across campus, across Maryland, across the nation and across the globe, there are individuals who embody the Mount in their thoughts, their words, and their actions. These are people who have been shaped like coins, molded and pressed by the university, by the students, and by the staff. They are people who are appreciative of the Mount for where they have gone in life and are living examples of the Mountís mission statement. They are people who, like Dan Soller, are excited to go to work everyday and are passionate about impacting othersí lives; they are people who, like Tom Kiniry, are always willing to learn, discover, and put others first; they are people who, like us students, are soaking up the experiences like a sponge and being propelled into the future with the gifts the Mount has given them.

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen

Teacher of Teachers

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

Every so often we get the chance to re-evaluate our priorities and think not about the experiences that shape our lives and the places we live in, but the people that enact that change. This week I had the chance to sit down with my dear friend and mentor, Dr. Greg Murry, assistant professor of history at the Mount, and gradually our conversation turned not just to our relationship, but also to the things and people that make up Mount St. Maryís University. More to the point, about the things that make a mentor great. Finally, I gathered up the wherewithal to ask him the simple question: "Who exemplifies the Mount to you?" I suppose the question was simple enough, but the beauty of the human perspective is that everyone sees the world through a different lens, and all manner of people hold the frame to our eyes.

Of all the people who showcase the spirit and character of our university, the one person that Doc (as I affectionately call Dr. Murry) kept coming back to was Dr. Teresa Rupp. A consummate scholar and constant fixture department of the Mountís History Department Dr. Rupp is beloved by both students and teachers alike. However, when I asked Doc about why he thought so highly of her, he gave me three traits that defined his colleague as an exemplar of Mount St. Maryís ideals. Each of these reasons is strong enough to make a person incredible on their own, but the three in combination make Dr. Rupp a paragon of Mount values.

1. Humanistic Breadth

To be a teacher of one subject is commendable, to be a teacher of multiple is admirable, but to bring multiple disciplines together into a seamless whole is a truly phenomenal accomplishment. When Doc and I spoke, the first thing that he mentioned about Dr. Rupp was that her expertise in history pulls as much as it can from a myriad of other places. "In her lessons she lets music inform literature, literature inform art, and art inform history. Itís the way you want your classes set up," Doc put succinctly. In that moment I realized how many times over the past three years I had been in class with Dr. Rupp and she had taken the time to show us a clip of a movie from the 50ís, a snippet of a legal document from the height of the Middle Ages, or a piece of music influenced by our predecessors. Talking about the benefit of a liberal education is nice, but watching a teacher put those ideas into practice and truly integrate a number of disciplines into the classroom was really very humbling.

2. Sheís a Teacher of Teachers.

The second thing that Doc brought up is that Dr. Rupp "is very giving with her time, especially with the other faculty." Itís not just that she takes the time to do her work well, itís that she also takes the time to help others do their tasks well. Thinking back on my own personal experience, I can vouch for her dedication. This summer Doc and I got to work side by side on my senior honorís project, so we would spend a lot of time in Docís "hovel" (as we call his office) working together. As those who know me and Doc personally can attest, when the two of us get excited, we tend to yell. A lot. Despite all of this, Dr. Rupp, who was across from us trying to work, would come over and poke her head in. Instead of scolding us for the noise, she always offered us some insight that we hadnít thought about, or opened up some avenue that we had never considered. Any time she entered the office, we (and our project) were better off for it.

3. She Puts the Students First

While this statement is the trope for every single teacher out there, the fact is that Doc couldnít stress this enough about his friend and peer. The truth is that Dr. Rupp spends the majority of her time looking out for the students that she teaches every single day. "Itís the way that things should be," Doc told me about her teaching style. "You want a teacher who will do that for the people she teaches," he said. And although I possess the gift of using flowery language, the simple truth is that I canít put it any better if I tried. To quote a great movie: "If you build it they will come," and the same thing can be said for the way teachers mold young minds.

While there are so many people who clearly exemplify the spirit of our beautiful campus and home, the one who stood head and shoulders above the rest to Dr. Murry was his comrade and mentor Dr. Rupp. After all the things that we do and the actions of heroism and daring that we seem to be inundated with in our day and age, the dignified work of a teacher can still hold so much weight to one person. And when you think about it, doesnít the example of one person, one teacher, hold some special meaning for us at the Mount? The fact that this place, so driven by example and so focused on learning, can cultivate mentors who go on to instruct others and pass that drive on is incredible. And this is coming from someone who is reaping the benefits of a mentor who has learned from Dr. Rupp. Iím Kyle Ott. Wonít you sit and read for a while?

Read other articles by Kyle Ott

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