Dear Members of the Emmanuel College Community,
When St. Julie Billiart founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1804, she placed education at the center of her congregation’s global apostolic mission. She believed passionately that education has the power to liberate minds, open doors of opportunity, and prepare young people to serve as agents of progress, justice and peace. For these reasons, she said, education is nothing less than “the greatest work on earth.”
Over my more than four decades as President of Emmanuel College, I have experienced an ever-renewing appreciation for St. Julie’s words. To see the faces of our students when they arrive, and then follow them as they develop into people of commitment, conscience and compassion – that is a joy that moves me in my inmost heart.
It is the privilege of my life to collaborate with countless faculty, administrators, staff, students, alumni, peers and friends to advance the vibrancy of Emmanuel’s Catholic educational mission. Our successes are evident on campus in the form of new state-of-the-art buildings, a faculty that has grown in number and distinction, innovative academic programs, expanded student-faculty research opportunities, and a remarkably welcoming and spirited community.
Yet our most vital impact can be seen in the lives of our graduates, women and men who here forged pathways to futures once limited to their dreams. Today they are providing ethical and effective leadership in organizations and communities throughout the country.
Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, I believe it is time for new leadership to build on the momentum of these past decades, and to move Emmanuel forward in its second century. Consequently, after prayerful reflection, and with the blessing of the Board of Trustees, I have made the decision to conclude my presidency in a year’s time.
As members of the Board confer on next steps, I remain focused on our key priorities in the year ahead. A critical imperative is to continue providing a superb liberal arts and sciences educational experience while sustaining tuition affordability. To maintain this balance – more challenging than ever in the time of COVID – we will keep working to evolve our academic offerings to match the demands of the career marketplace, while maximizing contributions to our second century fundraising campaign.
Further, we will communicate the value and distinctiveness of an Emmanuel education to ever-widening circles of prospective students and their families. I myself look forward to proclaiming the great story of Emmanuel College this year and after I leave office – indeed for all my days.
When I was inaugurated President of Emmanuel in 1979, I did not know where that path would lead. I did know that, as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, I was part of a larger mission to make known God’s goodness and to educate young people for life. That dual commitment captured my whole being then, and it continues today. I am so grateful to be doing what I love, and I know that, now as ever, the future is in our name – Emmanuel, our God with us.
Sister Janet Eisner, SNDdeN