Students walk across Le Moyne’s campus, passing Grewen Hall. Originally named the Administration Building, it was dedicated Oct. 10, 1948. After completing the spring 2020 semester through online instruction, students returned to campus in fall 2020, with COVID-19 restrictions in place. By May, about 70% of students had received a COVID-19 vaccination. (Archive photo courtesy Le Moyne College)


By Renée K. Gadoua | Contributing writer


AMDG — St. Ignatius founded the Jesuits Aug. 15, 1534. He urged his followers to “find God in all things” and work “for greater glory of God.” The latter, Ad majorem Dei gloriam (AMDG), is the Jesuits’ motto. The two phrases are often used at Le Moyne and other Jesuit institutions to describe their mission.


At the dedication of Grewen Hall Oct. 10, 1948, were, left to right, Jesuit Father Robert I. Gannon, president of Fordham University; Jesuit Father William Schlaerth, Le Moyne’s second president; and Bishop Walter A. Foery, bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse. At far right is Syracuse Mayor Frank Costello. (Archive photo courtesy Le Moyne College)

Two Le Moyne College students walked out of Grewen Hall, the oldest building on campus, on the first day of finals. “That wasn’t too bad,” one student said. “It was totally fair,” his companion responded.

Outside nearby Nelligan Hall, a female student rolled a cart of belongings around the corner, toward a parking lot. Logan Petralia, a first-year student from Cicero, whizzed down the sidewalk, stopping in front of Nelligan to chat with two women.

Petralia bought the skateboard a few days earlier. “It’s perfect for riding across campus,” he said May 20, two days before the commencement for the Class of 2020, whose senior year was cut short when the COVID-19 pandemic kept students away from campus in mid-March.

COVID-19 restrictions and hybrid classes (part online, part in-person) created a sometimes confusing and frustrating year, said Petralia and Anika Cislo, a first-year nursing student from Amsterdam, New York. They missed socializing with friends. They were disappointed COVID-19 had canceled — for the second year — Dolphy Day, the annual spring party on the quad. And they worried about how isolation and stress affected students.

But these students enjoyed the warm sun on the quiet and nearly empty grounds. With the COVID-19 crisis easing and a difficult academic year ending, they looked forward to their next chapter at the 75-year-old college.

“Having this happen is going to make next year so much better,” said Petralia, a marketing major who swims for the college’s Division II team. “It’s going to be great to have all my friends in my room, to have in-person classes, and to skateboard all over campus.”

Cislo is eager to enjoy more activity on campus. “I hope it’s more lively,” she said. “It will be nice to see more people out and about.”


‘A new world’

The Science Building (left) and Administration Building were completed in 1948. At 75 years, the Le Moyne campus boasted 35 buildings, including seven academic buildings, 16 student residences, two athletic buildings, a veterans house, an alumni house, a chapel, and a Jesuit residence. (Archive photo courtesy Le Moyne College)

Daniel McNeil Jr., who graduated with Le Moyne’s first class in 1951, remembers commuting with his brother, John, a Syracuse University student, from Cortland. He and his brother, a concert pianist, earned money playing in a band. Dan McNeil played percussion.

When Le Moyne moved in 1948 from downtown Syracuse to the Heights, campus “was just two buildings and there wasn’t much around it developed,” McNeil said. Campus now has 35 buildings, including seven academic buildings, 16 residential buildings, and two athletic buildings.

McNeil graduated in a class of 259 who studied eight majors. The Class of 2021 included 589 undergraduates; 650 first-year students have enrolled for fall 2021. Today’s students choose from more than 700 courses in 30 majors. The college introduced its first graduate program, a master’s in business administration, in 1993, and its first doctoral program, an Ed.D. in executive leadership, in 2019.

“It’s a new world,” said McNeil, 98. He is among about 60 surviving members of the Class of 1951.

After graduating from high school in Cortland in 1940, McNeil spent four years of World War II with the U.S. Army in Europe before enrolling at Le Moyne.

“Before the war, I didn’t plan to go to college,” he said. “I had no money. My father went broke in the Depression. I probably wouldn’t have had a chance to go to school without the GI Bill.”

Many of his classmates were World War II vets. “Some of the vets were older than the Jesuit professors,” McNeil said. “Some were married with kids.”

An industrial labor relations major, he is president of McNeil Development Company, which owns and manages commercial property. His son, Dan McNeil III, graduated in 1977; daughter Mary McNeil earned a Le Moyne MBA in 2008; and Dan III’s daughter, Lauren Davis, graduated in 2008.

In 2018, the McNeil family donated $7 million to the college to create an undergraduate major in risk management and insurance. McNeil returned to campus May 15 to receive an honorary degree.


Amazing alums — Le Moyne College grads Dr. Robert Dasher (’69) and Deacon Dr. Robert Fangio (’78) had retired from dentistry. But moved by values instilled back in school, they launched a gratis dental office in Syracuse — earning them each a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Le Moyne. Read more here.


First-generation students

John Langdon, a Utica native who graduated from Le Moyne in 1967, has taught history there since 1971. He and Janice Kurkowski, Class of 1968, married in 1970. A Le Moyne Jesuit presided at their wedding.

Langdon was the first in his family to go to college, and he remembers most of his classmates as first-generation college students.

The college remains “focused on providing upward social mobility and a faith-informed higher education for new generations of students whose families fit this profile,” Le Moyne President Linda LeMura wrote in a recent letter to Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits.

Bishop Walter A. Foery, who led the Syracuse Diocese 1937 to 1970, shared that vision. He also “wanted a Catholic alternative to Syracuse University, a Methodist institution that enrolled many Catholics and whose influence in central New York Foery deplored,” Langdon wrote in “Against the Sky” (1996), a history of the college.

An updated history, “A Beacon to Us All,” will be published this summer. The books’ titles come from Le Moyne’s alma mater.

Bishop Foery “hoped that a Catholic college would serve as a testimony to the Americanism of the Diocese of Syracuse, a demonstration that second- and third-generation Americans of the Catholic faith would take a back seat to no one in their patriotism and loyalty,” Langdon wrote.

Bishop Foery wanted a rigorous, affordable college that would welcome returning World War II vets. He also strongly supported higher education for women, Langdon said.

Local Catholics financially supported the proposed college. A $1 million 1946 campaign raised $1.5 million (more than $20 million in 2021, adjusted for inflation) for the college. Bishop Foery donated $5,000 to the campaign, according to “Faith and Friendship” (David O’Brien, 1987), the diocesan history. A residence hall is named for Bishop Foery.

Initial enrollment further suggests Le Moyne filled a need. “Le Moyne College opens with a freshman class of 450; many applications rejected due to lack of space,” reads a Sept. 11, 1947, Catholic Sun headline.


Cura personalis

A statue of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, stands near Le Moyne’s Panasci Family Chapel. The bronze statue, commissioned in 2015, depicts St. Ignatius venturing into the world. People associated with Jesuit colleges like Le Moyne often cite a quote attributed to St. Ignatius: “Go set the world on fire.” (Archive photo courtesy Le Moyne College)

Le Moyne is the youngest of 27 Jesuit higher education institutions operating in the United States. The first, Georgetown University, was founded in 1789. The first Jesuit school opened (in Messina, Sicily) in 1548, just 14 years after Ignatius of Loyola founded the Jesuit order, according to More than 3,700 Jesuits schools operate worldwide, including 189 colleges and universities.

Jesuit education emphasizes cura personalis, which means caring for the whole person — mind, body, and spirit. Jesuit schools prioritize intellectual development, moral and spiritual growth, service, and justice. Father Pedro Arrupe, Superior General of the Jesuits 1965 to 1983, described the mission of Jesuit education as forming “men and women for others.”

In its mission statement, Le Moyne describes itself as “a diverse learning community that strives for academic excellence in the Catholic and Jesuit tradition.” In practice that means students live, learn, play, pray, and serve together, developing as individuals while building connections that last a lifetime.

“What a Jesuit education honors, above all else, is the sacred nature of each individual,” LeMura said in her 2015 inaugural address. “It honors the unique talents, skills, and potential of each student.”


Congrats, Dolphins — Le Moyne’s Class of 2020 undergraduate commencement ceremonies were held May 22; honors convocation and Baccalaureate Mass were held May 23. Commencement for Classes of 2020 and 2021 graduate programs is May 27 and commencement for Class of 2021 undergraduates is May 28. Look for a continued celebration of Le Moyne’s 75 years, and its newest alums, in next week’s issue of the Sun.


Catholic and diverse

In Langdon’s time on the Heights, most students rode the bus to campus. “The Salt Springs bus came up every 20 minutes,” he remembered. “Campus was dry. Wanda’s was the bar at the foot of the hill. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to walk to Shoppingtown.”

On weekends, students headed downtown, where there were four movie theaters and department stores stayed open until 9 p.m. “It was the place to be,” Langdon said. “There was nothing to do on campus except go to the library.”

Langdon still appreciates the diversity he encountered despite students’ homogenous backgrounds — mostly Catholic, mostly from Central New York, and nearly all white. “For a guy like me it was an education just to talk to these kids,” he said. “You met interesting people with very diverse backgrounds. That hasn’t changed.”

He’s witnessed increasing diversity over the years. He recalls, for example, a class that included a woman who converted to Islam and a native of India who became a Buddhist monk.

Among the estimated 60% of students who disclosed their religious affiliation in 2019, 32% identified as Roman Catholic, according to Joe Della Posta, college spokesperson. Another 14% identified as Protestant; and 13% identified as Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and no religion, he said. Le Moyne’s campus ministry staff includes a Protestant chaplain. A room in the chapel building is set aside for Muslim worship.

Members of the Le Moyne community find quiet in the old chapel in Grewen Hall, circa 1964. The wood carving on the back wall is by Max Schwegler and hangs in the Panasci Family Chapel, which opened in 1994. (Archive photo courtesy Le Moyne College)

“I don’t feel pressure to go to church,” said Petralia, who described himself as “not very religious.” If you don’t go, “they’re still super welcoming,” he said.

In the late 1960s, there were few Black students. Minority enrollment will be 24% next year, Della Posta said.

Increasing racial diversity and confronting racism are central to the college’s mission, according to LeMura, the president.

“You’ll see us talking more about race and race relations and how we can help heal the divisions that come from the scourge of slavery,” she said. “The Catholic Church has a crucial role to play here. And we can’t if we don’t even admit that it [racism] exists.”

LeMura, a graduate of Bishop Grimes Jr./Sr. High School in East Syracuse, was named Le Moyne’s 14th president in 2014. She is Le Moyne’s third lay leader and the first lay woman to lead a U.S. Jesuit college or university.

She sees her appointment as a natural progression from Le Moyne’s founding as the first U.S. Jesuit college to open as co-ed. “I recognize that the path of my leadership will clear a path for other women,” she told a reporter in 2014. “There are significant implications in how I steer this institution.”

Similarly, starting a college that offered a program in industrial relations reflected “the sacred nature of both labor and management and the dignity of work,” she said.

Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical “Rerum Novarum” (Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor) was “embedded in the DNA of the college from its founding,” LeMura said. “That’s a huge part of our history and still guides us to this day.”



Villanova University professor Massimo Faggioli recently wrote for Commonweal magazine about Catholic colleges’ struggles with declining enrollment, competition, and finances. In seeking to address these challenges, “many schools are putting their Catholic identity at risk — namely, by positioning and marketing themselves as part of the mainstream liberal-progressive realm of higher education,” he wrote. Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies who spoke at Le Moyne in October 2019, noted that many Catholic colleges use phrases like “in the Catholic tradition,” “in the Catholic heritage,” or “hiring for mission.”

Le Moyne’s mission statement includes “Catholic,” though a search of its website requires several clicks to find the word. A recent fundraising appeal describes the college as “celebrating 75 years of world-class Jesuit education.” The mailing features Le Moyne’s 75th anniversary logo, with a rendering of Grewen Hall with a cross atop the roof. It includes the phrase “Greatness meets goodness,” but not “Catholic.”

LeMura said Le Moyne moved away from using “Catholic” after the clergy sexual abuse scandal exploded in 2003. “The problem with the sex abuse crisis has really affected every element of everything we do in the Catholic Church,” she said. “We’re absolutely appalled at how that situation was handled.”

She plans to consult with faculty about more clearly marketing Le Moyne as Catholic. “We need to put it in our documentation in a more intentional way, because if we don’t, essentially we’re saying we’re ashamed,” she said.

“If we really want to make a difference in the Catholic Church, we have to admit who we are. We’re a particular part of the church that is really good at grappling with hard things,” she said. “Part of being a Jesuit institution is to serve the church. How do you do that if you don’t even talk about why you’re in existence in the first place?


Catholic values

Jesuit Father Donald Kirby, who attended Le Moyne for a year before joining the Jesuit order, speaks with students. Father Kirby, rector of Le Moyne’s Jesuit Community, has taught religious studies at Le Moyne since 1976. (Archive photo courtesy Le Moyne College

It’s not the first time Le Moyne has debated its Catholic and Jesuit identity, said Jesuit Father Donald Kirby, rector of Le Moyne’s Jesuit community. It was front and center, for example, in the 1970s and 1980s, when the college and the Jesuit community incorporated separately and considered the implications of accepting state funding.

Father Kirby attended Le Moyne for a year before joining the Jesuits in 1960. He has taught religious studies at Le Moyne since 1976.

Adding lay people to the board, hiring lay presidents, and “hiring for mission” are “a natural outgrowth of Vatican II,” he said, noting the Jesuits couldn’t run the college by themselves.

“The values that underpin this institution, the essential values, are values that are very intrinsically Catholic,” he said.

“Issues of human dignity — that’s not just words we throw around here. That’s real. The centrality of the student. This is not a research institution. Freedom of expression and academic freedom. In the classroom I have never thought I couldn’t express myself as freely as I wish.”

There’s no doubt Le Moyne is Catholic, Father Kirby said. “We do believe in the Holy Spirit. We do believe in the incarnation. We try to discern the spirit. We try to read the signs of the times. We make the religious perspective part of the search for the truth.”


Lifelong connections

Le Moyne President Linda LeMura holds a sign May 22 during commencement, expressing her affection and appreciation for the Class of 2020. The sign hung on the fence at her Syracuse home, from which she recorded videos in spring 2020 to encourage students completing the semester through distance learning after COVID-19 closed the campus.
(Le Moyne College photo | Chuck Wainwright)

In the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, Father Kirby used to interview every student he taught. “It told them I was serious,” he said. “It told them I was really concerned about them. I found them very eager to learn. I remember all those kids very clearly.”

Sharon Kinsman Salmon, Class of 1978, enjoyed the concern Father Kirby described. “You know a lot of people are looking out for you,” she said. “Because the classes are small, you got to know the faculty members.”

Kinsman Salmon, a longtime member of Le Moyne’s Board of Trustees and a 2021 honorary degree recipient, remembers Sunday 11 p.m. Mass in St. Mary’s Hall. She loved Dolphy Day. Campus had no separate library or chapel, the performing arts center didn’t exist, and walking between the science and administration buildings was “like walking through a tunnel.”

She’s missed just one class reunion and remains connected with faculty and classmates.

“You just build these relationships that last a lifetime,” she said. “My closest friends today are friends that I met the first few days freshman year.”

Anika Cislo, the first-year nursing student, already has experienced those deep connections. “You meet new people and they’re your little family,” she said.

LeMura loves stories like that, especially after the COVID crisis.

“Our students are not entitled. They’re appreciative. They’re the ones who give me energy,” she said. “We have an amazing faculty. There’s so much to be proud of and we have so many blessings. We’re blessed.”

Renée K. Gadoua, a frequent contributor to the Sun, is a Le Moyne College graduate. Follow her on Twitter @ReneeKGadoua.


Le Moyne timeline

1654: Jesuit Father Simon Le Moyne (1604-65), a French missionary who would become the college’s namesake, visits an Onondaga village in what is now Manlius. “I baptized some little skeletons who, perhaps, were only waiting for this drop of the precious blood of Jesus Christ,” Father Le Moyne wrote in “The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents,” a collection of contemporaneous records of missionary activities from 1610 to 1701. By the 1990s, some students, professors and Haudenosaunee leaders would raise questions about how to remember the Jesuits — as spiritual heroes or colonizers guilty of stealing land and disrespecting Native culture.

1941: Bishop Walter A. Foery (1937-1970), fifth bishop of the diocese, invites the Jesuits of New York to establish a college in Syracuse. The college would be the country’s 27th Jesuit college and the first to open as a co-educational institution.

1945: Syracuse resident William R. Cahill gives the diocese 13 acres on the south side of Salt Springs Road. Bishop Foery buys the 103-acre Gifford Farm, owned by Rosamund Gifford’s family, for $50,000 and sells it to the Jesuits for the same price. He sells the Cahill parcel for $12,000, creating the 116-acre site soon known as the Heights. The college’s master plan for 13 to 20 buildings includes an administration building, science building, student union, six dormitories, a dining hall, faculty residence, chapel, library and gymnasium. In 2020 there would be 35 buildings.

Jan. 20, 1946: The diocese begins a fundraising campaign that raises $1.5 million in one week — $500,000 more than its goal. In a radio address about the campaign, Bishop Foery said Le Moyne would provide the city of Syracuse a “truly American school with religion and morality as the foundation stones.”

February 1946: Le Moyne opens with offices at the former Huntington Club near the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse. The building is dubbed Le Moyne Hall and houses the school’s first headquarters and the School of Industrial Relations. Tuition is $350 a year, and 379 students are enrolled, 40 of them women.

1946: The college’s first president, the Rev. Anthony J. Bleicher, arrives in Syracuse and receives the charter from the New York State Board of Regents to operate a college. The first board of trustees — all clergy — is named.

April 26, 1946: The Jesuit community moves into the former Edwards’ mansion at 953 James St. The Jesuits bought the house, including furnishings, for $33,829.

July 1946: Excavation begins for the first building, the Administration Building, now known as Grewen Hall.

1947: Bishop Foery lays the cornerstone of the Administration Building on Sept. 8. With construction delayed, Le Moyne rents the 930 James St. home of the late Judge Frank Hiscock. Classes are held at the house, now known as the Barnes-Hiscock House.

1948: Classes move to the Heights on June 11. The Administration Building (now Grewen Hall)  and Science Building (now the Coyne Science Center) are dedicated on Oct. 10.

June 10, 1951: The first class, 259 students, graduates at the state Fairgrounds. More than 4,000 people attend the ceremony. In 2021, about 60 from that class would be alive.

May 1955: The first dormitory, Nelligan Hall, is completed, housing 137 men and six prefects. Enrollment is 1,208. By 1964, 600 students, including 200 women, would live on campus.

1956: The first women’s housing opens two blocks from campus, in a house the college purchased. Twenty-eight women and a housemother live at Mother Cabrini Hall.

1957: Jesuit community moves to the completed Loyola Hall. The residence, which accommodated about 40 Jesuits, would be at capacity in the 1960s and 1970s. A new Loyola Jesuit Residence was built in 1990 to house the smaller Jesuit community. Loyola would be renamed Mitchell Hall and house the Madden School of Business and student housing.

1960-1961: Building projects include Henninger Athletic Center, named after former Syracuse Mayor Anthony A. Henninger; a second men’s dormitory, Dablon Hall; a women’s dormitory, St. Mary’s Hall; and a dining center.

Feb. 5, 1962: The first basketball game is played. Former boxing champion Carmen Basilio of Canastota is director of physical education. In the 1980s, the college would gain a reputation in Division I baseball. Thirty-four baseball players sign professional contracts, and four players make it to the major leagues. In 2009, Le Moyne’s men’s basketball team would beat Syracuse University’s Orange, 82-79, in a Nov. 3 exhibition game. In 2021, the college would field 21 intercollegiate teams. In spring 2021, the men’s lacrosse team played in the NCAA Division II national championship game for the 10th time. On May 23, the team advanced to the finals after beating Mercyhurst, 11-9. They were to take on Lenoir-Rhyne University on May 30. The women’s lacrosse team won its first national championship in 2018. The 2021 team was ranked No. 3 in Division II with a 13-1 season. The 2021 men’s golf team won the NE-10 Conference Championship.

1963: Seven Jesuits start International House (IH), a service learning experience inspired by the Catholic Worker movement, Christian social action, and Ignatian spirituality. Founders include the poet and peace activist Jesuit priest Daniel J. Berrigan, whose family lived in Syracuse. He taught religion at Le Moyne 1957 to 1963. IH would operate until 2004, although its faith-based activism and service would continue through campus ministry and other organizations.

1963: Several students and faculty participate in the March on Washington for civil rights. About 10% of students join a Syracuse rally when an urban renewal project displaces 900 Black families on the city’s East Side. About 75 people are arrested, including one Le Moyne student. Students would later participate in vigils and protests about current issues, including opposition to the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, and apartheid in South Africa.

1966: Vatican II ends, spurring changes in curriculum and liturgical practices. More lay people took leadership roles and the number of Jesuits on campus began to decline.

1967: Alcoholic beverages are allowed on campus. The college pub, The Rathskeller, would open in Foery Hall’s basement in 1969. The legal drinking age in New York was 18 until 1982, when it would be raised to 19. The state’s legal drinking age would become 21 in 1986. The dress code would relax in the 1970s: women could wear pants and seniors no longer wore black robes.

1968: Bishop Foery distances himself from Le Moyne after criticizing the college for its commencement speaker, Dr. William H. Lazareth, dean of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, who said the Church’s mission should focus more on social justice than on divine theology. Therelationship between the college and the Syracuse bishop would warm again under the leadership of Bishop David Cunningham.

1970: Tuition is $1,700 a year; room and board is $1,070. Enrollment hits 1,546, including five Black students. In 1995, tuition would be $11,700; room and board would be $5,040.

1970: The college and Le Moyne’s Jesuit community incorporate as separate entities. Lay people outnumber Jesuits on the Board of Trustees.

1971: The English department begins using an abandoned firehouse, bought from the Syracuse Fire Department for $1, as its theater. The building would become the Firehouse Theater. The W. Carroll Coyne Center for the Performing Arts would open in 1998.

1971: Students celebrate the first Dolphy Day, which grew into an annual festival typically celebrated on a warm, spring day. The origin of the celebration’s name is attributed to the college’s mascot, a dolphin, and Eric Dolphy, a jazz musician. The pandemic would nix Dolphy Day 2020 and 2021.

1980: Board of Trustees decides to apply for New York state funding. The funding, known as Bundy money for the 1967 Bundy Commission that established it, was available to private institutions — but not those controlled by religious organizations that taught doctrine of a particular denomination. Debate over Bundy money led to discussions about the college’s Catholic and Jesuit identity. By the mid-1970s the college and Le Moyne’s Jesuit community were incorporated separately; two-thirds of the board of trustees were lay people; and the theology department had been renamed the department of religious studies, and students were no longer required to study Catholic theology. Le Moyne would first receive Bundy money in 1982.

1981: Construction of the Noreen Reale Falcone Library completed. The facility replaced the former library on the lower two floors of the Administration Building. One former library floor would become the Dolphin Den, which served food and, at night, beer.

1988: Jesuit Father Donald Kirby establishes The Values Program, which strives to integrate the ideas taught in the classroom with real issues, such as ethics and war and peace. The program would continue for 18 years.

1989: Town houses are built as residences for 147 upper-class students. Campus stops leasing apartments in nearby Springfield Gardens.

1990: Pope John Paul II issues Ex corde Ecclesiae on Catholic higher education and its relationship to the church and the local bishop. Faculties at some Catholic institutions feared Ex corde would require “loyalty oaths” to the Church. Le Moyne’s president, Father Charles Beirne, downplayed the document’s impact, saying, “It’s between the individual and the local bishop.”

1993: The college introduces its first graduate program, a master’s in business administration. In 1995 it would introduce master’s degree programs in education. In 1996, the college would begin a physician’s assistant program. In 2019, it launched its first doctoral program, an Ed.D. in executive leadership.

1994: The Panasci Family Chapel is completed, replacing the chapel in Grewen Hall. The dining hall is renovated and enlarged.

1996: Tuition is $12,390. Enrollment is 2,166 full- and part-time undergraduates. Sixty-two are Black; 76 are Hispanic. Eighty-seven students are full-time graduate students.

2001: Le Moyne College collaborates with Zogby International on Contemporary Catholic Trends, a long-term, nationwide survey of American Catholic attitudes. 1970 graduate John Zogby, then a member of the college’s board of trustees, is president and CEO of Zogby International. The project would continue until 2009.

2002: The Boston Globe publishes series revealing a pattern of clergy sexual abuse of minors and a widespread culture of cover-up, spurring two decades of allegations of abuse, investigations, and lawsuits that shocked and angered many Catholics. The USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus in January 2019 would release a report that acknowledged three Jesuit priests who ministered at Syracuse’s Christ the King Retreat House have credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors against them.

2007: John Smarrelli, a Syracuse native and Le Moyne graduate, is named interim president, Le Moyne’s first lay leader. In 2009, trustees would name Fred Pestello the college’s 13th president and the first permanent lay president. Pestello would serve until 2014.

2008: The estate of Robert and Catherine McDevitt leaves $50 million to Le Moyne, the college’s largest gift to date. The donation more than doubles Le Moyne’s endowment and is among the four largest gifts ever to Jesuit colleges in the United States. The Binghamton couple, who both died in 2008, did not attend Le Moyne. Robert McDevitt was a cousin of Father Edward L. McDevitt, one of the first Jesuits to serve Le Moyne. The McDevitts also leave $30 million to the Syracuse Diocese and three Southern Tier parishes.

2012: The Science Building is renovated and expanded, and renamed the Coyne Science Center. It was one of several projects, including construction of the Le Moyne Plaza and a multi-use turf field at the athletic center. Madden School of Business becomes Le Moyne’s first named school.

2014: Syracuse native and Bishop Grimes graduate Linda LeMura is named Le Moyne’s 14th president, the first lay woman to lead a U.S. Jesuit institution.

April 30, 2016: Father Berrigan, likely the most admired and reviled Jesuit connected with Le Moyne, dies nine days short of his 95th birthday.

2018: Onondaga Nation faithkeeper Oren Lyons accepts an honorary degree on behalf of all Haudenosaunee people. The Haudenosaunee flag flies on campus for the first time at commencement. It was also the first time a college official stated, “We honor the Onondaga Nation, the indigenous people on whose land Le Moyne College stands.”

March 2020: College extends spring break as COVID-19 pandemic closes schools and businesses worldwide. The college would offer the remainder of the semester’s instruction online and return in fall 2020 for hybrid courses and health restrictions that included masking and frequent testing.

Spring 2021: The pandemic scraps most 75th anniversary celebration plans. The college holds a virtual toast Feb. 18 to celebrate the anniversary. Always Forward: The 75th Anniversary Campaign for Le Moyne, which ends May 31, has exceed its goal. With a $100 million goal for 2014-2021, the campaign will support a strategic plan developed in 2015. The campaign’s name is “sempre avanti,” an expression Pope Francis often uses.

75 years of growth

1951: 259
2021: 589

Buildings on campus
1951: 2
2021: 35

Student residences
1951: 0
2021: 16

1951: 8
2021: 30 undergraduate majors as well as master’s programs,
one doctoral program, and certificate programs

Female students
1951: 60
2020: 61%

Religious identity
1951: Overwhelmingly Catholic
2019: 32% Catholic; 14% Protestant; 13% other,
including no religion (Most recent data available.)

Jesuits serving Le Moyne
1951: 4
2021: 13

Alumni facts
Total alumni: 35,000, including undergraduates and graduates
Living alumni: 20,428
Alumni living in New York: 72%
Alumni living in US Northeast/
Mid-Atlantic: 81%
Alumni living in NYC Metro area: 41%
Alumni clergy and religious: 60

Legacy families: More than 1,200, including 235 families
with a student currently enrolled. There are also 78 families in
which members of three generations attended Le Moyne.


  Compiled by Renée K. Gadoua from Le Moyne College website and documents; “Against the Sky” (1996) by John Langdon; local history and newspaper archives; and interviews.


This story has been updated to correct two items: Anika Cislo’s hometown is Amsterdam, not Amherst. The college’s theology department was renamed the department of religious studies, not the department of religious education.

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