Fine Arts West Dedicated to Terrence Toland, S.J., the University's 23rd President
Members of the Jesuit Community, university students, faculty, and staff gathered on November 8 to recognize one of their own—Terrence Toland, S.J., the University’s 23rd President—by naming the former Fine Arts West building on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus in his honor.
The dedication celebrated how the Jesuit Community’s leadership, guidance and ideals have helped define the future of the University, and thanked the Jesuit Community for being one of the earliest and most generous supporters of the most recent capital campaign, With Faith and Strength to Dare: The Campaign for Saint Joseph’s University.
“We are deeply appreciative of the kindness of the Jesuit Community. Their leadership and support guide us as we continue moving forward as a University,” said William Madges, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.
| The ceremonial ribbon is cut by (from left) Dean Madges, Fr. Toland, Fr. Gillespie, Fr. Rashford, and Fr. Genovesi
The ceremony, however, almost didn’t come about. True to his humble nature, Fr. Toland hesitated in accepting such public recognition of his many accomplishments advancing the University and Catholic, Jesuit education. Only with the urging of the Jesuit Community did he graciously allow for the former Fine Arts West building to bear his name.
Fr. Toland spent most of his life as a theology teacher and educational administrator devoted to the wellbeing and effectiveness of Catholic higher education on a national scale. During his tenure as University President, he oversaw Saint Joseph’s transition to a fully coeducational institution and the construction of LaFarge Hall, a six-story, high-rise residence hall. The Office of Campus Ministry and the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations also were established under his leadership.
Toland Hall will be home to painting studios, the University’s art collection, and its archives—a fitting tribute to the man who established the first building dedicated to arts education, Boland Hall, and who built the foundation that allowed the growth of that program into two thriving departments of the arts, said University President C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J., ’72.
This setting will enable faculty in the Art Department, led by Dennis McNally, S.J., to focus more intently on helping students discover their creative potential and develop an awareness of lasting cultural traditions, said Dean Madges.
The space also will contain the Saint Joseph’s University Press, renowned for publishing richly made, well-reviewed books focusing on the early modern Catholicism and the visual arts, Jesuit studies and regional studies. It has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including one from the National Endowment of Art through its Cultural Heritage/Preservation Program.
The University’s art collection housed in this building “forms a teaching collection which is used by the faculty to introduce students to art and connoisseurship,” said Curator Carmen Croce ’71. It’s also where his team builds the collection through gifts and purchasing; catalogs, preserves and restores great works; and plans the display of exhibits in the John and Maryanne Hennings Post Learning Commons.
“It is an honor to be working in a building named for the man who served as my mentor for so many years and had such a formative influence on my life and work,” said Croce, who was a student during Fr. Toland’s presidency and later became a friend and colleague. Writing to classmates with an envelope addressed from Toland Hall “is not only a thrill for me but other people who were here at that time."
Also in Toland Hall are the offices of the University’s Facility Management staff which, under the leadership of Kevin Robinson, vice president for Administrative Services, as well as Robert Convery and John Miller, maintains the Maguire Campus’s building and grounds.
“What does this mean for the campus as a whole? I would argue that this isn’t a step forward, but it is a leap,” said Honors Student Sequoia Collier-Hezel ’15. Toland Hall’s focus on the artistic community will help enliven the souls of Saint Joseph's University students. Taken together with the new academic and athletic facilities nearby on the Maguire Campus, it embodies cura personalis, or care for the whole person.
For Fr. Gillespie, the dedication ceremony proved an opportunity to honor the man who embodied that ideal while presiding over the university during his education. He remembered Fr. Toland having a dialogue with first year students to solicit their ideas in their first weeks on campus, holding mass to give students hope during the Vietnam War, and sending money to support his service learning trip to Columbia, South America.
“You were a model of how a Jesuit education does make a difference,” Fr. Gillespie told him.
Before cutting the ribbon to ceremoniously dedicate the building, Fr. Toland expressed gratitude for the honor bestowed upon him. “I don’t do compliments well—it might be the Irish in me—but thank you, thank you,” Fr. Toland said. “I want to say thank you to each of you.”
He went on to envision Toland Hall’s future as a center for poetry and painting, and requested that the students working there and elsewhere at Saint Joseph’s University remain open to the many possibilities of a Jesuit education. “The fine art of wanting to learn more—I think that is a future worth having.”