Fallon ’94 Talks about Award-Winning Book at Liberal Arts Honors Convocation
Siobhan Fallon ’94, whose first book of fiction won national awards, returned to Providence College for the Liberal Arts Honors Convocation and Dinner, discussing how she discovered her love for writing as a student in the honors program.
Fallon, author of You Know When the Men are Gone (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam 2011), gave the Distinguished Alumnus Address at the program’s 18th annual convocation, held in Slavin Center ’64 Hall before about 140 students, alumni, faculty, and guests.
“When I look back, I remember how the professors here demanded excellence of their students, but more importantly, they taught us to demand excellence of ourselves,” said Fallon. “That is the greatest gift of the honors program, and that will stay with all of you forever.”
Another highlight of the evening was the announcement by the program’s Leadership Council of three new programs to benefit students, including one that will match them with alumni mentors around the country.
Since its founding by John J. Partridge, Esq. ’61 & ’11Hon., the Leadership Council has raised money to make it possible for honors students to attend performances at Trinity Repertory Company and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, and to help pay for the annual Spring Break trip to Europe.
Michael M. Woody ’77 & ’84G, vice president of the Leadership Council, explained the new initiatives:
• The establishment of a fund that will pay a faculty member to assist students in applying for prestigious scholarships, such as Fulbright and Rhodes scholarships, making more and better research opportunities available to students.
• The creation of a national mentoring program that will pair students with honors program alumni around the country. The fund will pay travel and lodging expenses for the students.
• The hosting of a “top-notch” academic conference every three years to bring speakers from across the nation to PC to discuss an issue related to the students’ studies in the Honors Development of Western Civilization Program (DWC).
“We believe that Providence College cannot continue to be one of the country’s premier liberal arts colleges unless its Liberal Arts Honors Program is world class,” said Woody.
“We hope to move very quickly” on the new initiatives, said Woody, who encouraged students and alumni to follow the Liberal Arts Honors Program on Facebook.
Student awards presented
Two juniors and two sophomores were recognized for their work in Honors DWC.
Ekaterina Protsenko ’14 (Newington, Conn.) and Matthew Santos ’14 (Cumberland, R.I.) shared the Rev. Paul van K. Thomson Award, which is presented to the best student to complete the two-year Honors DWC Program.
Francis Rowland ’15 (Cromwell, Conn.) and Vincent Whalen ’15 (Eatontown, N.J.) shared the Rodney K. Delasanta Award, given for the best essay in freshman Honors DWC.
Fallon was introduced by Dr. Richard J. Grace ’62, professor of history. Her book, You Know When the Men are Gone, is a collection of fiction stories about the families of Fort Hood, Texas, during an Army brigade’s deployment to Iraq. Fallon lived at Ford Hood during her husband’s two deployments.
Among other honors, the book received the 2012 PEN Center USA Literacy Award for fiction and a 2012 Indies Choice Book Award from the American Booksellers Association. Fallon also discussed the work on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air.
In her talk, Fallon discussed how she entered PC as a biology major, changed to English literature after a course with Dr. Anthony M. Esolen, professor of English, and realized her love of fiction writing during a non-fiction course with Dr. Stephen J. Lynch, professor of English and honors program director.
Assigned to interview someone, Fallon interviewed Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty “on the pressures and pitfalls of being beautiful in modern America.”
“Somehow Dr. Lynch knew I was in the wrong class, but he saw my potential, and he knew how to foster it,” Fallon said. “Thanks to his class, I knew fiction was my true love.”
Fallon said she was especially influenced by Rev. Robert J. Randall, who taught for more than 25 years in the Department of English, the DWC Program, and the Liberal Arts Honors Program. The College’s first endowed chair, the Rev. Robert Randall Distinguished Professorship in Christian Culture, is named for him.
After Fallon’s book was published, she sent a copy to Father Randall, who responded, “You’re no Flannery O’Connor, but you just might be on the right track.”
“Which, for those of you who have taken Father Randall, is pretty high praise from him!” said Fallon.
— Vicki-Ann Downing
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