Honors Program’s Lifelong Impact Hailed at Convocation
Providence, R.I.--A companion for a lifetime.
That’s how Patrick J. O’Malley, Esq. ’93 described Providence College’s Liberal Arts Honors Program when he returned to his alma mater recently to give keynote remarks at the 17th annual Liberal Arts Honors Convocation.
“My experiences at Providence College and in the Honors Program changed my life,” said O’Malley, who presented the convocation’s Distinguished Alumnus Address to an audience of approximately 140 students, faculty, alumni, and friends in Slavin Center ’64 Hall.
“They have remained with me as I have traveled throughout the years,” continued O’Malley, who moved back to Europe in 2000 and currently lives in Italy. “[The Honors Program] is, in a sense, always with you. It’s your mindful companion. What you experience here will be with you; this is just the beginning.”
O’Malley, who has taught a graduate course in international business and capital markets law at PC for several summers, is an international corporate and securities lawyer in the United States and England. He also is an adjunct professor in comparative law matters at the Universita’ Commerciale L. Bocconi in Milan, the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, and at least a dozen other universities, companies, and professional legal/business training organizations around Europe and the U.S. He also teaches occasionally in Africa and Central Asia.
He was introduced by classmate Dr. James M. Ludes ’93, the executive director of the Claiborne Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. Ludes gave the Distinguished Alumnus Address at the 2009 Liberal Arts Convocation.
Prior to O’Malley’s address, the guests were welcomed by two other graduates of the Honors Program--College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 and John J. Partridge, Esq. ’61 & ’11Hon., chair of the program’s Leadership Council. The master of ceremonies was Dr. Stephen J. Lynch, professor of English and Honors Program director.
Father Shanley called the Honors Program “the crown jewel” of a Providence College education. He said a constant of the program is discourse … specifically, that of students and faculty sitting around tables like the famed Woodrow Wilson seminar table that has accommodated generations of Honors students. He does that in his own philosophy classes he teaches, he said.
“Learning doesn’t stop. It keeps on burning. Tonight, we celebrate that legacy,” said Father Shanley.
Partridge, whose longtime fundraising for the program and influence as Leadership Council chair were praised by Lynch, underscored the strong, ongoing alumni support for the Honors Program and its students. He pointed out there are more than 2,400 program graduates, many of whom have helped increase funding for the program for several years now.
A rich learning environment
In his keynote remarks, O’Malley relived his undergraduate days in the Honors Program, saying his education was defined by the Development of Western Civilization (DWC) curriculum. He recalled being in Civ classes with brilliant, yet humble, students, who represented multiple majors and were “wonderful companions.” They sat with professors in small groups in what he called “an ideal learning community.”
With professors like the late Dr. Rodney K. Delasanta ’53, a longtime program director, and the late Dr. Rene E. Fortin ’55, the program was the basis of “a very high-level, world-class education,” said O’Malley, whose father, Dr. Paul F. O’Malley ’60, is an assistant professor of history at PC.
The Honors DWC experience ultimately taught O’Malley that his professional work “must involve something more transcendental, some way in which you contribute … to the greater good.” He credited his legal career and passion for teaching to Honors Civ, noting he has had to “bridge the gap” between two legal systems: those of the U.S. (Anglo-American-based common law) and of Europe (Roman-based civil law).
Honors Civ instilled in him the ability to reason, discuss, and argue--all pivotal attributes in his profession--and “a deep sense about who we are as a society,” said O’Malley. It also inspired him to learn about other civilizations on an ongoing basis.
Saying that Honors Civ taught him that “knowledge is a priceless gift” bestowed by God, O’Malley circled back to his initial message of companionship.
“What starts in Honors Civ around that Woodrow Wilson table sets in motion a never-ending process of learning in life through work and study,” he said, emphasizing that DWC is essential “to understanding the entire world we live in.”
“Honors Civ is ultimately an urgent call to action and personal responsibility for a very talented group of students and alumni, made by a truly gifted group of teachers,” he concluded.
Top student awards presented
Another highlight of the convocation was the presentation of the Rodney K. Delasanta Award and the Rev. Paul van K. Thomson Award. The late professors served as Honors Program directors, and Father Thomson was a co-founder of the program in 1957.
The Delasanta Award recognizes the best paper composed by a first-year student in Honors Civ. This year’s recipient was Laura J. Wells ’14 (Poughquag, N.Y.), a mathematics major with a minor in music. Her essay was entitled “Nature of Evil: Seed, Growth, Fruit.”
The Thomson Award, presented in the junior year to the most outstanding student from the previous four-semester DWC curriculum, was bestowed on Eliza R. Mandzik ’13 (Burlington, Conn.), a double major in music and political science.
--Charles C. Joyce