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First Trustees

Selected Profiles


By Sister Martha Counihan, OSU, College Archivist

The first Trustees of CNR were well known Catholic and Irish laymen. Lawyer, William H. Buckley of Albany, was one of the most active members. It was Buckley who advised and assisted Mother Irene in the process of applying for a charter for the College of St. Angela, acting as a go-between with the New York State Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education. Buckley was a friend and admirer of Mother Irene’s older sister, Mother Philomena, a Sister of Mercy and director of St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, who had introduced Buckley to Mother Irene.

Edward J. McGuire, a New York lawyer was likewise a long-time friend and advisor to Mother Irene and the nascent College. McGuire was in constant communication with Mother Irene and served for over thirty years as a Trustee, Secretary of the Board, and friend of the College. His correspondence to her in the College Archives is an invaluable source of information about the founding years.

The first and long-time Chair of the Board of Trustees was Adrian Iselin, Jr., son of the wealthy banking family of Adrian Iselin, Sr. Iselin, Jr. had purchased the vacant Leland Castle in 1882 and sold it to the Ursulines in 1897 after he had developed the former estate into Residence Park. Son of a Catholic mother (Eleanora O’Donnell of Baltimore) and a Protestant father, Iselin, Jr. like several of his siblings, was a generous benefactor of the Catholic Church. At the occasion of the College’s Silver Jubilee in 1929, he forgave the remaining debt on the Castle.

Educator and one-time neighbor, Nelson Hume, founder of the Hume School in New Rochelle, and later, the Canterbury School in New Milford, Ct. was a helpful friend and advisor to the College for many years. His sister, Dorothy Hume ’15, and niece Dr. Joan Carson ‘43 were graduates of CNR. Hume served as a trustee from 1909-1948.

Former lawyer and editor of Bradstreet’s Weekly, John J. Greene, trustee, served as Vice President of the New York City Board of Education and was also an instructor at Columbia University. Greene served as a CNR trustee from 1910 until his death in 1942, serving as vice president, then President of the Board. Greene’s wife had been a student at St. Teresa’s on Henry Street. Two of their daughters were students of CNR.

CNR adjunct professor, physician, and historian, Dr. James Walsh, and adjunct professor, editor, and journalist, Conde Pallen, LL.D. both served as CNR trustees in the first decades of the College. They generously gave their time and expertise as lecturers to the students, professors, and trustees.

Many of the CNR Trustees of the first quarter of the College’s History were listed in the 1911 edition of The American Catholic Who’s Who: lawyer John Agar of New Rochelle, patron of the arts (and donor of a large painting to CNR), politician, orator and lawyer William Bourke Cockran; journalist Robert Joseph Collier; capitalist and philanthropist John D. Crimmins; New York State Senator and Supreme Court Justice Victor J. Dowling; New York State Supreme Court Justice Martin J. Keogh of New Rochelle; New York Stock Exchange and Board of Education member William Lummis; New York State Supreme Court Justice Morgan J. O’Brien; New York Board of Regents member Eugene A. Philbin;  New York State politician William F. Sheehan; historian and attorney Andrew J. Shipman.  Many of these men were founders or members of the Catholic Club, a powerful lay organization formed at the end of the nineteenth century to promote and defend Catholic values which were being attacked by the American Protective Society (A.P.A.) and other anti-immigrant/anti-Catholic groups.

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College Archivist, Sister Martha Counihan, OSU has deep roots here at CNR. Her grandmother and great-aunt were graduates of CNR in 1911. Her mother, several aunts and cousins, are also alumnae. Sr. Martha herself is a graduate of CNR, Class of 1967; she has a master’s degree in Art History from the University of Delaware and did her thesis on the architectural history of Leland Castle, which led her back to CNR as Archivist in 1976. Several years after receiving her M.S. in Library Service from Columbia University, Sr. Martha went to Latin America and engaged in pastoral ministry there. She returned to the United States in 1993 and served as a chaplain in the NYC area. In 2001, Sr. Martha returned to CNR as Archivist and Special Collections Librarian.

 


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