PAST CNR PRESIDENTS
Rev. Michael Carthage
was born in Lismore, Ireland and came to New York to study for the
He was ordained a priest in 1868. O’Farrell was a gifted businessman
fund raiser and always had a great interest in education. He built
and churches in the several parishes in which he served. In 1876
pastor of St. Teresa’s parish on the Lower East Side of Manhattan,
he met the Ursulines. Seeing their skill and preparation as teachers,
encouraged them in their various educational endeavors and to
themselves in 1880. In 1897, he helped Mother Irene Gill, foundress of
College, to acquire Leland Castle. When Mother Irene Gill started the
College of St. Angela in 1904, Father O’Farrell was named its first
President and ably represented the College’s needs to its trustees. He
died in 1918. O’Farrell was remembered as well-regarded by all with
foresight, fine administrative skills, approachability, and a keen
sense of humor. O’Farrell served as President of CNR from 1904 until
his death in 1918.
Rev. Msgr. Joseph F.
Msgr. Joseph F. Mooney was born in Pennsylvania
from Fordham University in 1867
then entered the priesthood. Ordained in 1871, he soon was named
of philosophy for the New York Archdiocesan Seminary in Yonkers. In
1890 he was appointed pastor of
Heart parish in Manhattan where he served until his death. Sacred Heart
then one of New York’s largest parishes, and Mooney’s affection for his
and its large school led him to refuse being named a bishop elsewhere.
was an eloquent preacher and was often asked to give public addresses.
stern appearance concealed what was said be a kind heart, especially
the children of his parish. Mooney was asked to undertake many
for the Archdiocese of New York and accepted the presidency of CNR in
old age. He, like the other presidents who were priests, was assigned
by the cardinal and did his best to be present for Founder’s Day,
and meetings of the Board of Trustees. Msgr. Mooney served as President
1918 until his death in 1923.
Rev. Msgr. John P. Chidwick
Rt. Rev. Msgr. John P. Chidwick
was born in New York City. After
receiving a B.A. and M.A. from Manhattan College,
he entered the seminary and was ordained in 1887. Several years later,
was appointed a Navy chaplain and was assigned to the battleship, Maine.
Chidwick had a special concern for young people especially the young
on board his ship. At the time of the Spanish American War in 1898,
harbored in Havana, the Maine
was blown up and chaos reigned as the ship
burned. Chidwick refused to abandon the ship so he could tend to the
burned and dying sailors. The huge ship sank minutes after he
Library has a bronze statue dedicated to Chidwick by “his kids” as a
of their gratitude to their brave chaplain. Chidwick retired from the
in 1903 and resumed parish duties before being named President of St.
Seminary. From 1922 until his death, he was pastor of St. Agnes Church
Manhattan. Chidwick was named CNR’s third President in 1924. An avid
historian, Msgr. Chidwick had a large private library which he left to
CNR in his
In a Christmas letter to Mother Ignatius, the Dean, he relates his
listening to the radio debates of CNR students with other colleges. One
the impression that Chidwick’s interest in the “kids” of the US Navy
to include the young ladies of CNR. He was President of CNR until
his memory and honor, the College’s first gymnasium building was
Rev. Msgr. Cornelius F.
Born in Manhattan, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Cornelius F. Crowley, S.T.L.
received a B.A. from Manhattan College
studying for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1894 and then studied
The Catholic University of America for a licentiate in sacred theology.
in several parishes of the Archdiocese of New York, in 1913 he was
of Blessed Sacrament Church in New Rochelle, a close neighbor
CNR. Under his leadership, he built a large parochial school, staffed
the Ursulines. The proximity of CNR to Blessed Sacrament Church and his
of the Ursulines enabled Crowley to have a good sense of the needs of
College. Members of the Sociology Department and Sodality led different
among the children of the parochial school. In an interview with a CNR
in the College’s Alumnae News, he lamented the effects of the
on employment opportunities and advocated social work as a good course
study, noting the many social ills prevalent at the time. He urged CNR
to be leaders. Named as President of CNR in 1935, he and the Board of
endorsed the construction of Gill Library in the midst of the
Crowley held several positions of responsibility within the
of New York in addition to his responsibility for New Rochelle’s
Catholic parish and parochial school. He died at the age of 67 in 1937
only two years as CNR’s President.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis W. Walsh, V.F.
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis W. Walsh, V.F. was born in
Newport, Rhode Island
and was ordained in the Archdiocese of New York in
1915. His first assignment as a priest was assistant to Father Michael
CNR’s first President. With the outbreak of World War I, Walsh
as a chaplain and served in France. Suffering from the ill effects of
gassed during the war, he moved to Colorado to recover his health. He
broadcasting by radio as a way to reach the Catholics in sparsely
areas of the west. Walsh returned to New York and was named CNR’s
President in 1938. In welcoming him, the Dean, Mother Thomas Aquinas O’
mentioned her happiness that he had been a professor and, like
majors at CNR, had experience in broadcasting. In his first address to
students, he stressed the gift of the Ursuline tradition in the
of women. Walsh was a faithful presence on campus (several
were alumnae), and he enjoyed good rapport with students and faculty.
his papers in the College Archives is the draft of a stern telegram he
to President Truman decrying the huge loss of human life as a result of
two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. Walsh served as President
from 1938 to 1949 and
urged Cardinal Spellman to have Ursulines serve as CNR’s presidents.
Walsh died in 1973.
Mother M. Dorothea (Katherine) Dunkerley, O.S.U. '19
Mother Dorothea (Katherine) Dunkerley,
O.S.U. '19 was born in Texas,
graduated from the Ursuline Academy in Dallas, and
then from The College of New Rochelle with a degree in English in 1919.
to Texas to teach for several years before coming east to join
in New Rochelle. She joined the CNR faculty in 1929 and received a M.A.
Fordham University and Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America
majoring in psychology and educational administration. Her dissertation
was on Leadership Among College
Women. After serving as assistant dean and dean, Mother Dorothea became
first woman president in 1950. During her tenure, she oversaw the
celebration of the
semi-centennial, strengthened the curriculum of CNR, and actively
in fundraising. She served on the Board of Trustees for 35 years and
in leadership in the Community of St. Teresa’s. After ending her
as President, she became director of institutional research. She was a
of an honorary degree from Fordham University and the Veritas Award for
at CNR. In her retirement, Sister Dorothea (the Ursulines changed their
to “Sister” in 1966) continued to remain in contact with the many CNR
whose lives she had touched. At her death, one wrote to the Ursulines,
was my rock, my island of serenity...for 48 years.” She died in 1982.
Mother Mary Peter (Margaret) Carthy, O.S.U. '33
Born in Manhattan, the leadership abilities of Mother Mary Peter (Margaret) Carthy, O.S.U. '33 were evident during her college years. After graduating from CNR in the midst of the Depression, she worked in the registrar’s office at Columbia University for several years, before joining the Ursulines in 1937. In 1941, she began her CNR service as assistant to the registrar and a teacher in the History Department. Mother Mary Peter received two M.A.’s (CUA and Notre Dame) and a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America where she forged a lifelong friendship with her mentor, Monsignor John Tracy Ellis, the country’s best known historian of the American Catholic Church. She replaced Mother Dorothea as dean of the College in 1950 and became President in 1957. An intelligent, talented, gracious, and kind person, the new president endeared herself to all. Mother Mary Peter oversaw the hiring of well qualified faculty, the establishment of the Core Curriculum, and the great increase of prestigious academic awards to CNR graduates. During her presidency, Angela Hall and Xavier Memorial Fine Arts & Administration (now Mooney) building were completed. CNR’s first honorary degree was given to African Cardinal Rugambwa in 1961. Leaving CNR in 1961, she became an editor of The Catholic Encyclopedia and associate professor at the University of Maryland. Sister Margaret returned to CNR in 1975 as the Dean of the Graduate School until 1979. She was the author of several books about the early history of the Church in New York. At her funeral in 1992, one of those she mentored, Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, reflected: “Margaret’s capacity for deep, enduring friendships enriched the lives of many of us: former students, women she came in touch with over the years, colleagues…”
Mother St. John (Jessie Elizabeth) O’Brien, O.S.U. '34
the Bronx, Mother St. John (Jessie
Elizabeth) O’Brien, O.S.U. '34 lived
most of her life in New Rochelle.
A commuter student like her Ursuline predecessor and two successors,
was a student leader, a kind friend to many, and participated in many
activities. She taught primary school for a few years after graduating
CNR in 1934. As an Ursuline, she returned to her alma mater to
and also served as director (dean) of students from 1942 to 1952. She
from Fordham University and an honorary degree from Iona College. Her
gifts led to her being appointed to various positions of leadership
the Ursulines. She served as prioress of the St. Teresa’s Community,
of novices and temporarily professed Sisters, assistant provincial,
of Ursuline education worldwide. She was appointed President of CNR in
and served as such for two years; the decade of the 1960’s would
change CNR, the Ursulines, and the Church. Ursula Hall was completed
her presidency. Mother St. John met challenges of running the college,
convent, training young women to be Ursulines in a time of immense
change with a twinkle in her eye and equanimity that sprang from deep
and love for all. For the last years of her life, now known as Sister
she continued to guide many persons as a spiritual director. Her time
service as President at CNR was relatively short, but the spiritual
she provided to her Ursuline Sisters over her almost 98 years of life
to sustain them. Sister Elizabeth died in 2011.
Mother Mary Robert (Teresa) Falls, O.S.U. '33
After teaching in elementary and
high school for several years after
profession as an Ursuline, Mother
Mary Robert (Teresa) Falls, O.S.U.
'33 joined the CNR English Department
where her love for Renaissance literature was generously shared with
students. She received a M.A. and Ph.D. in English from The Catholic
University of America.
For several years she served as director of the Ursuline House of
mentoring young Ursulines in their undergraduate and graduate studies.
1963, a year after she returned to CNR as director of institutional
and Trustee of the College, she was elected President. In her first
as President, Martin Luther King’s March on Washington fortified the
Rights Movement, JFK was assassinated, the War on Poverty began, and
first sessions of Vatican II were calling for reform in the Church,
and national funding were denied to CNR, and the College’s deficit
The consciousness of many American college students was being awakened
challenged. The President and the faculty strove to keep students aware
and participating in the deep social changes that the times demanded.
Vietnam War and the shooting of students at Kent State University were
issues. And Mother Mary Robert (soon returning to her own name, Teresa)
the faculty endeavored to listen to students’ concerns, remain open to
and to invite them to serve on study groups and college committees.
Teresa developed a remarkable resilience in addressing the serious
that the times presented. During her presidency, the Rogick Life
Building was completed, named for the late Dr. Mary Dora Rogick, CNR
scholar and professor. After serving as President from 1963 to 1970,
Teresa volunteered to serve in the Congo and at a teacher training
in Botswana with other Ursulines. Diagnosed with a serious illness she
returned to the United States and served as provincial secretary until
her death in 1979.
Joseph P. McMurray
Coming to CNR after
having served as president of Queens College
six years, Joseph P. McMurray
was the first layman to be elected
President of CNR.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brooklyn College, he did graduate studies
the New School and had previously served as Chair of the Federal Home
Bank Board, Commissioner of Housing for New York State, and economic
and staff director of the US Senate Banking and Currency Committee.
his economic expertise, McMurray was seen a good candidate for the
of CNR at a time when a growing deficit severely challenged the
He was the recipient of several honorary degrees: Iona College, The
College of The Holy Cross,
University, University of Tampa, and American International College. A
of CNR’s Board of Trustees since 1966, the Board elected McMurray to
of CNR in 1970. Until he was able to assume the office in 1971, the
dean, Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, served as president pro tem. As
McMurray immediately addressed the College’s financial exigencies and
in reducing the debt, acquiring NY State Bundy funding, enlarging the
of the Graduate Program, and laying the ground for the School of New
He implemented difficult decisions regarding retirement, denied funding
various educational projects, and raised tuition. Assuming the
at a time of enormous social turmoil in American colleges, McMurray
needed transition from an in loco parentis style of student services to
that placed more responsibility upon the individual student. His door
open to students, faculty, staff, and alumnae, and he invited dialog
all entities in facing the issues that would resolve CNR’s economic
and result in a new life for the College. McMurray resigned in
1972. He died in 2001.
Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, O.S.U. '51
Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, O.S.U. '51 was a
from the Bronx on a full scholarship,
and she quickly became a student leader at CNR. Soon after her
Ursuline and having obtained a M.A. in American Church History from The
University of America, she began teaching history at CNR in 1957. Her
skills were already evident to the Ursuline presidents. As CNR academic
dean from 1967 to 1972, she welcomed the arrival of a group of local
on scholarships and worked with faculty and students to redesign the
In 1970 she received a doctorate in American intellectual history from
University of Notre Dame. The Board of Trustees elected her president
the resignation of her predecessor in 1972, and she set to work on
serious ongoing issues of CNR’s declining enrollment and deficit. The
Program became the Graduate School and the “Experimental College,”
by several faculty members was named the School of New Resources.
a few years, the innovative School of New Resources had grown to
six area campuses. The School of Nursing was added in 1976, and the
was redesigned into four Schools, each with its own dean. Soon after,
restructuring created four vice presidencies. In addition to
local, state, and national higher educational associations, Sister
Ann worked well with alumnae, keeping them informed of changes
and the rationale
for the changes from a small Catholic women’s college composed
of young women of European descent to a large multiracial and
coeducational institution with the School of Arts and Sciences
women only (the “college” alumnae through the 1960’s remembered).The
increased as gifts and grants were received, and the School of New
received international and national attention. With access to higher
a major goal of CNR’s Mission, Sister Dorothy Ann found ways to make
education she had received a reality for thousands more. After serving
President for 25 years, she resigned in 1997 and served as Chancellor
2001 when the Ursuline community asked her to assume leadership
As her term as Provincial Prioress of the Eastern Province drew to an
she died suddenly in 2009. Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly is remembered as
(after Mother Irene Gill) of The College of New Rochelle.
Stephen J. Sweeny
joined The College of New Rochelle’s administration in 1976 as
to the Provost. Over his 35 years of service at CNR, he assumed
greater responsibilities and from 1981 to 1997 he served as Senior Vice
of Academic Affairs. In 1997 he succeeded Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly as
During his 14-year tenure, Sweeny oversaw material,
planning advancements. The Co-op City campus of SNR was relocated
to a new
facility in 1997, and in 2000, the South Bronx campus of SNR was
and named for John Cardinal O’Connor. Gill Library’s renovation and
was completed in 2002. He led the College in celebrating its Centennial
2003-2004 and saw donations to the College reach its highest level
A long awaited Wellness Center was completed and dedicated in 2008.
was honored by many higher educational and Catholic organizations, and
endeavored to maintain the Catholic identity of CNR as a priority by
trustee groups to Italy to experience the locations from where the
came into being and creating the Office of Mission and Identity
A lecturer at Harvard University’s annual program for new college
Sweeny lent his expertise to that group and also served on numerous
States’ evaluation teams. With his vice presidents, planning became a
to maintain the educational and fiscal health of CNR. When Sweeny
in 2011, the Student Campus Center was renamed in his honor, the Sweeny
Center. Sweeny was an astute administrator, generous with the wisdom he
gained during his years at CNR, and very mindful of keeping alive the
of the College.
Archivist/Special Collections Librarian, Gill Library
Photos courtesy of CNR Archives
The first Catholic college for women in New York State, The College of New Rochelle was founded in 1904 by the Ursuline Order. Today, it comprises the all-women School of Arts & Sciences, and three schools which admit women and men: the School of New Resources (for adult learners), the School of Nursing and the Graduate School. The main campus of the College is located in lower Westchester County, 16 miles north of New York City. The College maintains five other campus locations in New York City. Visit the College’s website at www.cnr.edu..