Charter Day Marks a Moment in History
On April 29, the St. Francis College (SFC) community gathered to celebrate the 138th anniversary of the College’s charter.
It all began in 1858, when a group of Franciscan Brothers opened St. Francis Academy, the first boys’ Catholic school in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Then, on May 8, 1884, the New York State Legislature granted a charter to the trustees of St. Francis Academy to “establish a literary college in the City of Brooklyn under the title of St. Francis College, with the same powers to confer diploma and literary honors possessed by universities and colleges of New York State.” The first Bachelor of Arts degree was conferred in 1885, and the first Bachelor of Science degree followed in 1892.
Each year, Charter Day convocation marks a time to commemorate the past, celebrate the present and look to the future. This year’s Charter Day provided a moment to reflect, as it was the final such day at the 180 Remsen Street address, to which the College moved in 1963. In addition to in-person attendees at Founders Hall auditorium, the event was streamed live.
“In the 21st century, St. Francis College has its largest enrollment and is the most diverse it has ever been while still maintaining our most important mission, handed down to us from the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn at the beginning: a values-driven education that produces service-oriented leaders of tomorrow,” said Dr. Jennifer Lancaster, Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. “Today, we continue our journey as we celebrate our final Charter Day here at 180 Remsen.”
President Miguel Martinez-Saenz, Ph.D., described it as an emotional day. “As we celebrate achievement, as we wonder about the changes before us, we come to really think prayerfully about the gifts that we have,” he said.
Among the honorees on Charter Day were the new and honorary inductees to the Duns Scotus Honor Society, installed in 1935 at the College’s Butler Street campus. From 1963 to the present day, only about 850 members of the SFC community have been inducted.
Other honorees on Charter Day included recipients of the Pax et Bonum medal for 15 years of dedicated service as a faculty member, the Pax et Bonum medal for 25 years of decided service as a faculty member, the President’s Award for 15 years of dedicated service as an administrator or staff member, and the President’s Award for 25 years of dedicated service as an administrator or staff member.
The featured speaker was SFC Board of Trustees member Arkell Cox, owner of three IHOP restaurants — with one (on Livingston Street) being among the most successful in the country — and IHOP franchise developer. The Brooklyn resident is also co-founder and vice-president of HERStory Lifestyles, which empowers women in need and survivors of abuse.
“We have gifts, talents and abilities,” noted Cox, who said sometimes those gifts are buried because people don’t know what to do with them. “Manifestation is such an important part of our daily walk.”
The first time Cox attended an event at St. Francis College, she was moved by how she was greeted by the students. While she was no stranger to SFC, having had family members attend, walking into the building and being met with such positive attitudes moved her. She felt a connection to the College and wanted to share her story and help students build their legacies.
“Our gifts start within us if we start to learn the manifestations,” Cox said. “I knew this was a place I wanted to give my service. We need to take time to think about when there’s something inside of you pulling at you. Don’t ignore it; that is your gift.”
The Department of Management and Information Technology and the Center for Entrepreneurship honored Cox with the Entrepreneurship Award.