Mount community celebrates its 60th by walking in the footsteps of the founders

October 31, 2019

More than 100 members of the Mount community – including current students, faculty, staff, and alumni – honored the founding Dominican Sisters on October 30 by mirroring their first walk from the waterfront into the heart of Newburgh.


With the pillars of study, spirituality, service, and community guiding them, the Dominican Sisters of Newburgh established Mount Saint Mary College as a four-year institution on October 30, 1959.


Sixty years later, on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, more than 100 members of the Mount community honored the sisters and celebrated the college’s rich history with the Founders Walk, a 1.5 mile trek from the Newburgh Waterfront back to campus.


The weather couldn’t have been more perfect as the walk took participants up Water Street and down Powell Avenue, back to the college.


Before the walk, Dr. Jason N. Adsit, president of the Mount, recognized the Dominican Sisters for their dedication to the college’s success.


“We cannot thank our Dominican Sisters enough, not only for all the work they put in to found this awesome institution, but for the continued support and engagement they have for all that we do,” said Dr. Adsit. “We rededicate ourselves in this 60th year of the college, to make sure that every day, we wake up and walk the path of the Dominican tradition.”


The founding Dominican Sisters first arrived in Newburgh at the waterfront in April of 1883, explained Sr. Catherine Walsh, OP, professor emerita of Communications.


“Without them knowing it, they were about to build a legacy of education so much larger than they could ever imagine,” said Sr. Walsh. “They took their first step into a walk we would be celebrating 136 years later.”


At the request of the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Newburgh, the Dominican Sisters opened Mount Saint Mary Academy, just off of Gidney Avenue. This would become Mount Saint Mary College as we know it today.


“As you walk, you have big shoes to fill,” noted Sr. Walsh. “Let this be a walk of gratitude and may it be a walk of commitment, as each of us pledges to not only to be grateful for the gift we have received, but also that each of us will deepen her or his commitment to walk the walk of those values that set the sisters on the path to creating Mount Saint Mary College.”


After a blessing by Fr. Gregoire Fluet, campus chaplain and director of Campus Ministry, members of the college’s choir sang the Mount’s Alma Mater, which was co-written by the college’s longest serving professor, James Finn Cotter. Cotter, a professor of English, has served the Mount for more than 50 years. He was in attendance at the ceremony.


The walk ended back on campus at the Guzman Hall lawn, where participants enjoyed a birthday-style reception. The Dominican Sisters in attendance were presented with a framed photo of the college, signed by faculty, staff, and students.


After six decades and more than 18,000 graduates, the Mount continues its rich tradition of academic excellence and dedication to service. The four pillars of Dominican life are still as integral to the Mount experience as they were 60 years ago.


Honoring the Dominican Heritage of the college, Dr. Adsit’s vision for the Mount’s future is a comprehensive, institution-wide commitment to service-learning and community engagement. Students, faculty, and staff will participate in a broad array of high-impact practices related to service-learning across the entire institution. Professors will develop service-learning components within all academic programs, the college will increase meaningful connections with additional local service organizations, students will be given opportunities to engage in study abroad trips with a strong service component, and more.