Sister Janet Eisner, SNDdeN has been the longest currently serving female president of a college in the United States and, with a 43-year tenure, the longest current serving president of a Catholic college or university.
On May 14th, Emmanuel College celebrated a milestone 100th Commencement, conferring more than 500 degrees on its bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates.
The College also bestowed honorary degrees upon Dr. Maura Hagan ’75, a nationally recognized space physicist, and Sister Janet, in honor of her historic tenure as President of the College. Sister Janet was also formally named President Emerita, as she steps down from her role.
Reading the citation for Sister Janet, Senior Vice President and Treasurer Sister Anne Mary Donovan, SNDdeN, reflected, “In four-plus decades you have provided a master class in leadership that has been praised throughout American higher education, as well as by prominent figures in government, business and the Church.
“Sister Janet, in a word, you are Emmanuel. What is more, you are a living sign that Emmanuel, our God with us, continues to work in and through the mission, values and people of this College. For your grand and historic presidency, and for the moving example of your faith-filled life, Emmanuel College today is profoundly honored to confer on you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.”
Sister Janet then addressed the graduates, encouraging them to enter this new chapter of their lives with fondness for the memories and lessons they learned during their time at Emmanuel. She remarked, “What advice can I give you? Let me frame it this way. In 2018, you came here to be in Boston, be inspired and be in demand. Each of these “Be-s” you have fulfilled brilliantly. Today, and for the rest of your lives, I urge you to embrace three additional “Be-s”. Be together, be compassionate and be bold.”
Later she reflected, “I mentioned earlier that I remember so much about my decades-long Emmanuel journey. After I leave the presidency, I hope to take time to write down some of those stories. The experiences I have had here are a source of indescribable joy for me. Not only the visible successes, but also the faces, the personalities, the laughter, and the moments of worship and quiet prayer in the Chapel. Above all, it has been the privilege of my life to watch generations of promising young people like you grow in maturity, ability, conscience and commitment. It is days like today when I rejoice in my vocation and proclaim, with St. Julie, that education is indeed ‘the greatest work on earth.’”
Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Thomas J. Hynes then officially bestowed the title of President Emerita upon Sr. Janet.
A Mass honoring Sister Janet was held on Saturday, June 4. Watch the recording below:
Portions of this article quoted "100th Commencement and Honors President Sr. Janet Eisner, SNDdeN" published on May 17, 2022.