Forty Years Later, Flanagan Takes a New Step
“St. Michael’s College is part of my DNA, it’s a part of who I am,” vice president of admissions Jerry Flanagan said.
With the recent news of Flanagan’s retirement comes the end of 40 years of work. Flanagan who graduated from St. Michael’s in 1971, has worked for the school since 1973, when he accepted the role of assistant dean of students. The transition to his current position came in 1975.
At the conclusion of the 2012-2013 school year, Flanagan will step down from his position, which he describes as “a labor of love,” and join the college’s institutional advancement team in January, 2014, after a sixth month sabbatical.
“It’s not the end,” Flanagan said. “It’s just a change.”
Since his employment with St. Michael’s began, Flanagan has written acceptance letters to 80 percent of alumni. “I was a little taken aback by this statistic,” Flanagan said. “I hadn’t thought about it in that way.”
Carrie Pratt, ’09, assistant director of admissions still remembers the personal touch Flanagan wrote on her acceptance letter in a “P.S. note.” Pratt has been employed full time by St. Michael’s College as an admissions counselor since 2010, but her work with Flanagan began in 2006 after her freshman year, when she worked as summer help with the Admissions Office.
“Jerry has been a big supporter of me from the time that I was very young until now,” Pratt said.
Pratt cited the personal attention Flanagan pays towards the various relationships he has with the people in his life.
“Everything that he really cares about, he puts his whole heart into,” Pratt said. “He exhibits a level of care about the people he works with, those that work for him and his family as well.”
Jacqueline Murphy, ’74, director of admissions, has worked with Flanagan since 1976. Her work with him began when she was a graduate student, and worked as a resident assistant.
Murphy noted that the pair has had their ups and downs, expected over such a long relationship.
“We’ve always worked as a team, and we’ve had mostly successes,” Murphy said.
In Murphy’s professional career, Flanagan is the sole person she has ever worked for.
“We are colleagues, but we have known each other forever,” Murphy said. “He’s been a wonderful person to work for because he fosters growth in people, but he has given me the space I needed to get things done.”
Throughout Flanagan’s years in admissions, the process has transformed radically. The idea of online applications and the common app were unthought-of 40 years ago. Flanagan has adapted to these changes, as well as the transformation that the St. Michael’s College campus has underwent.
“It keeps me young in a sense,” Flanagan said. “To be connected with young people and see the enthusiasm, and the excitement about their experience here, and what they’re going to contribute.”
The pleasure he finds working on a college campus reflects in the growth students undergo during their time at school. “When the new students arrive, I get to meet them personally,” Flanagan said. “Shake their hands and reassure them it’s going to be okay. Four years later I get to sit in the front row, and see those students walk across the stage with smiles on their faces, knowing that they came, they enjoyed, and now they’re leaving.”
Matt Connolly, ’13, has worked in admissions since he was a first-year, when he joined the Founder’s Society. This past summer he served as an intern in the admissions office.
“It was really great having the opportunity to see and work with Jerry each day,” Connolly said. “He was always so down-to-earth, so approachable, always asking if I was having a good time and checking in on me and the other interns.”
The upcoming months present a challenge to St. Michael’s College to find a suitable candidate to fill Flanagan’s shoes.
“No one is irreplaceable, we all know that,” Murphy said. “But I do think that some people do leave a bigger call when they leave, and this is one. This was clearly not just a job, it was a vocation.”
While the St. Michael’s College admissions office has some changes to grow accustomed to at the close of the year, Flanagan’s message remains present.
“If that’s the message I leave,” Flanagan said. “That we all have the responsibility to keep this the best institution we possibly can, by just doing your part and spreading the good news, I will have succeeded in my goal. That’s all I really hope for.”