Friends, family, and staff reflect on the man who makes them ask, “What would Lou do?”
By Mirando Maiorino
“Who Loves Ya,” “It’s All Good,” and “More to come…”are a mere handful of the unmistakable sayings, or Lou-isms, as students and faculty call it, of Lou DiMasi, St. Michael’s College’s Director of Resident Life. After nearly 39 years of working on campus, DiMasi will retire in December. True to his modest form, Dimasi declined to speak to reporters about his tenure at the college. Nonetheless, his legacy has touched the hearts of his co-workers, students, and family.
“Growing up in Somerville, MA, my dad could always be found out at the park shooting pucks or any game he could get his hands on. He even played professional for three years after being a standout player at Norwich University,” said Margaret DiMasi, resident director of Canterbury Hall. “Lou created the hockey program back at St. Mike’s back in 1982, only two years after he first came to St. Michael’s College. He was the hockey coach here for 25 years, and still holds the only Division II National Championship Title.” DiMasi would later become a resident director, and eventually be promoted to his current title of Director of Resident Life, where he helps students work through residential issues such as roommate disagreements, alcohol and drug problems, and future housing selection anxieties. While known as very stern in his disciplinary actions, DiMAsi often says “There’s no bad kids, only bad decisions,”aiding students without casting judgement on their character.
“I knew right away that Lou was the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back,” wrote Megan Ohler, director of residential operations & systems and Associate Dean of Students who started at the college in 1995. “I’ve gone from being supervised by Lou, to working beside him as a colleague. From day one, I heard the philosophy he lives by, ‘there are no bad kids, only kids who make bad decisions’ and I knew he was all about meeting students – anyone actually – where they were at without judgment and inspiring them to be better than they thought they could ever be.”
Ohler said she feels more people should know about DiMasi’s “compassionate soul.”
“There isn’t a day in Student Life where Lou doesn’t have a zillion situations going on … but when you’re the one sitting in front of him, you would never know that. When you talk to Lou, you are his priority. You can feel his sincerity and concern for any individual in his words as well as his actions. There is nothing he wouldn’t do to help you to get to the next point in your life.”
“When I came to the school, Lou was one of the first people I met as an incoming first year,” said Liam Cahill, ‘20. “He knew that I was probably nervous and anxious about starting this next chapter of my life, so to help he gave me his card with his personal phone number on it. I know that this was a small gesture but it meant so much to me to know that someone was looking out for me. Lou always had that ability to make light of tough situations and make students feel at ease.”
Brian Lee, Assistant Dean of Students since 2001 has worked with DiMasi for almost two decades. “He always reminds us, ‘You know, we’re here for the students. What can we do to make their days better and their experience the best it can be?’ We are all supposed to work our hardest in order to benefit the student,” said Lee, “Every morning, no matter how busy the office is or how much he’s running around, he always takes the time to stop and say ‘Hey, how are you?’ or ‘How are things going, honestly?’ to students. He’ll always take the time to check in on them despite his incredible work ethic, and that has to be one of the things I’ll always take with me when moving forward in my career.”
With his eyes staring up at his office light as he reminisces about his friend and mentor, Lee finally concludes with a smile, “While work is work and it needs to be done, Lou always cares about the person first, and always focuses on them first before anything else, which to me is really something to be admired. ”
To many, DiMasi seems dedicated to St. Michael’s College on all playing fields, whether that be hockey, residence, or the students themselves. Even family, as some would say. According to his daughter, DiMasi has accepted St. Michael’s as his own family like that of his own flesh and blood. “I think seeing what the community St. Mike’s is and always being a part of it has been through my dad. It’s always been a goal of mine to work in Res Life and assist students in any way I could, all while learning anything I could first hand from Lou.”
Margaret DiMasi said that her father is someone who loves people and the connections he makes. “St. Mike’s has been a true home for him over the past 39 years, and even now there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t ask myself ‘…what would Lou do?’
Even though DiMasi will leave St. Mike’s for good, purple and gold still run through his veins. Megan Ohler notes, “He’ll still be living right down the road, so we’re almost positive he’ll occasionally stop by for a coffee or lunch,” Ohler said.