By Minqi Kong
At a time when St. Michael’s College is undergoing budget concerns and the likelihood of declining enrollment, the Board of Trustees has appointed a new chair– Rev. Marcel Rainville, S.S.E. from the class of 1967.
Around campus he’s better known as Father Marcel, and many students know him as the coordinator of LEAP spiritual retreats. In his new role, he will also oversee the 26 member board. They act as caretakers that help us to get another view of how Saint Michael’s is able to move forward, Rainville said in a recent interview in his office on the second floor of Alliot. The room is small, with a book shelf, computer, and a sofa, and it looks out to trees near the chapel.
One duty of the board of trustees is to approve a budget for the upcoming year to help raise money for the college. Trustees often become major benefactors and they work with the rest of the faculty and staff, Rainville said. For instance, there is a learning committee to gather information about the particular needs of the college. There is also another committee called “Operation Embodied” that works with the administration in overseeing the financial well being of the college.
“June is important,” said Rainville. “By then we will know how many students are coming to St. Michael’s next year. Many budgetary concerns will be addressed after May 1, the deadline for enrollment. That will shed light upon some of the more important decisions that need to be made.”
One pressing issue facing the board is that the number of new students who will come to Saint Michael’s has been decreasing every year. “The major reason for the declining number of students is that there are many fewer students of college age particularly in the northeast after 2008,” Rainville said. “The economic recession caused parents to have fewer children, which is the ultimate reason why there are fewer students applying, so with the enrollment, the admissions here at Saint Michael’s is working very, very hard to get more students to come,” Rainville said.
The board of trustees will have a dialogue with the admission department about recruiting more students. In person, Rainville himself will be visiting a school in Connecticut at the end of March. He has a sister there who is a nun who used to live in a home that was recently sold to a man who started a special high school for foreign students to learn English. “We need to learn if some of their students would be interested in coming to Saint Michael’s College to learn English,” Rainville said.
He said he will also be available as a support to the president of the college to help her be successful in her job. Rainville will also continue as part of Saint Michael’s College Edmundite Campus Ministry. Most recently he worked with students to offer a LEAP spiritual retreat in late February at Saint Anne’s Shrine where 50 students joined him.. “There is no time conflict between the meeting of the trustees and the retreat, because the meeting of the trustees will be two weeks from now,” Rainville said. “I felt a very heavy responsibility,” Rainville said when he learned of the new appointment. “ I will do my best and we will work hard for the best possible future for Saint Michael’s College.”