Office of the President: Brother Michael McGinniss, F.S.C.
Biographies of the Presidents

Brother Michael McGinniss (1999 to present)
“My aunt used to say, when I was a child and we’d ride together on the No. 26 trolley past the façade of College Hall, that some day I would go to school in that building.” Brother Michael McGinniss F.S.C., '70, did just that, and rose to its presidency. Highlights of his terms thus far include academic collaboration with Gwynedd-Mercy College, increased enrollment figures, crafting and implementing a strategic plan, observing La Salle’s 140th anniversary (2003), building of new residence hall and dining facility (2005), implementation of a major gift initiative to fund a new science and technology center and increase the endowment for scholarships, and expansion of La Salle's Bucks County Center in Newtown, Pa.

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Mr. Nicholas Giordano (Interim President, 1998-1999)
Mr. Giordano, born in Philadelphia, was in the right place at the right time when his alma mater (Class of 1965) called. A former president of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, he became the interim leader of La Salle when Brother Michael McGinniss was unable to move to Philadelphia from his Memphis position (president of Christian Brothers University) for one year. Mr. Giordano presided over the Tom Gola Arena dedication and the inaugural President’s Cup Golf Tournament. A most pleasant surprise was when the student yearbook, Explorer, dedicated its 1999 edition to him.

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Brother Joseph Burke (1992-1998)
Philadelphia’s Brother Joseph Burke, F.S.C., was the first “baby-boomer” (born in post-war years) and also the first modern-day graduate of La Salle (1968) to occupy the president’s chair. He created the Communication Center, reversed sagging enrollment figures, renovated theHayman Center, inaugurated the Bucks County Center, advanced the athletic program, increased the endowment, and began La Salle’s first doctoral program (psychology). “He’s been teaching by example all along,” editorialized the Philadelphia Inquirer when he returned to the classroom after his six years at the helm.

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Brother Patrick Ellis (1977-1992)
He was La Salle’s president longer than anyone, witnessing—and creating—much of its history. Baltimore-born Brother Patrick Ellis, F.S.C., attained university status for La Salle (1984), expanded academic programs (especially master’s degrees), and led its 125th anniversary events (1988). Friendships with benefactors produced the Connelly Library. New residence halls and a dining facility were built during his tenure. Br. Patrick energetically doubled the size of the campus with the purchase of the Belfield, St. Basil’s, and Good Shepherd properties. Possessing and mastering various Renaissance traits, he has been in demand for writing, painting, singing, and “verbal panache“ skills. Br. Patrick also served as President of the Catholic University of America (1992-1998). Throughout his time in administration, Br. Patrick continued to teach part-time his signature courses in criticism and Shakespeare.

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Brother Daniel Burke (1969-1976)
With his calm disposition—punctuated by an occasional commentary (“Ohh??!!”)—Brother Daniel Burke, F.S.C., a Pittsburgher, mirrors the best of a scholar and leader. In a volatile era when college presidents were “targets or tyrants,” a contemporary observed, “Brother Daniel declined either role.” He introduced full coeducation (1970), the Weekend College and Continuing Education for Women programs, the Urban Center, and new academic offerings, while completing Hayman Hall and Olney Hall. After his presidency, he developed a fledgling study art collection into an art museum that is one of the best of its size and scope in the area.

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Brother Daniel Bernian (1958-1969)
He has been described as the one who “ushered in the era of the modern day president at La Salle.” A Baltimorean, Br. Daniel presided over the school’s 1963 Centennial and enlarged the landscape with a completed student union, a new science building (later named Holroyd Hall), new residence halls, and the planning for Hayman and Olney Halls. In the spirit of inclusivity, he facilitated lay colleagues becoming vice presidents, coeducation commencing in the Evening Division, and the creation of a Faculty Senate, La Salle-in-Europe, and the Summer Music Theater.

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Brother Erminus Stanislaus (1952-1958)
Br. Stanislaus was a Pennsylvania upstater with leadership experience. He reorganized La Salle’s internal structure, a process begun by his predecessor. Br. Stanislaus arranged academic offerings into a School of Arts and Sciences, a School of Business Administration, and the Evening College. The new library opened in 1952, followed by two new residence halls, and a student union was planned. A personal thrill came with his welcoming home La Salle’s 1954 NCAA men's basketball champions, led by Tom Gola.

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Brother Gregorian Paul (1945-1952)
Called out of a chemistry lab in November 1945 and informed that he would assume the presidency in a few days, Br. Paul had little time to prepare. A Philadelphian, he capably dealt with the resurging post-war enrollment under the G. I. Bill. Persistent shortages of space were met by adding Leonard Hall, Benilde Hall, rooms beneath McCarthy Stadium, and the first two residence halls. With a mind “designed like a jeweler’s scale,” Br. Paul reveled in frequent on-site inspections of building projects, such as a new library. La Salle arranged its evening offerings into a degree-granting curriculum in 1946 and introduced its first master’s degree program (religion) in 1950.

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Brother Dominic Luke (1945)
Amazingly, Br. Luke served for a period of time shorter than La Salle's founding President, Br. Teliow—only two months. Born in Connecticut and raised in New Jersey, he became president in September 1945. He was compelled to resign in November for reasons of health. The official announcement was delayed—ironically—until a testimonial dinner at a major hotel, which had originally been planned as his welcome. In later years, he directed two Christian Brothers’ high schools.

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Brother Emilian James (1941-1945)
The first New Jersey native to hold the post, Br. James’ years coincided with America’s involvement in World War II. La Salle’s collegiate population dropped to only 90 because of wartime drafts and enlistments. At a time when some colleges were turning over their facilities for special Armed Forces units, Br. James promised to keep La Salle intact “even if the faculty has the students outnumbered 35 to one.” Afterwards, he became Provincial of the Baltimore Province.

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Brother Edwin Anselm (1932-1941)
Tight-fisted, indefatigable, prayerful. Br. Anselm transcended the sum of his parts. A native upstater, he built up La Salle’s enrollment and added McCarthy Stadium and McShain Hall. Br. Anselm managed to save the school from potential foreclosure during the bleak 1930s largely through “a knack for negotiations laced with cajolery.” After his La Salle years, he returned to guide West Catholic—where he is still held in high esteem—for the second time as its principal. A statue to the Sacred Heart, in his memory, has fittingly graced La Salle’s Olney Hall since 1999.

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Brother Elzear Alfred (1928-1932)
With his distinguished Vandyke beard, many first-time acquaintances incorrectly thought he was born in Vienna or Paris. Instead, Br. Alfred was a Philadelphian, surnamed Kelly. He oversaw the long-awaited move of La Salle’s high schoolers from 1240 North Broad to Olney Avenue in September 1929, with the collegians arriving in February 1930. La Salle had a new home, but it was just in time for the Great Depression. With the plummeting value of the “1240” property, Br. Alfred held a struggling La Salle together during tough times, but his health declined due to the stress.

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Brother Dorotheus Lewis (1925-1928)
“This doesn’t look like the most important College in the (Baltimore) District!” These words of the Superior General of the Christian Brothers regarding “1240” during his visit to La Salle (1925) motivated Irish-born Br. Dorotheus to take action. Ten acres at 20th Street and Olney Avenue were purchased in 1926. Donning full academic cap and gown, he wielded a groundbreaking shovel in 1928, with 100 students gathered around him in a historic photograph. Br. Dorotheus, however, was transferred to another assignment during the construction.

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Brother Galbert Lucian (1922-1925)
They affectionately nicknamed him “Gabby,” and he did not disappoint. A contemporary observed that Br. Lucian, who was born in Ireland, “was never known for his silence[,] but he was a great source of fun…to all his Brothers.” He also had a serious side. As President, he deplored La Salle’s cramped facilities and articulated the need to expand. The resolution of the Latin Question (1923) yielded an increase in collegiate applicants, but they could not all be accommodated. He was given another assignment before definite expansion plans could be drawn.

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Brother Ennodius Richard (1917-1922)
Born into a large and nurturing family in Ireland, with two of his own brothers becoming well-known Christian Brothers, Br. Richard applied his own education to productive service. He attained—at the age of 34 —a bachelor’s degree from La Salle, and just three years later became the President of his alma mater (the first president-alumnus). Br. Richard’s tenure faced major challenges. World War I resulted in the higher classes almost closing because of diminishing enrollment, and La Salle was denied Middle States accreditation after the war.

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Brother Denis Edward (1911-1917)
Few Christian Brothers reach their 90th year, or count five directorships in their resume. Brother Denis Edward, F.S.C., did both. He was the first La Salle president born in the United States—in Phoenixville, Pa. Br. Edward’s progressive tenure featured state accreditation, expanded science facilities, a civil engineering curriculum, and an elaborate 50th anniversary (1913). His contributions to Catholic educational organizations at the state, national, and Brothers’ levels were substantial.

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Brother Abdas John (1903-1911)
Br. Abdas was born in Ireland. Of all La Salle’s presidents, his tour of duty (two dozen assignments) was the most varied. Calmness characterized Br. Abdas’ La Salle years, like his predecessor’s. “If there were any major changes during his administration,” it was noted, “he was quite successful in concealing them from posterity.” One vignette was a nighttime fire (1909) resulting in minor damage; the sleeping Brothers were roused to action by the shouts of a passerby.

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Brother Wolfred of Mary (1900-1903)
Br. Wolfred descended from Irish heritage, but he was born in London and educated in Canada. During his La Salle years, he took courses at Harvard and perhaps attained a doctoral degree there. “One wonders,” wrote La Salle’s historian, “just how much administration was accomplished while the President attended Harvard.” Aside from a need to promote the teaching of German and French in the place of Latin and Greek, these years were essentially uneventful.

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Brother Isidore John (1890-1900)
Br. Isidore was La Salle’s ninth and 11th President. A major event was the addition (1897) of a story-and-a-half to the original Bouvier mansion and one story to the wing section. The Latin Question, which erupted in the late 1890s, resulted in the elimination of the Classics from the curriculum and a short-term enrollment loss. Br. Isidore frequently worked with his close friend, Dr. Russell Conwell (founder of Temple University), on behalf of higher education.

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Brother Abraham of Jesus (1889-1890)
For one year, Br. Abraham (another native Irishman) served as President. Carlisle Hall, La Salle’s combination gymnasium and assembly building in the rear of 1240 North Broad St., was completed circa 1889. In 1890, Br. Abraham was reassigned when Br. Isidore returned.

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Brother Isidore John (1887-1889)
“A man of brilliant mind and an exceptional teacher.” Br. Isidore, born in Ireland, was described as such. La Salle’s enrollment greatly increased (249 in all departments in 1887), and typewriting and phonography (shorthand) were introduced a year later. After his presidency, he was reassigned for a year, but would return to La Salle.

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Brother Fabrician (1885-1887)
Under Canadian-born Br. Fabrician, La Salle received a sizeable donation from the estate of the late Francis Drexel (father of St. Katherine Drexel), and the Filbert Street building was finally sold. In 1886, the collegiate students moved from Filbert Street to 1240 North Broad, and a wing was added a year later. After La Salle, Br. Fabrician was deeply involved in the Latin Question, being re-assigned in the late 1890s and—several decades later—becoming one of the decision-makers allowing the Brothers to resume teaching Latin and Greek in the U.S.

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Brother Clementian (1883-1885)
As a youngster in Baltimore, Bavarian-born Br. Clementian never forgot a visit by Bishop (later, Saint) John Neumann, who reminded the students of the educational impact of the Brothers. He excelled in many fields, and he became a skilled administrator. Br. Clementian dealt with complex problems accompanying the sale of the Filbert Street property and the full acquisition of the North Broad Street locale. He coordinated the transfer of the high school department to 1240 North Broad St. in 1883, but the collegiate students remained at Filbert Street for a time. Eventually, he became Assistant Superior General, in charge of the Brothers’ establishments in Ireland, England, the U.S., and India.

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Brother Romuald (1878-1883)
Whether spelled Romuald or Rumwald, he could do it all. Born in Luxembourg, he was at ease in languages (five), proficient in higher math and science, talented in elocution, and gifted in singing and instrumental music (violin). Br. Romuald’s presidency was highlighted by reducing the debt and by purchasing the Bouvier estate at 1240 North Broad St. He was reassigned before the first students could transfer to the more spacious site.

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Brother Stephen of Jesus (1876-1878)
A native Quebeçois, Br. Stephen was remembered for his imposing profile and for commanding respect. He reversed La Salle’s declining population and chipped away at the burdensome debt. To restore La Salle to brighter days, “Brother Stephen lacked nothing but time.”

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Brother Joachim of Mary (1875-1876)
At first glance, Irish-born Br. Joachim seemed a perfect fit for the presidency, given his administrative experience in other cities. But events proved otherwise. Significant financial and enrollment problems dogged La Salle, mirrored by simultaneous economic downturns at the national level. He served less than a year.

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Brother Noah (1872-1875)
In some ways, Br. Noah resembled a scholar, and he was. Born in Montreal, he augmented La Salle’s academic offerings by establishing a literary union and inaugurating short-lived evening classes. Br. Noah authored various works during his life, especially in the field of English literature.

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Brother Oliver (1863-1872)
Br. Oliver, born in Ireland, guided the fledgling college and its move from cramped quarters at St. Michael’s Parish in the lower Kensington section of Philadelphia in 1867. The new site was a building—originally the site of St. Joseph’s College—at the corner of Filbert and Juniper streets in what is now Center City. He bestowed La Salle’s first bachelor’s degrees to seven students in 1869 in a ceremony at the Academy of Music, and La Salle’s first master’s degree to one student in 1871.

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Brother Teliow (1863)
Br. Teliow served as the first president for either five months or nine months (depending on the source). Born in Prussia, he was one of La Salle’s 10 original incorporators on March 20, 1863. Br. Teliow’s most productive years would come later, when he administered institutions for at-risk youngsters in New York City and in distant Ecuador. His “forgotten” name boldly surfaced in 1966 when the student newspaper, The Collegian, changed its nameplate—for just one issue—to The Teliowan, both on a dare and in a desire to publicize his legacy.


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Researched by:
Brother Joseph Grabenstein, FSC
September 23, 2004

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