YEARS AT LA SALLE: 44
- B.A. in English, ’58; La Salle University
- M.A. in Theology, ’59; La Salle University
- M.A. in English; University of Notre Dame
- Ph.D. in Communication; University of Wisconsin-Madison
1. What was it like winning the 2018 Shining Star Award?
That was so exciting. I have to laugh about it because I invented that award, it’s almost like I plotted it. It’s always so exciting having alumni back on campus, I always feel so honored by their presence. My sisters were there and said it was the best party they’ve attended besides their weddings. I was just on Cloud 9.
2. So many alums have credited you with inspiring them over the years. What is the biggest lesson you try to instill in your students?
I try to encourage them to have confidence and use their initiative and go the extra mile and that’s a formula that seems to work. Take pride in your work. When you get a job, leave your stamp on whatever you do, which is the best work you can do at the time.
3. Who has been your biggest inspiration in your life?
My parents, certainly. I was the youngest of nine kids and I saw how hard they worked and how they loved and took care of us. They were a huge inspiration. And the Brothers were a huge inspiration to me, too. So much so that I decided to join them.
4. As a staple of La Salle for decades, what has it been like to watch the University evolve over the years?
It’s been so fun to watch La Salle grow, but it’s been really great to see the communication department evolve. When I got here with a communication degree, they didn’t even know what to do with me because there was no communication department. We gradually developed one, starting with a film class and a class on TV production and the program continued to grow. Then we got our own building. It was all very exciting.
5. You’ve taken multiple travel/study trips with students over the years. What are some of your fondest memories?
We’ve been several places–Ireland, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Dresden, and the Czech Republic, to name a few. Two things stand out. The first is witnessing students take their first trips abroad and reading their evaluations where students say it was the greatest experience of their lives. The second is watching the impact these experiences have on them. Visiting Auschwitz, seeing those images being seared into their memories, you know they’re never going to forget. There’s also a lot of fun, too.
6. What is your favorite sports team?
There are a few. As a Notre Dame alum, I’m very faithful watching them. La Salle basketball, obviously. And being an Eagles fan has been very exciting. One of the biggest thrills was standing on the curb in South Philly for the Eagles parade. I looked up at this one bus and there was this one alum pointing at me and yelling “Brother Gerry!” and nudging his friends who were also alums. I helped them get their internships and tears were in my eyes. There I was watching them.
7. What’s the last movie that you’ve seen?
I saw one the other day, Isle of Dogs. It’s an animated film by Wes Anderson who has done some incredible stuff like Hotel Budapest. One movie I saw over the fall I thought was really underrated was Marshall, about the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. I added it to my film and law course.
8. If you could only pick 3 movies to watch for the rest of your life, what would they be?
I can’t do it! I’m terrible at that. I’ve tried. I set up film courses and I go back and change them over and over again. I have some favorites that I like to start courses with that really help get students thinking about film like Stand By Me and Juno. And, of course, movies that come on television that I can’t turn off—Bull Durham is one, Field of Dreams is another. I’ve had a lot of fun with movies.
9. What is a scripture you frequently feel called back to?
“The Road to Emmaus.” It’s about two disciples walking along a path and run into Jesus, but they don’t recognize him. They begin talking to Him and as He’s about to continue on his own way, they say, “No, stay with us because it’s about to grow dark.” It’s so true for life. I cherish that line.
10. Name five people, dead or alive, you would invite to a dinner party and why?
Well, I’ll give you my list but they definitely wouldn’t have gotten along! But, since I wrote about them, I’ll say Gregory Peck, Charlie Chaplin, Jimmy Stewart, John Sayles, and for good measure, I’ll throw in Alfred Hitchcock. I think it would be a very, very animated discussion.