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'Advancing the Legacy' Tells Story of Iona

By Clare DeGennaro, Staff Writer, The Ionian

Iona College celebrated the release of Iona’s new history book, “Advancing the Legacy: The Story of Iona College 1940-2015” with a ceremony and book signing in the LaPenta Marketplace Lounge Nov. 23.
“Advancing the Legacy” is a detailed look into Iona’s 75-year history.
The book covers a range of Iona’s legacy, beginning with the Christian Brothers on the Isle of Iona, located in Scotland. It traverses the changes to the College, from the outbreak of World War II just after the school’s inception, to various student protests during the sixties, to the introduction of women on campus and aspects of student life today.
The book was primarily written and researched by Br. Harry Dunkak. Dunkak’s specialty is local history. He was a member of the Class of 1951.
The pictures were organized by Richard Palladino, the director of the libraries. Palladino is an avid photographer and took many of the pictures himself. He also attended Iona and graduated in 1976.
“Advancing the Legacy” was curated by several researchers and archivists, and is a follow-up to Br. Charles B. Quinn’s book, which chronicled the first 50 years of Iona.
President Dr. Joseph E. Nyre introduced Dunkak and Palladino and described their work on the book as “a labor of love” as he praised their dedication and joked about their lack of a stipend.
“Advancing the Legacy” reveals that Iona’s history is populated with appearances by iconic historical figures. Robert Kennedy addressed the student body from Spellman in 1964. Muhammad Ali appeared on campus in 1968. Mother Teresa spoke on campus in 1976.
Student body president and senior Tommy Severin served as the Master of Ceremonies and hosted a question and answer segment. He began the discussion by asking the writers about their favorite experiences with guest speakers at Iona.
Palladino reflected on Mother Teresa’s commencement address for his own graduation from Iona in 1976. She implored the students to “love until it hurts,” a message that he has not forgotten.
Dunkak describes the spirit of Iona in the words of Blessed Edmund Rice, who said, “Go out into the world, and use your talents to help other people.”
Another person asked Dunkak and Palladino if they had made any surprising discoveries about Iona’s history in researching the book.
Palladino’s research in identifying photographs from old yearbooks and Ionian newspapers gave him an unexpected look into student life over the years.
Dunkak said one of the most surprising discoveries from his research was the chapter detailing the lives of each of Iona’s eight presidents. Though he knew most of them personally, the scope of their accomplishments took him by surprise when the book was published.
He also drew laughs from the audience when he recalled that Iona used to be nicknamed “Irish on North Ave.” He connected the College’s growing diversity to its progress and success over the last 75 years.
The topic of diversity on campus was breached again with the mention of Iona’s first class of women in 1969. The book states that about a quarter of this class was made up of women, compared to today’s freshman class, which is about fifty percent female.
Palladino summarized both the growing diversity on campus and the progress the College has made because of it.
“It took the students to move Iona forward,” he said.
“Advancing the Legacy” is available for purchase in the Iona bookstore or online.

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