President Quigley Reminisces Ahead of Final Commencement

By Grant Catuna, Currier Times Staff///

Kenneth Quigley became president of Curry College in 1996, tripling the size of the college and building the foundation for its future success over those ensuing years. Photo by Grant Catuna

In between meetings, Kenneth Quigley makes the walk from the President’s Office to the Student Center to grab lunch.

Along the way he greets students, faculty, and staff with a smile as he’s done for the last 27 years as Curry’s President. He may even stop to ask students how they’re doing with this transitional period in their life, however, he’s undergoing a transition of his own: Retirement.

On Sunday, May 21, 2023 at Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA, President Quigley will be leaving Curry behind, right along with the Class of 2023.

As he looks back on his journey, Quigley reflects on moments of true fulfillment as well as some moments that haven’t been easy for him; Namely, his transition between Curry professor and Curry president.

“It was an abrupt transition,” he explained. “On Thursday morning I was teaching my classes and on Friday morning I was the president.”

Prior to accepting the position, Quigley wasn’t even sure if he wanted it. “I love teaching. Had a nice life, had a law office, young kids. I was happy, but I love this place and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll give it a shot.’”

In February of 1996 Quigley was named Interim President and by May of that same year he was officially Curry’s new president. The first order of business in Quigley’s presidency was tending to the immediate fiscal needs of the school. In response, he negotiated a new line of credit for the college, did a sale-leaseback of computer equipment, and worked on compensation reductions for faculty and staff.

Since then, Curry has tripled in size and added many new buildings such as the Student Center, Learning Commons, and various residence halls. Other buildings such as 1016 Brush Hill Road and the Alumni House were acquired during this time as well.

President Quigley acknowledged the importance of these actions, not for the growth of the school, but for the success of students.

“This college is about the success of people,” he said with great emotion. “All of our success is derivative or vicarious through them. It’s great to build buildings but buildings are only important for what goes on inside them.”

These fulfilling moments are what make President Quigley realize just how happy he is that he took that chance 27 years ago.

But with these highs come lows of equal strength as there have been accidents, suicides, sexual assaults, and bias incidents throughout.

“Curry College is a microcosm of society,” he said. “We’re an open system so everything that happens in the outside world comes in. We’re subject to all of that but what we aspire to is to be better than society at large.”

With that said, he believes the Curry Community is measured in two ways: “Are we working hard to be better,” he explained. “And when something bad happens, how do we respond? The event doesn’t define the community, what defines the community is the response.”

Despite his pride and excitement for how far he, students, and the school have come, there’s also solemn moments. Moments where President Quigley looks back and is overwhelmed by emotion.

A confirmation of just how far he’s come is the influx of letters from students and alumni.

“I’ve gotten so many letters and emails from students,” he said, choking back tears. “From students I’ve taught who are now 45 years old. The letters and emails — Validating? Yeah.”

With the positives and negatives in mind, President Quigley was asked if he would go back and do it all again.

“Yes,” He said instantly as emotion overtook his voice. “Yes. Even the bad days. As I look back, are there things I would’ve done differently? Absolutely. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat.”

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