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A language lab was introduced into Boyle Hall in the 1960s.

If These Bricks Could Talk

Boyle Hall has seen its share of larks, learning – even love affairs. As we closed in on the venerable landmark’s first century (celebrated at the start of this semester) we invited members of the St. Norbert community to share their memories of a building in which every living alum of the college has taken at least one class. We enjoyed these so much – romances, follies, lessons for a lifetime, a poem – that we thought you should see them, too. And, we would like to hear your own experiences of a building that first opened its doors to students 100 years ago. 

 We do encourage you to contribute thoughts, anecdotes or reflections related to your Boyle experience by sending them to magazine@snc.edu. We will add a selection to this page.

Brian Kerhin ’92
We were in Stephen Westergan’s English class. He was explaining about meter in poetry, using Pink Floyd’s “Money” as an example. He’s going along with the intro, and when he gets to the first lyrics of “Money,” he belts it out at the top of his lungs. We then heard every door down the hallway close ... 

Mike “Taco” Capriolo ’70
It was a perfect spring afternoon in my freshman year, 1967. Rather than go into the building through the doorway, into the hall and then into the classroom, I decided to just climb into the classroom through the large window at the west end of Boyle Hall. Another freshman in that metaphysics class of Father Colavecchio, Rita Johnson, wondered about this young man taking a shortcut into the classroom. We started dating sophomore year, and after graduating in 1970, we married in July 1971. Two children and four grandchildren later, we are now looking forward to another phase of life: retirement. Thank you, Boyle Hall and St. Norbert College, for many wonderful, life-altering memories.

Rebecca Padlock ’05
When I was a freshman, I had to make sure I went out the same doors I went in. Otherwise, I would get turned around and “lost” on campus!

Jill Gonzalez ’88
I was so blessed to take amazing classes in Boyle Hall with Tom Faase, Maureen Manion, Michael Lukens, [Robert] Boyer and [Ken] Zahorski, Bob Hoffman, Sister Mary Alyce Lach and Karina O’Malley, among others. I feel like I had the dream team of professors! Those years and the learning that went on in that building continue to affect my life today, 30 years later.

Jeff Buehler ’06
… coming out of an 8 a.m. class to an ice storm and “gracefully” falling down the north entrance stairs ...

Sue Vine ’66
Nov. 22, 1963, I was studying in Boyle Hall library when a student came up to me and said President Kennedy was shot. We gathered in the basement of the Union and watched the CBS news. Quiet, crowded and all shocked.

Ken Zahorski (English, Emeritus)
I loved the 8 o’clock class, and was in the classroom sometimes by 7 or 7:30 a.m., preparing. Every morning, the floors were spotless, the erasers were clean, there was new chalk. … All the desks were in perfect rows. How fortunate we are to have a group of colleagues who care like that!

Chuck Peterson (Art, Emeritus)
There used to be a spectacular mulberry tree that gave the most juicy berries. It was probably two-thirds higher than the building.

Dave Klopotek ’64 (Chemistry, Emeritus) 
The large maple tree planted by Father [Anselm] Keefe is almost as old as the building.

Gene Bunker (Library)
When I retired [at the] end of 1990, we were still getting mail that said, “St. Norbert College High School.”

Nicole Micolichek ’11
I met one of my best roommates in a class in Boyle! We had a few classes together and started chatting and found out [we both] were searching for roommates. Almost my entire academic career was in Boyle and I loved it! Always remember walking up all the stairs to get to faculty and pausing a moment to compose myself before I left the stairwell.

Jeff Ritter (Business Administration, Emeritus)
College Avenue used to go all way between the buildings, so we had to cross street traffic that I don’t recall being slow.

Tasha Dantoin ’20 
Especially in the winter, I’d walk into the building and have to instantly take my winter clothes off because it was super-hot just walking in the building. I've always called it “Boiling Boyle.”

Dan Giovannini (Communication, Emeritus)
There was a strict dress code for women. They could not wear slacks in the early years. The first time coeds were allowed to wear slacks, we’d had a terrible winter storm. Father [Dennis] Burke gave the coeds permission to wear slacks because [there was] so much snow on the ground.

Donald Taylor ’67 (Galleries, Emeritus)
Men could not have facial hair, and their hair could not touch their collar. They had to dress for dinner. When Friday night came, they could stay out a little later [to] make up for their lack of social activity during the week. Saturday morning classes were dreadful. We were like the walking dead. We had an 8 a.m. theology class with a Hungarian Norbertine. He used to stand on his desk and talk to the Holy Spirit in his hand. I never taught in that building myself, but I do remember how noisy it was, particularly when the heat came on. The radiators would bang like crazy, and sometimes instructors would literally have to stop. Acoustically, though, it is a lovely building.

Jack Williamsen ’60
Father [Anselm] Keefe presided over his Boyle Hall botany lab sitting at a desk on a raised dais, high enough that he could survey all of us working diligently on botany projects. Lab time began when Father Keefe struck the brass gong he had obtained while serving as a chaplain in the Pacific during World War II (with enough off-duty time, apparently, to discover a new species of mosquito, named in his honor – aedes keefei). The sound of the gong was quite effective in quieting any chatter in the large room. 

President Brian Bruess ’90 
This particular day [in 1987, during a class in the Society, Sex and Marriage course taught in Boyle Hall by the late Tom Faase (Sociology)], Tom was teaching about how relationships become, evolve and flourish. He balanced intellectual rigor with accessible emotional intelligence, and a clear passion for teaching. As he so often did, he captured the imagination of each of the 40 students in that room. He taught us the importance of ever striving for a more full understanding of truth, our world and relationships. And he proceeded to ask us a bunch of questions. What if we were expressly and persistently highly attentive to the other – really working hard to learn what the other was thinking and feeling? What if our essential purpose, in all relationships, was to, for each and every day, and each and every person, put our focus and attention on amplifying the other? If we did this, faithfully, in a loving way, might we find the fullest way of human flourishing?


Francis H. Boyle Hall: A Reflection
Ken Zahorski penned this poem a few years ago. He has made updates since, he says: “Many of my most poignant remembrances centered on Boyle Hall, where I taught for 37 years, and so I recorded some of those ideas in poetic form and put them aside. When I found out that Boyle would be a topic of discussion at the forthcoming luncheon I resuscitated the project as a way of eliciting some more memories about that grand old structure.”                                                                                 

The gift of a yeast manufacturer
in gratitude for the education
his son received within its walls,
Boyle Hall has functioned
as dormitory, high school, book store,
library, language laboratory,
faculty resource center,
office and classroom building,
providing persuasive testimony
that to thrive one must serve,
to survive one much change. 

Though nearly a century old,
its ruddy face still glows with vitality,
its mission to leaven lifelong learners
and cultivate communio still rings true,
and if you walk through its corridors
in dusk’s downy hush,
the feathery fingertips of waning sunlight
lingering on desk tops,
you can still hear the susurration of voices,
the echoes of students and their teachers,
generations of them,
learning together, growing together,
still hear the explosion of joy
in animated hallways during class breaks,
students greeting, laughing,
sharing their discoveries,
their aspirations and dreams,
still feel the robust life force
of a venerable structure
where lives and futures have been,
and continue to be, formed.

Nov 10, 2017