Friends, family and colleagues of the late Helen G. Shaughnessy gathered on Saturday, May 15 at Worcester State College to officially dedicate the Helen G. Shaughnessy Administration Building and to celebrate the deep impact she had on the college and education.
“Helen Shaughnessy was a legend in her own time as an able woman educator,” President Janelle C. Ashley said. “She influenced the direction of the College for decades, and may be best loved and remembered for her skills in mentoring students as teacher, advisor, and student-teacher supervisor.”
Shaughnessy not only attended Worcester State Teachers College when the campus only consisted of the Administration Building, as an employee, she also helped implement expansion plans and attract more students. As Shaughnessy advanced to the position of associate professor and then chair of the Education Department, the college’s prominence as a first-rate teacher training school gained national recognition. She rose through the ranks to positions that included director of student teaching, director of personnel and labor relations, associate dean of Academic Affairs, and acting executive vice president. She retired in 1986.
Shaughnessy’s students, friends and colleagues donated more than $1.2 million to have the newly renovated Administration Building named for her. Her friend Albert J. Pilon Jr. gave $1 million and Phillip M. Wasylean II, a former student and the alumnus for whom Wasylean Hall is named, gave $200,000. Both attended the ceremony.
The dedication began with three of Shaughnessy’s classmates, Isabelle (Dunn) Sheehan, Mary E. McAuliffe, and Anne (McAuliffe) O’Malley, being escorted to their seats by campus police officers.
“Helen was so much of an icon of this school,” said state Senator Harriett Chandler, when presenting President Ashley with a citation from the Massachusetts State Senate. “In many ways, she was a daughter of Worcester State College, and she symbolized all the very best that this school had to offer. Her legend and her legacy will continue in this building for years to come.”
Dean of Education Elaine Tateronis ’63, Ed.D., added, “Speaking for the many educators, those who are members of my class and those classes that went before and after ours, she was a role model to us all. She had something very special: great instincts. She knew when to prod us and when to challenge us in ways that she wanted us to become better so that we could reach our individual potential.”
“We all have the utmost respect and admiration for her,” said Professor of Business Maureen Stefanini ’58, M.Ed. ’61, Ed.D., “and I am so pleased that each of you has come today to honor the legacy of Helen G. Shaughnessy, a great woman who accomplished so much in her lifetime, who encouraged others to climb every mountain and to reach for the stars.”
The following day, Shaughnessy’s niece, Joan Safford, who works in the Registrar’s Office, received her bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies at the College’s 134th Commencement. “Education was always stressed in our family, but I didn’t fully appreciate that until many years later,” Safford said. “When my daughters began college, I decided it was my turn. Everyone tells me my aunt would be so proud of me, and I know she would.”
Safford, her siblings, and sister-in-law poured tea for guests at the formal Tea held in the building’s Rotunda following the dedication ceremony.