Published in The Philadelphia Inquirer April 11, 2022—Response to a sports page article of April 7, 2022)
By Joseph Batory
Mike Selski’s trashing of La Salle University in the April 7 edition over its lack of recent men’s basketball success was ridiculous.
La Salle is about so much more than basketball victories!!!!!!!
As for La Salle’s mission, high achieving students at the university are commonplace. Yet, 30 to 35% of La Salle’s students have often been the first in their families to attempt and succeed at higher education. Talk about a success story! Two campus facilities stand out: La Salle’s nationally-ranked business school (a new state of the art building) and its top-rated nursing program (located in the totally renovated Germantown Hospital building) complete with a clinic for the community.
As for La Salle’s location, while employed there in the 1970’s, I was present at a discussion by school leaders about the possibility of relocating the city campus to a nearby pristine suburban area. But that suggestion was rejected by the Christian Brothers present who argued that abandoning (running away from) La Salle’s inner-city location would betray what La Salle is all about. Indeed, the La Salle’s campus has become a reflection of its mission and commitment to the city.***
As for the basketball program, the reality of successive losing seasons is of course disappointing. But Sielski’s suggestion that all alumni are “turned off” is absurd. Much more meaningful to me is the university’s unwavering prowess in reaching out so successfully to young people. And I am not alone. On March 22, 2022, the allegedly “turned off” La Salle alums set a one-day fund raising effort of $1.3 million.
As for Fran Dunphy, the most successful Big Five coach ever, he is far from some desperate dream of La Salle as its new basketball coach. No matter what may happen, Fran is the right person at the right time for this challenge.
Yes, mistakes and bad decisions have been made re La Salle basketball over many years. But a dark article full of cynicism and negativism is unworthy of The Inquirer sports page and demeans a great university.
Joseph Batory was the Director of Sports Information at La Salle from 1970 to 1975. He is a proud graduate of La Salle (Class of 1964).
***Authors Note.. Below is an updated excerpt from another of my published articles. It adds a bit more detail.
In the 1970’s, I was working at La Salle College (then not yet a university) in its administration. At a meeting of La Salle’s leaders at which I was present, there was a serious discussion about moving the campus out of its city environs to an available spacious green suburban area. As a young man, I thought this idea made great sense. But this idea never got off the ground. The Christian Brothers at this meeting emphasized that La Salle’s egalitarian philosophy and Christian principles could never be about “running away from its inner-city neighborhood.”
End of discussion.
So, La Salle dug into its environs. The struggling and deteriorating Germantown Hospital was acquired by La Salle and was beautifully renovated into quality offices and also the La Salle nursing school on campus. La salle’s nursing school has emerged as one of the best of its kind! La Salle also kept a Neighborhood Nursing Center at the former hospital site. It received the Public Health Recognition Award from Philadelphia’s College of Physicians for its substantial contributions to the community. Operated for more than 25 years by LaSalle’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, it is one of the oldest nurse-led community wellness centers in the country and cares for at-risk families through screenings, immunization programs, disease-prevention services, and specialist referrals.
La Salle has also since built a “state of the art” business school. (NB—U.S. News & World Report ranked La Salle as the best in the country in MBA job-placement rate as part of its 2023 Best Graduate Schools report, unveiled March 29. The 100% job-placement rate among La Salle MBA alumni tied La Salle with programs at Michigan State, Duquesne, Pacific Lutheran, and South Carolina universities.)
In another innovative endeavor, abandoned lots adjacent to the La Salle campus have long ago been developed into a first-class shopping center for area residents and students.
And the overall campus at La Salle has been greatly expanded and is greener than ever.
And La Salle has evolved: Once an all-male institution, the university is now 60 percent female!
True to its Lasallian mission, 30+ percent of La Salle’s students are the first in their families to pursue higher education.
And more than 40 percent of the student body describe themselves as diverse.
Academically, La Salle now has 39 undergraduate programs and 28 graduate programs of study. In addition, La Salle students are annually engaged in about 60,000 hours of community service.
Of course, I would love to see more basketball victories.
But La Salle University’s caring and dedication to its founding principles have been and continue to be the most important issue!