Joseph Batory, La Salle University ’64, and West Catholic High School, ’60, received the 2014 Brother Edwin Anselm Award at Philadelphia’s West Catholic High School alumni association’s 93rd annual communion breakfast. The event was attended by many hundreds of West Catholic grads.
Brother Edwin Anselm is the Christian Brother who as principal built Philadelphia’s West Catholic High into one of the premier Catholic schools in the USA in the late 1920’s. Brother Anselm subsequently became the president of La Salle College (not then a university) during the depression years of the 1930’s and managed to somehow keep the school from potential foreclosure while increasing enrollment and expanding the campus. Brother Anselm is often referenced as “the man who saved La Salle.”
The Brother Edwin Anselm Award is bestowed annually on a West Catholic graduate who has excelled in education. Joseph Batory is a great fit for that award since he attained much national and local recognition as the exemplary leader in the Upper Darby School District from 1984 to 1999. This school system located just west of Philadelphia is well respected for its prowess with a pupil population with a wide range of socioeconomic, ethnic and racial diversity, and educational needs.
As Upper Darby’s superintendent of schools, Joe was cited by Executive Educator magazine and IBM systems as one of the Top 100 school leaders among the 300,000 school superintendents in North America. He was also honored with the prestigious Lifetime Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of School Administrators.
Joe’s achievements as a school leader in Upper Darby were recognized by the White House, the United States House of Representatives and both legislative chambers of government in Pennsylvania. Upon his retirement, one news media outlet termed Batory as “a legend” and another summarized him as “a champion of learning for all students.”
Joe’s tenure as superintendent of schools produced numerous significant accomplishments for the Upper Darby School District. Six of the District’s 12 schools were cited with the prestigious National Blue Ribbon of Excellence from the United States Department of Education. The school system won awards from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for its extensive program of business partnerships (90), its substance abuse prevention initiatives, its comprehensive program in music and the arts, and its parent involvement programs. A very successful program of corporate sponsorship of scholarships for needy students for college education was also put in place.
In addition, Joe set up a private foundation during his administration which has now amassed nearly two million dollars given as individual mini‐grants to teachers for educational endeavors. Upper Darby’s Teacher Center, created during Joe’s years as a superintendent, has become the “cutting edge” model for professional development among area school districts.
A letter to Joe from President Bill Clinton recognized his many accomplishments with these words: “Over the years, you have exerted profoundly positive influence on thousands of young people in the Upper Darby community giving them inspiration and desire to achieve.”
Joe is steadfastly loyal to the Christian Brothers whom he credits with motivating and inspiring his eventual career in educational leadership. “The Christian Brothers during my West Catholic High School years believed in me and supported me at a time when off the streets of Philadelphia I desperately needed positive mentoring. Ultimately, more Christian Brothers influence at La Salle College (not then a university) became the academic model for my egalitarian philosophy of education to believe in every young person no matter what his or her background or baggage.” Said Batory. “It is that Christian Brothers modus operandi that inspired and motivated me throughout my successful career and still imprints my educational beliefs today. I will always be grateful!”
Outside his world of work, Joe has been active for 30 years in the world’s premier humanitarian organization, Rotary International. Joe was a member of Upper Darby’s Rotary club for many years and in 2006 joined the Philadelphia Rotary where he became the President of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia during its Centennial year (2011). Joe has received Rotary International’s highest award for meritorious service in recognition of his efforts in sending eight area scholars overseas with fully funded Rotary scholarships. In the past seven years, Joe and his wife have also been the host Rotary contacts for 23 visiting Rotary university scholars from seven different countries. Joe was also instrumental in the achievement of four fully subsidized Rotary Peace Fellowships, two awarded to Philadelphia police officers and two won by Philadelphia assistant district attorneys. He also managed a public image billboard advertising campaign stressing Rotary’s humanitarian outreach along Philadelphia area highways which was worth one million dollars over four years.