During the 1960s and 1970s, while living in a Vanderbilt Avenue brownstone just up the street from SJC Brooklyn and the College’s Dillon Child Study Center, the late Catherine Brown and her mother developed a supportive relationship with the College and the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The mother and daughter were devoted members of the Queen of All Saints Church on Vanderbilt, where they developed close ties with the Sisters of St. Joseph, the founders of St. Joseph’s College. And back when the Dillon Center featured half-day programs for its preschool students, the Browns coordinated efforts with the school and working parents to provide additional childcare for many of the students.
St. Joseph’s College is pleased to announce that from the estate of Catherine Brown, the Sisters of St. Joseph received an $800,000 donation specifically designated for the College.
“The gift is recognition of the ministry in higher education for early childhood and the teaching profession,” said S. Helen Kearney ’67, C.S.J., Ph.D., president of the Sisters of St. Joseph. “This was something Catherine and her mother believed in. Her gift comes from a deep respect for St. Joseph’s College and the opportunities the College provides to students — opportunities they would never have received in other places.”
Catherine Brown’s gift will primarily benefit the Dillon Center, with $50,000 reserved for the S. Alice Francis Young ’40 Endowed Scholarship for St. Joseph’s students.
Funds Will Help Pay for Renovation of Observation Rooms
Funds from Brown’s gift will go toward renovating the school’s observation rooms to increase efficiency for observers and Dillon Center staff. The College will also use money from the donation to upgrade Dillon’s HVAC system, allowing St. Joseph’s students to schedule summertime observation sessions — giving them increased flexibility and the capacity to graduate earlier.
“This gift is a testament to the timelessness of the missions of both the Sisters of St. Joseph and St. Joseph’s College,” St. Joseph’s President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., said. “Since its founding, there has been a consistent, ever-present thread that’s run through the intellectual and spiritual fabric of the College: the belief that education transforms lives, communities and the greater world for the better.
“This gift, inspired by the good work of the Sisters decades ago, is a timely reminder that today’s students are advancing this wonderful legacy through their own unique talents and contributions,” he added.
Established in 1934 by former St. Joseph’s President Msgr. William T. Dillon, the Dillon Center was one among the East Coast’s first campus laboratory preschools. It continues to serve as a model and demonstration program for SJC Brooklyn child study majors and professionals interested in the field of early childhood education.
Taking Pride in Supporting the College
S. Helen noted that the late S. Alice Francis taught preschoolers at the Dillon Center, as well as future teachers on campus at SJC Brooklyn, during a long professional career spent exclusively at St. Joseph’s College.
“S. Alice Francis worked hard to enable students to understand young children and their curious nature and need to have things to explore,” S. Helen said. Catherine Brown’s gift “is a message to alumni and other supporters of St. Joseph’s College that their contributions allow something that is extremely important and influential — for individuals and society — to continue.”
S. Helen said the Sisters of St. Joseph take pride in supporting the College they founded more than a century ago.
“We have a long and very involved history with St. Joseph’s College, and we want to see it continue to thrive in the future,” she said. “We are extremely proud that among the faculty and administration on both campuses, there is a very obvious commitment to the College’s mission and values.”