Inside Judith Huntington's Office at Leland Castle at The College of New Rochelle



Photo by Ken Stabile

When Judith Huntington assumed the presidency of The College of New Rochelle in July 2011, the newly inaugurated chief executive undertook stewardship of a beautiful campus, including the Gothic-style Leland Castle, a national historic landmark built in 1855 for hotelier Simeon Leland as his private mansion. Leland’s castle and surrounding farmland would change hands and identities several times, becoming an inn, a fox hunt club, a boys’ boarding school, a girls’ boarding school, and, finally, the Ursuline seminary whose director founded the College of St. Angela—as The College of New Rochelle was originally known—in 1904. Today, Leland Castle is the stately home of the college’s art gallery—and the office of its president. “It’s a little overwhelming,” says Huntington, recalling the first time she entered what would be her office. “It’s very grand, elegant—and presidential.”

 

1. “When I was preparing for my inauguration, I sat down with some of the Ursulines to find out what Saint Angela—who founded the Ursulines—means to them. One said, ‘What comes to mind is a Johannes Vermeer painting of a young woman looking out beyond her environment—a visionary—ready to take on a new world and new challenges.’ I used that in my inauguration speech, and then she sent me a print of the painting, ‘Young Woman with a Water Pitcher.’ I hung it in our boardroom, and my daughter, Amanda, who’s a graphic design student, did her own study of it as one of her assignments. The connection between all of it gives me chills.”

2. “This award I received from Meals on Wheels. They had asked me if I’d be an honoree at their gala. I said I would, but I really wanted to experience the program. I took a day and traveled around with this retired couple, who does this route three times a day, all year round. I was overwhelmed. Bringing a meal or two to someone’s home can often be the one thing that enables them to stay out of a nursing home.”

3. “This is something that was given to me the night before my inauguration by Donald Day, one of our students. Donald said, ‘I really want you to have this; it’s very special to me. It’s Barack Obama’s commemorative inaugural coin.’ That was most touching.”

4. “I love antiques. I grew up in a very old house in Mount Vernon, in an Italian family. I love colored glass pieces like these."

5.“This embroidered pillow has the official seal of the college on it.”

6. “This was a gift to the college from a faculty member on the occasion of my inauguration. It’s a beautiful piece of Waterford.”

1. “This is an original Norman Rockwell print that was a donation to us. Rockwell lived in New Rochelle for many years.”

2. “One of the best features of my office is the tiny bathroom. I’m sure my predecessor appreciated it, but I really do—especially as a woman. A quick blow-dry, do your hair and makeup, and then you’re out. You’ll see the beautiful stained glass in its window. Since this is a landmark building, all of the exterior features are preserved.”

3. “This pen was a gift from my dad’s cousin for my inauguration. Because I lose pens, it’s on display. The second I put it in my purse, forget it—it’d be long gone.”

4. “During the presidential search, one of our trustees asked me what my favorite book is. I said, ‘Hands down, To Kill a Mockingbird.’ After I became president, at one board meeting, he hands me a paper bag. Inside is a copy of the book, signed by Harper Lee. About a month ago, I was watching Antiques Roadshow, and someone who appeared on the program with a really tattered copy signed by Lee had their copy valued at twenty-five thousand dollars. So I made sure to return my copy to Father O’Donovan at a recent board meeting.”

5.“Other than a few pieces of art, I really didn’t change a thing when I moved in. But I added this credenza, because I spend an awful lot of time on the computer. I love that I can work and face the campus.”

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