Archival photographs, Past and present


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu

Traditionally, a university’s archway serves as a threshold, both literally and metaphorically.  Step through those gates, and you are welcomed on to the physical campus…and you begin whatever journey is meant for you.

We welcomed our students for the Fall 2017 semester last week. We hope that each of them feels comfortable and accepted as they each begin their respective paths in life.

Here is a look at Rivier’s original “welcome sign.”

The Rivier College Arch at its original location, circa 1941. This was taken before the City of Nashua widened the Daniel Webster highway. Resurrection Chapel is on the right hand side, behind the trees; Madeleine Hall is visible behind the car.
In 2014, the original arch was relocated to the entrance of our beautiful Sunken Garden

A Familiar Ring

“All that is gold does not glitter / Not all those who wander are lost / The old that is strong does not wither / Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The class ring seems to be one of those things that seniors get excited about, wear for a while, and then put away.  Nonetheless, it’s a unique sort of keepsake. It tells a story about the wearer:  their alma mater,  perhaps their profession, sometimes a favorite quotation….and it signifies the achievement of a college education.

Do you have a class ring?  Find it and take a good look at it.  Maybe it will bring back some fond memories for you, or remind you of a graduation goal you still have to achieve.  If you’re so inclined, go ahead and wear it today…. perhaps you’ll make a new connection with someone who notices and remarks about it.

Below are two examples of Rivier class rings from decades ago:

Rivier College class ring, 1957. Donated to the Archives by Marcelle Chenard, ’57
Rivier College class ring, 1965. Donated to the Archives by Sr. Joan Joyal, ’65

Orientation week

“Life is either a great adventure, or nothing.” –Helen Keller

We’re welcoming our new students for Orientation this week.  Here’s where our incoming students will get to know one another,  meet the faculty,  get familiar with our campus, and get a taste of dorm life before it all begins in earnest this fall.

Judging from the expressions on their faces, these young adults are feeling a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and perhaps fatigue (they’re learning the challenges of getting a good night’s sleep in a dormitory, after all).  Ideally,  they will gain confidence through this experience, and go home for the summer knowing that this is the right place for them for the next four years.

In the spirit of Orientation week, here are some “New Student” relics from our past:

Rivier Student Handbook and Resident Information Guide, 1969
Buttons for incoming Freshman Orientation, c. 1990
Special events

Anyone for tea?

“A mother’s love is like a cup of tea; always there to comfort.” — unknown

Yes, Mother’s Day was a few weeks ago.  But this little gem appeared today and it is too sweet not to share.  It’s a program for a Mother -and Daughter tea hosted in 1938 by the Public Speaking class.

From the detail of the delicate teacup-shaped invitation, to the content of the presentation itself, it’s clear that a lot of time and care went into planning this event.   There was poetry, prose, and music–and, not surprisingly, a lovely mixture of both French and English presentations.  If only we had a menu outlining what they served with the tea….

Archival photographs, Sisters of the Presentation of Mary

A Safe Place to Learn

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela

At first glance, this is a simple newsclipping from 1957.  It seems to be an ordinary photo of Sr. St. Ida instructing two students.  But if you read the caption, you will learn that these two students arrived at Rivier not simply to pursue professional goals, but to seek a safe haven from terror.

Far from being nondescript, this snapshot truly exemplifies the Sisters’ mission of “Transforming Hearts and Minds to Serve the World.”

Sister Ida and Hungarian Refugees

Commencement, Past and present

Commencement: Celebrating Endings and Beginnings

“All real education is the architecture of the soul.”  — William Bennett

The campus is fairly quiet this week. Final exams for the Spring semester are over; the dorms are mostly vacant.   Those of us who are still coming to work are pleased at the bounty of parking spaces.   And yet, there’s an air of anticipation and elation here on campus, too:  Rivier University’s 82nd Commencement Ceremony is just a few days away.

Here are just a few things that have changed over the years: Rivier has gone from being a College to a University; from women-only to co-educational.  Commencement exercises were once held on the original campus in Hudson; now they are held at a large arena.   Once upon a time, one could only watch the graduation in person; now, it’s live-streamed for many more to virtually “attend.”

Here is one thing that doesn’t change: The excitement about the possibilities ahead for our graduates.

Here is some memorabilia from Rivier’s Commencements past: from the very first Commencement in 1936, to Archbishop Desmond Tutu being honored in 2000:


Commencement 1943
Rivier Commencement Program, 1943. Note that the program is in both French and English here.
Comencement Week Activities 1981
Schedule of activites for graduating seniors, 1981
Commencement 19802 srs faculty
Sisters and Faculty at commencement, c. 1981
Baccalaureate mass 1994
Program from Baccalaureate Mass, 1994
Commencement TUTU
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Honoree, 2000
Medals, Sisters of the Presentation of Mary


“The one exclusive sign of thorough knowledge is the power of teaching.” Aristotle

Below: A Silver Palmes Académiques Medallion, presented to Sr. Marie-Jeanne Ducharme, p.m., in 1986.

Palmes Academiques Award

Since 1808, The Ordre des Palmes académiques (Order of Academic Palms) has honored academics for their contributions to French education and culture.  Two of the Sisters of Presentation of Mary, Sr. Marie-Therese Loiselle and Sr. Marie-Jeanne Ducharme, were presented with this honor.

Rivier University Seal

Altiora et Meliora: Higher and Better


The Rivier University official seal was conceived by Sister Madeleine of Jesus, p.m., Foundress of Rivier College, and was designed by the college’s first instructor in art, Sister François-Régis, p.m., Artist. It was adopted in 1933.

It is described as follows:

  • The field of blue (horizontal lines in the shield) and the lower field of gold (gray area in the shield) represent the colors of the Religious Order who directs Rivier University, the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.
  • The white dove (in the shield) represents the Holy Spirit, the Author of the seven gifts that perfect the soul; hence, the moral development interpreted by the word “Meliora.”
  • The book (in the shield) is the symbol of Truth; hence the intellectual development interpreted by the word “Altiora.”   This completes the college motto: Altiora et Meliora.
  • The white lily or “fleur-de-lys” (under the dove, book and college motto in the shield) represents France, the country of origin of the Presentation of Mary.
  • Within the inner circle (above the shield at the top) is the papal coat of arms.
  • Within the inner circle, at the left are the initials “PM” for Presentation of Mary, the Religious  Order who founded Rivier College.
  • Within the inner circle, at the right are the initials “NH” for the State of New Hampshire.
  • Within the outer circle written in Latin are the words: Seal of Rivier College. Nashua. 1933.
Wood and Composite rendering of the Rivier University Seal.
Wood Carving of the Rivier University Seal

The university seal was redesigned for the 50th anniversary of the university by Assistant Professor of Art, Sister Theresa Couture, p.m.

Seal press
Seal Press, courtesy of the Rivier University Archives

Rivier Seal_web 2012


You can also view a photograph of the original seal as described by Sister Madeleine of Jesus, with its English Translation, on Rivier University’s Regina Library Website.

"Did someone say 'seal?'"
No, this is not Rivier University’s official seal. But he is adorable, and glad you visited.
Archival photographs, Lent, Past and present, Resurrection Chapel

Past and Present: Resurrection Chapel

“Create a clean heart in me, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”– Psalm 51.10

Crucifix at the Chapel, c. 1950

Ever since Rivier’s beginning, the chapel has served as a place of worship and prayer for students, sisters, faculty and staff alike. It was renovated twice; for the first time in 1963, and again in 2014.  The Lenten season seems like a perfect time to take a look at the chapel through the years.

Altar in the original chapel, c. 1950
Chapel Exterior, c. 1950, prior to first renovation.
Photo from first Chapel Renovations, c. 1963.  Hayward’s Ice Cream stand is in the background, right.  The barn / house on the left is where the Learning Commons currently stands.
Chapel Exterior, c. 1970
2017 chapel
Resurrection Chapel exterior, 2017


Archival photographs, Past and present, Regina Library

Past and present: The Regina Library



To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often. –Winston Churchill

Rivier University’s library was originally housed in Florence Hall until 1958, when the Regina Library was built.  Beginning in 2007, the library began building a new addition, which opened in June, 2008.


Over the years, the Regina Library has added space, resources and services; changes which have better helped it support the educational mission of Rivier University in its efforts to:

educate the whole person in the context of an academic community that cultivates critical thought, sound judgment and respect for all people. This community supports the intellectual growth of all its members while offering them opportunities for social, cultural, moral and spiritual development.