On July 30, 2019, Siena College suffered a great loss in the passing of college President Br. Ed Coughlin due to complications from scheduled heart surgery. His funeral mass and burial were held on August 3 and 4, 2019 at St. Bonaventure University. On September 17, 2019, at 4 pm in the Alumni Recreation Center, the Siena College Community and the greater Capital Region community joined together to remember Br. Ed. All classes between 2:30 and 6 pm on campus were canceled to ensure that all members of the community who wanted to join together for the mass, could do so. Hundreds of people were in attendance.
Prior to the mass, student, alumni, and other Siena College community member’s stories of Br. Ed were shared on a screen along with photographs from his life. Throughout the mass, there was beautiful music, provided by Siena College’s Choir, Chamber Singers, Psalm 150 and community musicians.
Throughout the Mass, there were stories of Br. Ed’s life and his love for Siena College and all of the students that are here. Most memorably, there was a video put together of students sharing their fond memories of Br. Ed. A memorable story from this video came from a group of seniors who took the Italy travel course with Br. Ed as their tour guide. They shared their fond memories of him leading their tours and they shared a story of discovering a picture of Br. Ed as a young man with a very full head of hair. They put that image on a tee-shirt and presented him with one and he laughed and wore it. This shows the kind of man Br. Ed was, someone who enjoyed life and deeply cared for the relationships that he had with students on this campus. Through all of the stories, it became very clear how much Br. Ed has touched the lives and hearts of so many members of the Siena College community.
Br. Ed was a true Franciscan and at the end of the mass, John Murray remarked that “we want to make sure that Br. Ed’s love for Siena’s Franciscan Tradition continues” and he announced the Br. F Edward Coughlin O.F.M to Advance the Franciscan Values, which now, thanks to the efforts of Siena’s board and the friars of the Holy Name Province is up to over one million dollars. This money will be used to carry on the legacy of Br. Ed and allow the Siena College community to continue to, as Murray put it, “continue to live the Franciscan values that Br. Ed taught us.
Br. Ed was first mentioned in the Promethean in September of 2014 when he became the Interim President of the college. In this article, Br. Ed said that his main focus during his time of leadership was going to be on growth and the attraction of students. Br. Ed did a lot in terms of this focus. In his remarks, chair of the Board of Trustees, John Murray remarked that this year’s freshmen class is the largest class to ever be enrolled at Siena College and that one-quarter of the students are enrolled in programs that were not here before Br. Ed began to lead this campus. Br. Ed had a vision for Siena College and truly set the Siena Community up for success, not only for his time as President but through the centennial of the college in 2037 as well.
Br. Ed will be truly missed by everyone on campus, whether you knew him well or only knew him through his kind greetings, jokes and golf cart riding. He truly embodied what it meant to be both a Franciscan and a Siena College Community member.