The world outside the College gates was changing rapidly, yet inside, Mary Delia Tye Neuman, Ph.D. ’66 and her classmates lived and learned in a geographically cloistered place, although not cloistered in terms of ideas.
“It was a different era,” Neuman remembers. “Politics was becoming very important; Vietnam was in its early days; the women’s movement was beginning, and here was a place where all the leaders were women. Vatican II began in our freshman year and concluded in our senior year. There was an openness and wonderful, forward-thinking ideas that were new and challenging.”
Neuman assumed all colleges were like Chestnut Hill, with rigorous academics and tough but nurturing professors who not only taught, but mentored in creative and original ways.
“We were expected to be leaders and to be strong,” she says. “I sailed through my [graduate] courses at the University of Michigan where I got my master’s degree in English, because of what I had learned at Chestnut Hill. I had worked so hard at CHC, but thought every college required that.
“I didn’t know until after I left what a good education I got at CHC because I had no point of comparison. I even used my notes from Chestnut Hill in my classes at Michigan.”
She remembers Sister Ann Edward whom she credits with teaching her what it meant to be a scholar and a researcher.
“Sister came into a class one day, sat down, and in her wonderful melodious voice, recited the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in Old English,” Neuman recalls. “I’ll never forget that. She was an extraordinary mentor to a lot of people.”
In Neuman’s family, education was always a priority and she grew up knowing she was going to go to college. She also knew she would need to get a scholarship. So in her college search, she focused on schools that offered a strong curriculum and good scholarship programs. Her interest in Chestnut Hill College was piqued because she knew an alumna and was impressed by her.
“Then I visited the campus and fell in love with the beauty and wonderful atmosphere. The size was right and the sisters were kind and encouraging. I didn’t know much about community then, but I got a sense of it from that first visit. That sense of community is an important value the College offers.”
Neuman went on to earn her Ph.D. in instructional design at the College of Education at Ohio State in 1986 and taught at the University of Maryland for 20 years before joining Drexel University, where she currently teaches research methods, information literacy and school library media. She divides her time between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., where she lives with her husband of 48 years, whom she started dating while a student at Chestnut Hill.
Her gratitude for her Chestnut Hill College education and experience has inspired Neuman to financially support the College consistently since graduation and she plans to include the College in her will. She also is investigating the creation of a scholarship that would allow her to mentor the recipient.
“I am grateful to God for the opportunities I’ve had and I realize that I wouldn’t have done many of the things I’ve done without Chestnut Hill College,” Neuman says. “I got a foundation there, both academically and in terms of leadership and commitment to doing something for those who need special attention. That wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for CHC. I learned there what it would mean to be a scholar and a teacher, and I’ve always been very grateful to Chestnut Hill College for that.”
— Brenda Lange