The Rev. Terrence Toland, St. Joseph's College president

The Rev. Terrence Toland
The Rev. Terrence Toland
Posted: October 24, 2013

The Rev. Terrence Toland, 90, a Jesuit priest who during his eight years as the 23d president of St. Joseph's College introduced major changes, died Friday, Oct. 18, of heart failure at Manresa Hall, Loyola Center, Merion.

Although Father Toland was a theology teacher and educational administrator in Philadelphia and elsewhere, his major contribution came between 1968 and 1976, when he headed the college, now a university.

He formalized rules for faculty tenure; created effective faculty governance; improved academic standards; built the Science Center and the six-story LaFarge Residence Hall; founded the Office of Campus Ministry and also the Institute for Jewish and Christian Relations; and in 1970 welcomed the first female students to the campus.

With Father Toland's firm "but gentle" hand on the helm, St. Joseph's passed smoothly through the turbulent 1960s, said English professor Joseph J. Feeney.

"He was much beloved by students and faculty," Feeney said.

When Father Toland retired as president July 31, 1976, St. Joseph's staged a grand outdoor convocation that also marked the college's 125th anniversary and the nation's bicentennial.

Guests included Princess Grace of Monaco; the Rev. Pedro Arrupe, superior general of the Jesuits; Cardinal John Krol, archbishop of Philadelphia; and Archbishop Jean Jadot, Pope Paul VI's apostolic delegate to the United States.

Last November, the former Fine Arts West building on campus was renamed Toland Hall. "You were a model of how a Jesuit education does make a difference," college president C. Kevin Gillespie told Father Toland at the ceremony marking the name change.

Father Toland grew up near Cobbs Creek Park, in West Philadelphia, and graduated from St. Joseph's Preparatory School in 1939. He entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), later earning bachelor's and master's degrees from Loyola University, Chicago, and a theology degree from Woodstock College in Maryland. In 1956, he completed a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University, Rome.

He later received honorary doctorates from Temple University; Alvernia University, in Reading; and St. Joseph's.

Father Toland was the college's executive vice president from 1966 to 1968 before assuming the role of president.

A skilled listener, he met regularly with students, and when they tapped on his office window, he would invite them in for a chat, said Feeney.

"No one was surprised to hear that his favorite song was 'People,' from the musical Funny Girl," Feeney said.

Besides St. Joseph's, Father Toland also served at Woodstock College; Loyola College; the Jesuit Retreat Center, Annapolis, Md.; and Carroll College, Helena, Mont. He served with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops; at the University of Scranton; at Wheeling Jesuit University, W. Va.; and most recently at Old St. Joseph's Church, Philadelphia.

In recognition of his "distinguished service to Catholic Higher Education" in 2001, Father Toland received the "Theodore Hesburgh CSC Award" from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

The university's current president said that Father Toland had been his invaluable adviser and supporter at St. Joseph's.

"I shall miss his wise advice, often expressed with an Irish smile," Gillespie said.

He is survived by a sister, Patricia Hyland, and several nieces and nephews.

Two memorial services will be held at St. Joseph's University on Sunday, Oct. 27, one from 2 to 4 p.m. at Manresa Hall, Loyola Center, and another from 7 to 9 p.m. at the President's Office, Regis Hall, on Lapsley Lane.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at St. Matthias Catholic Church, 128 Bryn Mawr Ave., Bala Cynwyd. Burial will follow Tuesday, Oct. 29, in the Jesuit Cemetery in Wernersville, Berks County.


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