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The Perfect Partnership

The Bay Path Board of Trustees was jubilant when Carol Leary accepted the President’s position. But what they didn’t realize at the time was that they hired not just one person, but a partnership that brought a new energy and vitality to the Bay Path community.

From the beginning, mutual support and respect defined Carol and Noel’s relationship. As they moved forward in their individual careers, they never lost sight of their roots and the lessons learned that they continue to practice: value family and friends, practice simple acts of kindness, help those who are less fortunate, embrace philanthropy, and support others to be the best they could be. It was the perfect partnership that continues to benefit Bay Path and the greater Springfield community.

Once they arrived on campus, their enthusiasm and openness were infectious. It was not unusual to see Carol and Noel in the dining commons, attending student events and plays, cheering athletic teams from the sidelines, or greeting students by their first name. For many students, the Learys became trusted advisors, mentors, and role models. Whether it was traditional undergraduates, adult women online, or graduate students, they all counted Carol and Noel as friends and would reach out on Facebook, or email, or just “drop in.” The door was always open.

Photo of Dr. Carol and Noel Leary celebrating with champagne glasses
Celebrating 20 years as President of Bay Path University at a campus-wide community event in 2015!

Always, without hesitation, they shared their time, treasure, and talent. Here in western Massachusetts, Noel has been a passionate advocate for civic activism and volunteerism. He led by example, serving on the boards of many organizations, including the Springfield Public Forum, Stage West, Storrs Library, Longmeadow Community Television, the Century Club, the Boy Scouts, the Reality Club, and he was a trustee of the Springfield Museums, where he chaired the Development and Membership Committee. Since 2007, he has been an official for the Western Massachusetts Catholic Schools Spelling Bee and is affectionately known by the students as “Mister Pronunciator Man.” Meanwhile, Carol is an Emerita Trustee and former chair of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, and was on the board of the Beveridge Family Foundation, Inc., and United Bank, and past chair of the Board of Tribunes for WGBY/PBS. As summer residents of Maine, they each support local organizations in their own way. Noel serves on the board of the Ogunquit Playhouse, and Carol is on the board for the Marginal Way Preservation Fund and the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.

At the Springfield Museums (MA) Annual Holiday Gala on December 3, 2015, Noel and Carol Leary announce a major gift to the Seuss in Springfield: Building a Better Quadrangle campaign. The Carol and Noel Leary Gallery of Impressionist Art is named in their honor. Also included in photo: Donald and Michele D’Amour.

Over the years, they were united in their common mission to do good, to foster change, and to make a lasting impact through their generosity. In addition to supporting countless fundraising efforts at Bay Path, their generosity will be forever felt through the Carol A. Leary Scholarship for First-Generation College Students and the Noel Leary Arts Fund. In fact, the arts hold a special place in the hearts of Carol and Noel. They believe the arts bring joy, build bridges between cultures, and strengthen community. In that spirit, through their generosity the Carol and Noel Leary Gallery of Impressionist Art in the D’Amour Museum of Fine Art in the Springfield Museums was named in their honor. They also commissioned a sculpture for the museum, the Phoenix, as well as the campus, fittingly called Galaxy, a permanent and visual reminder of their far-reaching impact on the Bay Path community.

Noel and Carol volunteer with students and other members of the Bay Path community for Rebuild Springfield, an initiative created in response to the June 1, 2011, tornado that struck the City of Springfield.

Their leadership and legacy will live on at Bay Path and our region. Generations of students and countless alumni have been touched by their words and deeds, and like Bay Path’s motto, Carpe Diem, they have indeed “Seized the Day” and much more.

Located just outside of Empsall Hall, the running waterfall meditation site was a gift from Rita McInnis Spencer ’42 and Charles Spencer, and named in honor of Carol and Noel Leary.

Carol and Noel’s deep love for the arts extends to all mediums. Galaxy, a wind sculpture by the artist Andrew Carson, was installed on campus in 2016 and funded by the Noel Leary Arts Fund.