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The Setonian's biggest stories over the past 100 years

The Setonian is celebrating 100 years with a list of the biggest stories in Seton Hall history, ranging from University expansions, institutional changes and events that will be remembered for the next 100 years to come.

“The Inauguration of the Setonian” (March 19, 1924)

The issue that started it all. On March 19, 1924, the Setonian was born, established with the assistance of faculty and with the goal of “representing the active life of Seton Hall students.”

Despite the date on the front page being listed as March 15, the issue was sent to be printed that day and then distributed to the Seton Hall community on March 19.

“Pirates Pickle Peters; Peacocks Pretty Piqued” (1937)

Perhaps one of the most memorable Setonian headlines from the University archives, this story was written on the heels of a 30-23 win from Seton Hall’s men’s basketball team against their rivals, the St. Peter’s Peacocks. The article depicts how the “fancy strutting Peacocks drew in their plumes and succumbed to the bitter sting of a Seton Hall victory.”

“Construction under way; WSOU to be call letters” (1948)

The University would officially be on the air, the Setonian announced in the late 1940s. At the time, Seton Hall was the only Catholic college in New Jersey to have its own broadcasting facilities. The station’s first iteration featured student directing, producing and acting.

“School of Law opens Feb. 5; Archbishop makes known new status” (1950)

Seton Hall grew with the addition of the School of Law, with the acquisition of John Marshall Law School of Jersey City and its libraries. Miriam Rooney became the dean of the School, making her the first female dean of an American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law school in the United States. Simultaneously, the Setonian acknowledged that Seton Hall College had attained University status, with the State board endorsing the motion with the reorganization of seven clearly defined colleges and schools.

“Setonian Resumes Publication as Ban is Lifted” (1964)

After an apparent hiatus, the Setonian came back in April 1964 after a seven-week suspension. Besides the vague recommendation of “revisions in the newspaper’s constitution,” the article does not give the reasoning behind the freeze in publication. 

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An anniversary story published one year later stated, “If the administration will take the initiative by making the proper dialogical situation available, and if the students accept a mature role there, the spring demonstrations of last year will have achieved long awaited fruition and meaning.”

In a New York Times article published on Feb. 27, 1964, it was revealed that Seton Hall students actually held a demonstration against the initial suspension of the paper. A group of about 700 gathered in front of President’s Hall before overflowing into South Orange Avenue and stopping traffic. It was then that students began throwing snow and ice at responding police and firemen, causing law enforcement to open their hoses on the protestors. The only injury was to a fire captain cut in the face by ice. No arrests were made.

Other revelations in the New York Times piece included the fact that the suspension was sanctioned by the Rev. John J. Dougherty, the president of the University at the time. Citing an “abuse of freedom of expression” and “an unwholesome spirit that has characterized too many of the articles appearing in The Setonian,” Bishop Dougherty and his administration objected to the paper’s criticism of university requirements about ties and jackets and the prohibition of  alcoholic beverages. The paper’s letters and editorials also denounced a university order asking two students to shave off their beards under threat of expulsion.

“Second Semester Underway With 640 Women on Campus” (1968)

1968 marked the year that Seton Hall  officially became coeducational, after first matriculating female students in 1937. In an accompanying story entitled, “Mixed Emotions Expressed About Coeducation,” students were largely pleased or indifferent about the change on campus, but the general consensus seemed to be that the campus’s parking lots were now far too congested.

“Moratorium Activities Begin; Mass For Peace Scheduled” (1969)

The Vietnam War impacted the entire nation and locally at the University, prompting students and staff to protest the war with a day-long teach-in and a Mass for Peace in October 1969. Classes were canceled to accommodate the mass. In addition, two former alumni and recently returned Vietnam soldiers spoke at the teach-in and a torch light parade was held in South Orange and Maplewood, where students went out into the neighboring communities to talk to people about the war.

“One Hall of a finish” (1989)

To this day, the men’s basketball team at the University has never gotten as close as they did in 1989 to winning the NCAA tournament. That year, the team won second place in an 80-79 overtime loss to Michigan in the NCAA final. In an unlikely March Madness sweep, the Pirates came back from a 12-point deficit, and, according to the article, the University “come-from-behind destruction of Duke (95-78) in the Final Four equaled the Blue Devils’ largest margin of defeat in tournament history.”

“The University mourns” (January 20, 2000)

On Jan. 19, 2000, the University community was shocked by the Boland Hall fire that killed three freshmen students and injured 58 others. Prior to the disaster, questions were raised about the lack of fire safety plans in the dorms in addition to frustration with frequent false alarms (18 since the start of the academic year, to be specific). Therefore, when the sound of fire alarms reverberated throughout Boland on that night, many students thought it was yet another prank and did not evacuate, according to writers Jon Bemis and J. Bryan McCarthy. Both Boland and Aquinas Halls were built before a 1984 fire code that required the installation of sprinklers.

“Concerned 44 delivers new demands to provost” (October 25, 2018)

The Concerned 44, named for the reported percentage of marginalized and minority students on the University’s campus in 2018, created a list of demands following the decision to not renew the contract of Africana Studies adjunct professor Dr. Karanja Keita Carroll. As the university with the oldest Africana Studies program in the nation, the Concerned 44 was dissatisfied with the direction of the program, citing “watered down” responses their complaints had received from administration, wrote writer Nicholas Kerr.

After a nine-day sit-in at Presidents Hall and a march around campus, the Concerned 44’s protest came to a close when it was announced the group would begin renewed negotiations with SHU administration. However, in a statement published shortly afterwards, the student activists stated that the negotiations had quickly soured, namely because of “vague” and “non-committal” responses from University administration.

Seton Hall suspends in-person classes, orders faculty to go virtual in response to COVID-19 outbreak (March 10, 2020)

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerr reported on the University’s shift to online classes in the University’s first effort to curb the spread of the virus. Of course, Seton Hall students eventually vacated their dorms and went fully remote until the school reopened for hybrid learning and, eventually, fully in-person learning in 2021.

Here’s what’s inside Seton Hall’s strategic plan (March 3, 2021)

Early 2021, Seton Hall made an agenda for the future with its strategic plan, entitled “Harvest Our Treasures.” The plan outlined a course of action for the next three years and beyond, according to writer Daniel O’Connor. It included various goals for the University such as increasing the number of permanent and tenured faculty on campus; creating diversity, equity and inclusion committees in each school and college; renovating the University Center; and constructing state-of-the-art athletic facilities (at the time of writing, Seton Hall is fulfilling this goal with the ongoing construction of the new multi-million dollar basketball practice facility).

The plan was organized by the University Structure Committee, chaired by Provost Katia Passerini (now Interim President) and Chief Financial Officer Stephen Graham (now Senior Vice President and CFO of Howard University). The 12-person committee included three faculty representatives, with two members from the College of Arts and Sciences and one from the Stillman School of Business. There was one dean from the School of Law on the committee. Nursing, Health and Medical Sciences, Diplomacy, CommArts, and Education were not represented on the committee, and thus had no input on the plans.

Another main goal of the plan was to merge the College of Communication and the Arts with the College of Education and Human Services, and to merge the College of Nursing with the School of Health and Medical Sciences. In 2023, the first merger was complete, with CommArts and Education combining to form the College of Human Development, Culture, and Media.

Seton Hall Law dean stepping down amid embezzlement investigation (November 17, 2022)

Here, O’Connor details the resignation of the Seton Hall Law School dean Dr. Kathleen Boozang, following the University’s announcement of the discovery of “irregular” transactions occurring within the Law School’s administration in September 2022. Dr. Boozang remains a professor of law at Seton Hall at the time of publication.

“We’re home now” Students, faculty, benefactors gather at UC for grand reopening (November 29, 2022)

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony during Seton Hall’s yearly “Christmas at the Hall” tree lighting festivities, the new and improved University Center was officially opened. Dr. Monica Burnette, Vice President of Student Services; (former) University President Dr. Joseph Nyre; Archbishop of Newark, Cardinal Joseph Tobin; and then-Student Government Association President, Jayde Dieu, all spoke at the ceremony before spectators flooded the main entrance of the UC to take a first look inside, wrote current editor-in-chief of the Setonian, Emma Thumann.

BREAKING: Students protest to save Africana Studies (May 3, 2023)

The 2023 protest to save the Africana Studies program began with the ProtectAFAM movement holding sit-ins while N.J. Governor Phil Murphy was speaking in the University Center. Thumann wrote that the demonstration arose after continued frustration following the AFAM program losing its only full-time faculty member in Fall 2022. The initiative ultimately culminated in student protesters blocking both the South Orange and Ward gate entrances to campus on May 5 before meetings between ProtectAFAM and University representatives resulted in the end of the protest three days later.

Former President Dr. Joseph Nyre sues Seton Hall, alleging gaslighting, retaliation, breach of contract (February 6, 2024)

A more recent story, Thumann breaks the news of former president Joseph Nyre’s lawsuit against SHU. The article details Dr. Nyre’s allegations against the University and Chairman of the Board of Regents, Kevin Marino, following the former’s resignation in July 2023. The accusations involve various violations of the University bylaws, procedures and policies, including violations of state and federal laws. The specific alleged violations include Marino’s interference with the embezzlement investigation into University’s law school , Marino attempting to influence Dr. Nyre in admitting the “underqualified” children of personal friends, Marino using offensive language toward Dr. Nyre and other University employees, Marino sexually harassing Dr. Nyre’s wife, Kelli Nyre, and more.

Thank you to Archives & Special Collections and University Libraries for your immense contributions in preserving University history and for your support in assisting with the Setonian’s research.

We end this commemoration of the Setonian’s centennial – and celebrate its extraordinary future ahead – with a quote from our first issue: “Get behind the paper and it will live; neglect your duty and it will soon pass into oblivion.”

Jacqueline Litowinsky is a writer for the Setonian’s News section. She can be reached at


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