This Day in Bonaventure History

By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @JPinter93

November 8, 1873

St. Bonaventure University’s ninth president, Fr. Fidelis Reynolds, was born on this day in Brooklyn, N.Y. The first native-born president of both the college and seminary, he started off his career practicing law in New York City.

After a while, he decided to become a priest and enrolled at Bonaventure in 1896. He graduated in 1901, the same year he would enter the Franciscan order.

Fr. Fidelis completed his novitiate in Paterson, N.J. and then studied theology at the Franciscan College at Mount Saint Sepulchre in Washington, D.C. He was ordained as a priest in 1907 and joined Bonaventure’s faculty as both a friar and as a lecturer of mathematics.

Fr. Alexander Hickey became severely ill in 1911, and Fr. Fidelis was named the interim vice president. Not long afterward, Fr. Joseph Butler, university president, died, and Fr. Fidelis was named president.

Fr. Fidelis is most remembered for the advancements he made in the school’s academic structure. During his tenure, the high school, college and seminary were separated. He also helped add physics, biology and chemistry to the university.

In addition, he helped oversee the construction of Butler Gym, which was built as a memorial to the late president. Fr. Fidelis retired in 1916.

He enjoyed retirement for more than twenty years. However, he passed away in 1937 in Miami Beach, Fla.

This Day in Bonaventure History

By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @JPinter93

September 21, 1957

It was on this day that SBU received its classic “Brown Indian” statue that still resides at the school.

In 1957, Camp Turner at Chautauqua Lake was determining who to donate a Native American statue to. Friars from St. Bonaventure University, Canisius College and Niagara University all wanted the statue for their respective schools. Eventually, Camp Turner decided Bonaventure was the best recipient because of its mascot (the Brown Indian) and also its close proximity to an Indian reservation. The statue was placed on top of Butler Gym in 1958 where it would remain for 12 years.

By 1969, the statue‘s weight became too much for the roof of the gym, and it was moved to the Rathskeller, which had been recently opened. But this location was even easier for students to vandalize or toy with the statue.

The “Brown Indian” statue was removed from the Skeller in 1972 and moved to the office of the chief of security, Wilber Hoffman, for a year. It would then be moved to Campus Ministries in 1973. Sometime between then and now, the statue was moved to its current home in the Quick Center.