Faculty couple brings students together in their home

By Carl Legg

Features Contributor

Married couple Dr. Roger Stephenson and Betsy DelleBovi are teachers at Canisius who live by the school’s Jesuit value of cura personalis. It is a Latin term which means “care for the person”, specifically the whole person. Their work on campus has extended far beyond the classroom by going out of their ways to create a more welcoming community.

Dr. Stephenson and DelleBovi are both committed to teaching, scholarship, and service for Canisius, but they believe it is more important to play those ideals out in everyday fashion. After their marriage 20 years ago, they decided to start something to connect all the different factions and folks on campus. “From workers, to students, to faculty, we wanted to break down their barriers,” said DelleBovi. Their solution? Inviting all of them to their home for gatherings in their famous barn.

“The most precious place we have is our home. It is important to share it,” DelleBovi said. From then on, they were always looking for students who could use comfort. “Every year, we evolve and develop different groups of students; not the best and brightest, those who need to connect with people,” she added.  For example, DelleBovi goes out of her way to invite students from the COPE program over because many are from the Bronx, without families in the area.

In recent times, DelleBovi believes this generosity is needed more than ever. Before the holidays, they both went into their classrooms and asked if anyone did not have a place to have Thanksgiving. Their offer did not go unappreciated. Freshman student Dylan Huston would have had nowhere else to go otherwise. “It was very thoughtful. It was lovely to feel so at home while being so far from home,” he said.

The happy couple never feels that it is a chore to invite people over. DelleBovi feels that she gets as much joy from the company as anyone else. They never feel forced to do it. “It’s always a compliment to me when you guys come out,” she said. There can also be perks to their hospitality. As lovers of literature, the happy couple had an incredible amount of books that needed to be moved off their shelves this summer. To help with the heavy lifting, three women’s basketball players came out and worked, while staying for supper, too.

Their hospitality has created many long-lasting relationships. They have met students from all over the world, and many remain close with them to this day. Some still swap holiday cards, while others have asked them to meet their kids. DelleBovi’s and Dr. Stephenson’s generosity is never forgotten.

They were eager to remind students that they are not the only ones who do this. “There are many faculty here who take students and treat them as adults and with respect,” DelleBovi said. “But because we are a married couple and seen in different contexts, we may get a little more attention.” Nevertheless, their efforts help make Canisius a school where support can always be found.

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