The 2020 Ryken Award was presented to Mr. Robert Bernard, who has been the Director of Finance at Saint Bernard School for the past eight years.
The award is given annually on the feast of St. Francis Xavier at each of the 13 Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools. This year’s presentation, however, was delayed by COVID-19.
It recognizes an adult member of the school community for his or her commitment to the mission of Saint Bernard School and dedication to the values of the Xaverian Brothers. Each year the recipient is nominated by his or her peers and approved by the administration.
Head of School Don Macrino said Bernard is most deserving of the honor.
“In short, Robert Bernard safely brought the school through the worst financial crisis perhaps in its 64-year history in his quiet, unassuming manner reminiscent of the XBSS founder, Theodore James Ryken,” Macrino said.
Bernard began working at Saint Bernard in October of 2012. He rebuilt the school’s financial accounting system and has since guided Saint Bernard School through some of the most challenging fiscal times.
Most recently, as the world fell into the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic and SBS was pushed to a financial limit by international students unable to return, families needing additional financial aid, and a general downturn in eastern Connecticut’s economy, “our very own quiet, unassuming superhero, Robert Bernard, rolled up his sleeves and went to work,” Macrino said.
According to Macrino, Bernard applied to the federal government and secured the first payroll protection plan, developed a strategy in which funds were locked into a low yield financial plan, were moved to a higher yielding fund, and he shifted funds into the general operating budget so that our institution remains financially stable.
Bernard is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting. He is also certified as a long-term healthcare administrator and came to Saint Bernard from the health field.
“It’s an honor to receive this award … and I’m glad to be of service,” Bernard remarked to his colleagues.
By Shari L. Marderness