Brother Vincent Malham, FSC (’54)
“I live and bleed CBU. In these hallowed halls, I grew to manhood, admired caring teachers, gained lifelong friends, and found my life’s vocation.”
Vincent Malham was born in Brinkley, Arkansas, and graduated from Brinkley High School. He came to Memphis in 1952 and attained his associate degree from Christian Brothers College in 1954. He later wrote that as a student, many of the Brothers at CBU had been so good to him that their inspiration led him to answer the call to become a Christian Brother in 1955. He completed his bachelor’s degree and formally joined the Brothers at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
An accomplished pianist, Brother Vincent went on to earn a Master of Music in choral conducting from Washington University in St. Louis and a Doctor of Music from Laval University in Quebec. His musical career included experiences as a teacher, composer, conductor, and performer. From 1970 to 1998, he performed in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East with his confrere, Brother Laurence Walther. Representing the international Lasallian educational family, the “Brothers in Concert” presented more than 100 programs of duo-piano and vocal music to audiences of various backgrounds and cultures.
Brother Vincent returned to Memphis in 1973 as a member of the CBU faculty and served as dean of the Faculty of Arts (now the Rosa Deal School of Arts) from 1981 to 1987. From 1990 to 1995, he held the position of provincial superior of the St. Louis Province of the Christian Brothers (which included Memphis and is now the Christian Brothers Midwest District of the Lasallian Region of North America). He served two terms on the CBU Board of Trustees and also served on the boards of St. Mary’s University and St. Mary’s College of California.
A lover of languages and international cultures, Brother Vincent spoke French, Spanish and Arabic, all of which served him well when he began teaching English and music at Bethlehem University in Bethlehem, Palestine in 1996. Shortly thereafter, he was named vice chancellor and then president in 1998. Throughout his tenure at Bethlehem and afterward, he was a strong voice for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.
Brother Vincent left Bethlehem in 2005 when he was named the 21st President of Christian Brothers University. During his tenure at CBU, Brother Vincent oversaw the University’s largest capital project in more than a decade with the new expansion of the CBU Sciences complex, which included the construction of the Cooper-Wilson Center for Life Sciences and the renovation of the existing facility into today’s Assisi Hall. He also spearheaded renovations of the University Theater and campus housing, along with numerous other campus improvements and beautification efforts. His guidance led to a number of new degree programs, including undergraduate programs in biomedical science and studio art.
Brother Vincent’s presidency was cut short when he died on May 2, 2008 in an automobile accident in Louisiana. The Mass of Resurrection, attended by more than a thousand mourners, was celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Memphis, and most of the music performed at the service was written or arranged by Brother Vincent.
Brother Vincent was a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; was honored by the Sovereign Order of Malta with the Croix Pro Piis Meritis; and by St. Mary’s College of California with an honorary doctorate. He also received the Pro Ecclesia Et. Pontifice medal and citation from Cardinal Moussa Daoud, Prefect for the Congregation of Eastern Churches, at the Vatican. This distinguished award is the highest given to lay persons and clergy for exemplary service to the Church. Brother Vincent received this honor in recognition of his leadership and ministry at Bethlehem University.
CBU is a place where students develop a sensitivity to the views of others; a place where students learn, not only how to get ahead in life, but also, how they must be of service to others when they are ready; a place where students will begin to form a judgment of imagination, thinking what might be and how they might become positive forces for action and change.— Brother Vincent Malham