Disanto Reflects on 50 Years of Nurturing Regis Students

Ron DiSanto was on track to become a priest, until he found his calling — teaching.

After completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy, Ron DiSanto was on track to become a priest. He was enrolled at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, studying theology, but just before he could be ordained, “I decided it wasn’t my vocation,” he said.

A few years later, he found his calling in teaching.

This year marks DiSanto’s 50th anniversary as a member of the Regis faculty. DiSanto, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, joined the religious studies department in 1972, and, after a few years, moved to the philosophy department. His students have gone on to become doctors, lawyers and teachers — and he often hears from them long after they graduate.

“That's always felt good, when they want to stay in touch with you. That shows that you didn't mess him up,” he said with a laugh.

Through the years, DiSanto has watched Regis change. A few years before he arrived, the University welcomed its first female students. Buildings have changed, and academic programs have grown.

But as much as Regis has changed, he said, it’s also held onto its identity. “There's something in the ethos. There's something in the atmosphere that I associate with Regis that I think has been here from the beginning,” he said. “I think it's very important.

”Through all the changes, DiSanto said he stayed at Regis because he feels connected to the mission. Plus, he said, Regis students have always motivated him to stay. “I've always felt that as long as I'm not changing careers, this is this is the place for me,” he said.

In 1990, DiSanto and his colleague, the late Regis Prof. Rev. Thomas Steele, S.J., published Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which analyzed the original book by writer and philosopher Robert Pirsig. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a cultural phenomenon when it was released in 1974, is a fictionalized autobiography that tells the story of a father and son who take a motorcycle trip across the United States. The book analyzes values and the way our society lives.

As he was researching the book, DiSanto interviewed Pirsig and met many of the people who inspired his work. Since the guidebook was published, DiSanto has connected with readers interested in the philosophy behind the book.

More than his publishing success, though, DiSanto is proud of his accomplishments as a member of the Regis faculty. “I do love being in the classroom with the students,” he said. “I do love engaging the students as best I can and just continuing to respond to what I think is my calling.”