Alvernia University President Glynis A. Fitzgerald, Ph.D., publicly announced the university’s largest comprehensive fundraising campaign last week, Partners in Progress, a campaign to build stronger communities by redefining higher education, at the university’s annual President’s Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading.
“This has truly been a historic campaign for Alvernia University to date, but there is more work to do to ensure our students can achieve their dreams of graduating,” said Fitzgerald. “The campaign will increase student access and opportunity, enhance academic engagement, grow student success, expand our community engagement, and allow us to invest in sustainability initiatives to ensure the university’s mission for generations.”
In December 2020, the comprehensive campaign was approved by the Alvernia Board of Trustees with the priorities to fund the university’s CollegeTowne Initiative, which included expansion of the community-based campuses in Reading and Pottsville, increasing scholarship support and emergency aid for students and providing support for new academic programs and refreshing existing programs. With over $52 million secured during the quiet phase of the campaign, the university has set a $70 million campaign goal to meet the current and future needs of Alvernia students and the communities the university serves.
“We cannot do this important work alone. We are grateful for the talented group of community leaders who have served on our Partners for Progress Campaign committee for the last three years,” said campaign co-chair and Fulton Bank Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Commercial Sales Jeff Rush. “This campaign will have a lasting impact on Alvernia University and the community, and we invite you to join us as partners in this endeavor. Your involvement and support are integral to our success, and together, we can create a legacy that will resonate for generations to come.”
In addition to the announcement of the campaign, Alvernia University bestowed five of its prestigious awards on alumni, a community organization, and community leaders. Honorees include Michael and Susan Fromm, Berks Community Health Center (BCHC), Judy Bohler ‘09, David Yoch ‘82, Andrew Angstadt ‘08, Junior Bernard ‘14, Katie Griffith ‘05 and Mylen Morales ‘15.
BCHC CEO and President Mary Kargbo accepted the CollegeTowne Award (formerly Pro Urbe Award) on behalf of BCHC for its significant community service and contributions to a higher standard of living for the Reading community. BCHC has made significant progress in promoting community health and wellness within the City of Reading as the only Federally Qualified Health Center.
“The relationship with Alvernia University started in 2013 with a pro bono Physical Therapy site, offering clinical sites for social work, physical therapy and nursing students. Our recent partnership announcement for our site at Alvernia’s American House location will greatly benefit the health of our community,” said Kargbo. “Both organizations are committed to creating this innovative venture that benefits the healthcare students of Alvernia, the care BCHC provides, and most importantly, the health of the members of our community.”
Longtime Berks County servant leaders Mike and Susan Fromm were honored with the university’s Franciscan Award, given annually to a person or couple who selflessly gives their time, talents and resources for the betterment of others and is presented for exceptional service to Alvernia.
“I know I speak for Susan when I say that we feel we’ve gotten far more from our 35 years of community service than we’ve put in,” said Fromm. “We’ve learned valuable lessons from our mentors, we’ve seen critical organizations grow and thrive, and most importantly, we’ve had the opportunity to witness lives being forever transformed…which I suspect is why we all do what we do. Thank you to President Fitzgerald, Board Chair Shemanski, the Bernardine Sisters, and the entire Alvernia community for allowing us to be a small part of this amazing story.”
For his commitment to social justice, the community and Alvernia’s core Franciscan values, David Yoch received Alvernia University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Yoch currently serves as the Magisterial District Judge for Shillington, Mohnton, Kenhorst, and Cumru Townships, has served the Shillington Fire Company for the past 49 years, and has served the Wyomissing Police Department for more than 28 years. He is a member of St. John Reformed Church in Sinking Spring and serves as an active volunteer across Berks County with his wife, Susan.
“I knew I wanted to do something different with my life, something that was challenging and not ordinary, something that most people would never experience. Alvernia fostered those ambitions,” said Yoch. “Being part of something larger and better than you DOES make a difference and embraces the ideals of service to others. It’s our investment in people just as Alvernia invested in me.”
Bohler is the executive director and founder of the JB Foundation, which supports children, youth, women, and the elderly living in extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic. Prior to the JB Foundation, she served Alvernia in multiple roles for nearly 21 years. She was a volunteer with the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Volunteers in Mission and a member of the Alumni Council from 2010-2015. She was also a member of the Farmland Preservation Trust in Lancaster County and is an active member of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Ephrata.
“As a result of Alvernia’s commitment to community service, I was able to travel to the Dominican Republic for a student service opportunity. What I experienced during that first trip changed my life’s focus,” said Bohler. “The idea to establish the JB Foundation was formed during my time as a student and employee at Alvernia… I wanted to follow in [the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters] example, continuing the work with vulnerable communities and dedicating my life to service.”
The university also awarded its fourth class of Four Under Forty winners, Andres Angstadt, director of religious education and middle school religion and music teacher at Holy Guardian Angels Regional School; Junior Bernard, owner of the Pranzel Group, tuition assistance nonprofit; Katie Griffith, United States border patrol agent with the Department of Homeland Security; and Mylen Morales, resident student at Expeditionary Warfare School, a top-level school for Marine Corps Captains.