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Forward Magazine

Message from the President Fall/Winter 2018

Dear Alumni and Friends,

What a blessed year 2018 has been for all of us at Seton Hill! As our Centennial year comes to an end, I would like to share with you how we celebrated our past while looking 100 Years Forward.

I am very pleased to report that our Fall 2018, full-time undergraduate enrollment is at 1,560 students.  This is the first time that full-time undergraduate enrollment at Seton Hill surpassed 1,500 students.  This number includes 452 new freshman and transfer students!  

This past August we held our first Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon for Scholarship Donors and Student Recipients. The response from students and donors was overwhelming – over 200 guests gathered in Lowe Dining Hall for the event. Our scholarship donors were grateful to have the opportunity to meet the students who benefit from their generosity, while our students were appreciative of this opportunity to meet and thank the donors who help make their education in the best tradition of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill possible.  

Luncheon guest speaker, Toni Verstandig, the daughter of Seton Hill Board Chair Ruth O’Block Grant, spoke about the importance of scholarship gifts. In January 2018, the Verstandig Family Foundation, founded by Grant Verstandig, Toni’s son and Ruth O’Block Grant’s grandson, pledged a seven-figure gift to create the Ruth O’Block Grant Scholarship Program.  This magnificent pledge officially launched Seton Hill’s Centennial Campaign for Student Scholarships. 

The goal of the campaign is to create or significantly increase 100 new or existing scholarships and raise an additional $10 million for scholarship support. As of today, through the generosity of our donors, we have achieved 101 scholarships totaling more than $8.7 million. All of us at Seton Hill – especially our students – thank you for your continuing support.

 Also in August we celebrated the dedication of The Robert M. Brownlee Mathematics Center, located in Reeves Learning Commons. The Center is the result of $1,018,000 gift from Robert Brownlee.  It is the first such center on campus and will help future generations of students studying math, science, technology and business.  Bob’s gift also established the Robert M. Brownlee Endowed Scholarship Fund. Bob is long-time friend of Seton Hill, his aunt, Sister Francesca Brownlee, led the charge to charter Seton Hill as a four-year college.

On September 13 – the eve of the 43rd anniversary of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization – The Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal was awarded to Pittsburgher Katherine Donahue Freyvogel. Katherine’s many efforts to support Catholic education, especially through her leadership in founding Pittsburgh’s Oakland Catholic High School, mirror the life of Mother Seton.  As we celebrated the importance of Catholic education to Katherine, the Seton Hill Alumni Association awarded its 2018 scholarship in honor of Katherine Donahue Freyvogel to Seton Hill junior Kennedy Kehew. 

The commemoration of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization continued on September 14 as we celebrated our Opening Liturgy and the dedication and blessing of Journey with Elizabeth: A Centennial Exhibit Celebrating the Life of Elizabeth Ann Seton. Bishop Edward C. Malesic, Bishop of Greensburg, celebrated the Opening Liturgy and, along with Sister Catherine Meinert, Provincial Superior of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, blessed the exhibit. Located in one of the Parlors on the second floor of the Administration Building, the exhibit houses many treasures found in the archives of both the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and the University, including handwritten letters and essays in Mother Seton’s own writing, a piece of the wooden altar from the church in New York where she received her First Holy Communion, and the original key to the Stokes Mansion – the Sisters’ first Motherhouse on the Hill. 

Our art and music programs hosted Centennial events as well – an art exhibit featuring the works of founding art faculty and a Centennial Concert in honor of the Sisters of Charity featuring Seton Hill music ensembles and musicians playing works created by Seton Hill faculty, alumni and students. 

In October, Seton Hill’s business program observed a milestone – the 40th anniversary of its establishment. Alumni and faculty gathered together to share memories of the program that has always been relevant to students’ needs and continues to prepare students for the evolving business world with new online, on the ground, and hybrid MBA, health care administration, data analytics, and adult degree programs.

During our Centennial Year the university community also tackled difficult subjects. The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) hosted the Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference in October. This year the triennial conference featured national and international Holocaust and religious scholars addressing the topic, “Women, the Holocaust, and Genocide.” 

Francine LeFrak and Denise LeFrak Calicchio, daughters of our benefactor, Ethel LeFrak, attended the conference. Francine shared a brief video on the Same Sky project and discussed her work in Rwanda with women who were affected by the genocide. Wendy Lower, Holocaust historian and National Book Award finalist, served as conference keynote speaker. The NCCHE also presented Victoria Barnett, Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Programs on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust, with the Nostra Aetate Award. 

A week after the LeFrak Conference, the Seton Hill community filled Saint Joseph Chapel to remember the lives lost in the massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The murder of 11 innocent men and women who were simply expressing their faith reminds us all that anti-Semitism is something we must continue to counter even seven decades after the Holocaust. We do that through education.

For 100 years, Seton Hill has provided the best educational opportunities to its students, and we continue to be recognized for our efforts on a national level.  U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Seton Hill among the Best Regional Universities in the North as well as one of the top Best Value Colleges and Best Colleges for Veterans. Our student athletes ranked fourth in the nation – and first in Pennsylvania - for the number of students named to the Division II Athletic Directors Academic Achievement list. 

As we close this Centennial year, I want to thank each of you for your outstanding contributions to the first 100 years of Seton Hill – and I invite you to join with us as we boldly move into our next century of teaching and learning. 

Hazard Yet Forward,

Mary