Seton Hill University Board of Trustees Chair, Michele Moore Ridge, will receive the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Robert L. Payton Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of her contributions to higher education on Monday, February 7, 2011, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore, Md. The Award will be presented as part of the CASE District II Annual Conference. The Robert L. Payton Award for Voluntary Service is presented to an individual who demonstrates leadership in advancement programs, furthers philanthropic tradition and articulates the needs, goals and issues in education.

Seton Hill University President JoAnne Boyle commented, “Michele Ridge has a passionate commitment to education and recognizes its value in changing lives for the better. She is accomplished in many areas but her ability to instill in others a love of learning is truly inspiring. The Seton Hill community is delighted that she is the recipient of CASE’s Robert L. Payton Award for Voluntary Service. This honor acknowledges Michele’s boundless commitment to independent higher education.”

Ridge’s career is distinguished by dedicated service to children, her community, her family and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Well respected in the field of library science and literacy, Ridge was director of the Erie County Library System in northwestern Pennsylvania for nearly sixteen years, managing a central library and six branches. She also achieved recognition as a producer of the radio program, “Library Medley,” that was distributed widely by the Public Broadcasting Service, and as a volunteer of remarkable accomplishment in the City of Erie and throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Throughout her tenure as the First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Ridge’s top priority was the prevention of violence against youth. She chaired the Governor’s Community Partnership for Safe Children, an initiative that seeks to curb violence by and against our youth by reducing child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, academic failure, illiteracy and other factors that make children more likely to commit crime.

Ridge was appointed chairperson of the Seton Hill University Board of Trustees in 2003, the first alumna to assume this leadership role for her alma mater. Ridge has also served as campaign co-chair for various phases of Seton Hill’s endowment and capital fund-raising campaigns. During her Board tenure, the University has achieved capital and endowment campaign commitments totaling more than $90 million.

Embracing partnerships is paramount to Ridge. Under her leadership, Seton Hill collaborated with city and county officials, public school representatives, state legislators and the arts community to renew the City of Greensburg. Out of these efforts grew a town and gown collaborative which remains a model for economic development in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Ridge co-chaired the $21 million campaign to build the new Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center and has led decision-making in locating the Center and other University facilities in downtown Greensburg.

Ridge also led efforts to bring an additional location of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) to the Seton Hill University campus. LECOM at Seton Hill opened in July 2009 and will help forestall Pennsylvania’s healthcare crisis by increasing the percentage of medical school graduates who stay in the area to serve the needs of the rural communities. Seton Hill’s partnership with LECOM at Seton Hill also enhances the strength of the University’s premier programs in the natural and health sciences and provides Seton Hill with the opportunity to foster expanded relationships with local and regional medical care providers.

Her previous role as national spokesperson for Communities that Care® represents an extension of her commitment to children—the most vulnerable members of our society. Ridge works tirelessly to mobilize communities, states and local governments to cooperate and collaborate to stretch scarce resources for the use of prevention methods in effecting positive change.

A former chair of the Vision of Hope Advisory Council, Ridge worked with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape together with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to ensure a brighter and safer future for children. Since the founding of Vision of Hope, the program has launched into a national child abuse prevention campaign. Ridge continues to serve as honorary chair of the Vision of Hope Gala and Silent Auction.

In 2001, President George W. Bush invited Ridge to serve on the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. This program recognizes the nation’s outstanding high school students for their academic achievements and excellence in the arts.

Ridge was recognized by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania with the Robert P. Casey Medal. She was named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania and featured in Lifetime’s “Remarkable Women” program. Additional recognitions include: the National Center for Family Literacy’s William F. Goodling Award; PA Citizens for Better Libraries Citizen of the Year Award; Children’s Playroom, Inc.’s Child Advocate Award; Republican Women in Government’s Woman of the Year Award; Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Greater Philadelphia’s Friend of the Family Award; Hadassah Presidential Award for Dedication to Women’s and Family Health and Education Issues; American Diabetes Association’s Pennsylvanians of Vision Award; Gannon University Friends of Educators Award; American Association of University Women Award for Outstanding Community Service and the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition Pink Ribbon Award.

Born in Erie, Pa., Ridge is the oldest child of the late Army Major Howard Moore and the late Margaret Nagle Moore. On account of her father's military career, Ridge, her brother William, and her sister Maureen lived throughout the country and abroad. She returned to Erie in her junior year of high school, graduating from Strong Vincent High School in 1965. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in European history from Seton Hill University in 1969, and earned her Master of Arts degree in library science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971.

Ridge and her husband, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, have two children, Lesley and Tommy.