Past President Of Seton Hill Was A Catalyst In The University's Growth And Development
A 1946 alumna of Seton Hill, Ms. Farrell served as President of Seton Hill from 1977 until her retirement in 1987. She was a tireless champion of the liberal arts and professional education at a time when such devotion was questioned, working diligently to ensure that the two remained paramount on Seton Hill’s campus. She once wrote, “Strong liberal arts institutions exist not to replace or omit pre-professional and career training, but rather to support such training with an intellectual and ethical basis. A Seton Hill education liberates and equips students to use their skills with confidence in all the personal and professional aspects of their lives.”
Ms. Farrell’s tenure was marked by numerous achievements. She oversaw the redesign of the core curriculum which earned an “Excellence in Education” Award from the Consolidated Natural Gas Company and a commendation from Ernie Boyer then head of the Carnegie Corporation. She introduced several new academic programs, as well as an “Evening Degree Program” for adults. She oversaw the renovation of Reeves Memorial Library as well as enhancement of the overall learning and living environment for Seton Hill students.
According to Seton Hill President JoAnne Boyle, “Eileen Farrell was a remarkable leader whose vision helped reshape the college. She understood that Seton Hill’s outstanding programs in the arts should be opened to men and that working adults would be better served through evening and weekend courses. She saw the United States becoming more diverse and led the way in bringing that diversity to Seton Hill. She loved the Sisters of Charity and this college that she helped them build.”
Sr. Gertrude Foley, former President of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, remembers Eileen Farrell with great fondness, “When you spoke with Eileen, you sensed her energy, her acuity, yes, even her wisdom. But somehow you were not overwhelmed. Rather, you felt energized, smarter yourself. You experienced the inner calm that comes when you are in the presence of a competent leader.” Boyle added, “Even when she left the Presidency, Eileen’s interest in her alma mater and her support for the rich educational tradition of Seton Hill never flagged. She will be missed, and there is no replacing her.”
Upon graduation from Seton Hill in Greensburg with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology in 1946, Ms. Farrell began her professional life as a personnel psychologist for Sears, Roebuck and Company in Chicago, Illinois. She then became personnel manager for Container Corporation of America also in Chicago. Later, she was Director of the Jersey City Job Corps Center for Women under the sponsorship of the YWCA in Jersey City, New Jersey. Prior to assuming the Seton Hill presidency, Ms. Farrell served as director of personnel administration for Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
A responsibility for the community-at-large guided the life of Eileen Farrell. She served on the Finance Committee of the YWCA of Greensburg and co-chaired the successful fund-raising campaign that brought about the agency’s building addition in 1996. She served on the Nominating Committee of the National Board of the YWCA and was among the leaders honored at the National Convention of the YWCA in 1985. Ms. Farrell was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra; the Advisory Committee of the Seton Hill National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education; the Seton Hill Lynch Lecture Selection Committee; the Executive Board of the Westmoreland/Fayette Council Boy Scouts of America; the Foundation of Independent Colleges, Inc., of Pennsylvania; the Westmoreland Hospital Community Mental Health Center; the Association of Retarded Persons; a volunteer member of the Westmoreland
County Chapter of the Service Corps. of Retired Executives based at Saint Vincent College; and the Seton Hill Alumnae Corporation Board of Directors. She served as president of Pike Run Country Club and president of The Friday Club.
Ms. Farrell received numerous recognitions for her professional and community leadership including the Seton Hill University Distinguished Alumna Leadership Award, honorary Doctor of Education degrees from Saint Vincent College and Seton Hill University, and the Distinguished Arts and Community Leadership Award from the Greensburg Cultural Council. The significant increase in alumnae giving during Ms. Farrell’s presidency at Seton Hill earned national accolades with a first place award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
A native of Rockville Centre, New York, Ms. Farrell was born on August 10, 1924 and was the daughter of John A. and Anne Hayes Farrell. Ms. Farrell was a member of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish in Greensburg. Her parents and a brother, Robert W. Farrell, predeceased her. Ms. Farrell’s brother, John A. Farrell of West Caldwell, NJ and three nieces and four nephews survive her as well as many close friends.
Visitation will be held in the Oratory on the third floor of the Administration Building at Seton Hill University from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 21st. Ms. Farrell’s funeral mass will be held in St. Joseph Chapel at Seton Hill on Monday, July 22nd at 10:00 a.m. with the Reverend James Gaston officiating. Reverend Donald Mondello and Reverend John McDermott will concelebrate. Interment will follow the service at the Sisters of Charity Cemetery at Seton Hill. Kepple-Graft Funeral Home, Inc. is in charge of arrangements.
Should friends desire, the Farrell family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Eileen Farrell Endowed Scholarship Fund at Seton Hill University. Memorials may be sent to Seton Hill University, Office of the President, Seton Hill Drive, Greensburg, Pennsylvania 15601.