Seton Hill University to Present Medal of Distinction to Michele Ridge

Alumna Michele Moore Ridge, Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, will be recognized with the Seton Hill University Medal of Distinction. The former First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Mrs. Ridge becomes only the second person in Seton Hill history to be so honored. She will receive the Medal during May Commencement Exercises on May 14, 2016. 

“Michele Ridge has provided outstanding leadership to Seton Hill University through times of tremendous growth and transition,” said Mary C. Finger, Seton Hill University President. “The Medal of Distinction recognizes Michele for her extraordinary vision and for her transformative contributions in advancing the University.”

“I am truly humbled and honored to receive the Seton Hill University Medal of Distinction from my beloved alma mater,” Mrs. Ridge said. “It has been a privilege to work alongside my Trustee colleagues - a tremendously talented group of leaders – and with the Seton Hill administration, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill.”

Mrs. Ridge will receive the Medal of Distinction during undergraduate Commencement Exercises, scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, May 14 in the McKenna Center on Seton Hill’s Greenburg campus and will be the Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2016, their families and invited guests.

A 1969 graduate of Seton Hill, Mrs. Ridge was appointed the University’s first alumna Board Chair in 2003. During her 13-year tenure, Seton Hill collaborated with local leaders and legislators to renew the City of Greensburg while addressing University needs; underwent a significant building campaign resulting in the construction of the Katherine Mabis McKenna Center, Performing Arts Center, Seton Hill Arts Center, and the JoAnne Woodyard Boyle Health Sciences Center, and entered into a strategic partnership with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM). 

Mrs. Ridge served as campaign co-chair for various phases of Seton Hill’s endowment and capital campaigns. In recent years, the University has achieved commitments totaling more than $125 million.

She also led Seton Hill through times of transition. As Chair of the University’s Presidential Search Committee, she managed a competitive national search process that led to the appointment of President Mary Finger in 2014.

Sister Catherine Meinert, Provincial Superior and President of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, said, “How fitting it is to honor Michele Ridge with the Medal of Distinction.  Michele's belief in the vision and mission of Seton Hill University regardless of the many challenges that had to be faced brings to life the Seton family's motto 'Hazard yet Forward.'" 

Mrs. Ridge has received a number of awards and honors for her endeavors in education, including the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Robert L. Payton Award for Voluntary Service and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania Robert P. Casey Medal.

As the First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001, Mrs. Ridge’s top priority was the prevention of violence against youth. She chaired the Governor’s Community Partnership for Safe Children and also the Vision of Hope Advisory Council, which launched into a national child abuse prevention campaign.

Mrs. Ridge’s leadership for children and families also brought forth the construction of the Erie County Public Library along Erie’s waterfront.  Mrs. Ridge had served as director of the Erie County Library System in northwestern Pennsylvania for nearly sixteen years, managing a central library and six branches prior to her tenure as First Lady.

Additionally, Mrs. Ridge serves on the national Nurse-Family Partnership Board of Directors, which provides governance, stewardship, and leadership to help the organization accomplish its vision of transforming lives through the power of relationships. She also serves on the Children’s National Health System Children’s Health Board in Washington, D.C. where she works to improve health outcomes for children and supports the creation of innovative solutions to pediatric health challenges.

Born in Erie, Pa., Mrs. Ridge is the oldest child of the late Army Major Howard Moore and the late Margaret Nagle Moore. She received her bachelor’s degree in European history from Seton Hill in 1969, and earned her master’s degree in library science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971.

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

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