Outgoing Alvernia president raises funds during farewell gala
READING, Pa. – About 800 people, a blend of business and community leaders as well as faculty, staff and students gathered at the DoubleTree Hilton hotel in downtown Reading for the Salute to Tom Flynn gala, celebrating his legacy of leadership and recognizing the phenomenal transformation of Alvernia during his 14-year tenure as president. A total of $1,877,735 was raised for an endowed fund to support one of Flynn’s signature achievements, the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program.
“Alvernia’s Reading Collegiate Scholars Program is a core civic commitment, one reflecting and, indeed, defining our Franciscan mission,” said Flynn during the gala. “An investment in these students offers the best return possible, both for them and for our community. And, for those of us invested deeply in this program, there is a personal return that cannot be adequately put into words.”
Launched in 2014 to improve retention and graduation rates in the community, particularly Reading High School, the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program offers college-readiness activities to hundreds of high school students annually, preparing them to attend the college of their choice. The program also provides 10 full-tuition scholarships for Reading High students to attend Alvernia for four years. The first college cohort, which graduated in 2018, boasts a 100% graduation rate.
“It is extremely important that everyone who has supported this program truly know that they are making a difference not only to the scholarship recipients, but in every life that recipient touches,” said Syanashailyn Ortega, a member of the first Reading Collegiate Scholars cohort that graduated in 2018.
The gala, chaired by Alvernia trustee Kathy Herbein, brought together leaders from various sectors of the Reading community to honor Flynn’s contributions and Alvernia’s transformation.
“The journey has been a grand and exciting adventure for all who have enjoyed the ride,” said Herbein. “Along the way, challenges were overcome, successes celebrated and lasting friendships formed.”
Alvernia pays for one-half of the scholarships while business and community partners match the other half. The endowment created during the gala will ensure its sustainability for generations to come.
During Flynn’s tenure as president, guided by its inclusive Franciscan core values, Alvernia went from being a little known local college to a comprehensive, regional university, recognized both as an anchor institution for the local community and as a national leader in community service, civic engagement, and interfaith dialogue due in large part to the establishment of the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service, the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement, and the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program.
Among his many accomplishments is the transformation of the physical campus, with a new campus entrance; Founder’s Village and the Campus Commons; upgraded facilities for teaching and learning, fine arts and athletics; and the Flynn PLEX, a 100,000 square foot Recreation, Wellness and Health Sciences Complex that opens fall 2019.