Alvernia University President John R. Loyack announces plans for the university’s innovative CollegeTowne strategy to expand to Harrisburg and Pittston as well as updates on the second phase of redevelopment of the John R. Post Center and initial plans for the newly acquired American House at the annual President’s Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading.
“The journey is just beginning for Reading CollegeTowne thanks to our public and private partnerships that fully support our mission,” said Loyack. “Tonight’s honorees also play an exceptionally powerful role in the expansion of our mission through their servant leadership in and beyond Berks County, outstanding performance in their respective industries and their unwavering commitment to Alvernia.”
Alvernia University bestowed five of its prestigious awards on alumni and community leaders with ties to downtown Reading. Honorees include Jay Sidhu on behalf of the employees of Customers Bank, Dick Ehst, Joe Bonanno, Father John Hutta, Kayla Kressler, Jiolka Peralta, Greg Header and Susan Green.
Chairman & CEO of Customers Bancorp and Executive Chairman of Customers Bank, Jay Sidhu, accepted the CollegeTowne Award (formerly Pro Urbe Award) on behalf of Customers Bank for their significant community service and contributions to a higher standard of living for the Reading community. Customers Bank has made generous contributions to Alvernia University and hundreds of local non-profit organizations, education programs, healthcare, community and economic development, and their investment in the quality of life in the community and making Reading a great place to work, live and play.
“Alvernia and CollegeTowne are transformational in giving opportunities to students from this area, but also to students from around the world, like me. When I came to Berks County early in my career, I was fortunate to be welcomed and given opportunities,” said Sidhu. “I believe and [Customers Bank] believes the only appropriate response to opportunities such as these is to provide hope and opportunity to others.”
Longtime Berks County banking executive, veteran and servant leader, Dick Ehst, earned the university’s coveted Franciscan Award, given annually to a person who selflessly gives their time, talents and resources for the betterment of others and is presented for exceptional service to Alvernia. Recently, Ehst was elected to the Alvernia Board of Trustees and serves on the Philanthropy and Community Engagement Committee.
“We must maintain our commitment to good public and private education with a focus on excellence, never ever giving way to the acceptance of mediocrity in the interest of inclusion,” said Ehst. “Everyone needs the opportunity to excel. But not when we reduce academic requirements. My commitment to Alvernia supports my values, and I’m pleased and honored to continue my commitment to this outstanding University.”
Header, Class of 1997, vice president of R&D and Innovations for Fortune Brands Home & Security and CEO and owner of three companies: IRT Reels, Universal Clamps and Header Trading Companies, was honored with the distinguished alumni award that recognizes a person who demonstrates valuable contributions to their profession, community and nation. Header instills Franciscan ideals in his business practices and lives them in his daily life. He has served as an advocate for Alvernia since graduation and has hired numerous Alvernia graduates.
“Twenty-five years after my graduation and 49 unique patents later, I find myself at a turning point in my career,” said Header. “In many ways, this is what Alvernia has prepared me and countless other graduates for: to take the opportunities and resources you’ve been given and leave things better than how you found them… In the years ahead, I know that the knowledge and faith fostered here at Alvernia will guide my path forward. I’m immensely grateful to this school for the ways it has shaped me, as it will continue to shape thousands of passionate young leaders.”
Green, Class of 1976, credit card operation expert and distinguished author, received the Ellen Frei Gruber Award, given to an individual who has performed outstanding service to Alvernia, exemplified continued commitment and support of the Alvernia University mission and reflects the university’s core values of service, humility, peacemaking, contemplation and collegiality. Green is a longtime Alvernia volunteer, an active member of Alvernia’s Presidents Advisory Council and Women’s Council, as well as a mentor and supporter of alumni, and future and current students.
“Mrs. Gruber was an educator at heart, but her fundamental contribution to society was her unwavering belief that those who live a life of Service and Community are also those who help others realize their full potential,” said Green. “An hour a month equals 720 minutes a year, and over 5 years, it equals over 3600 minutes…Don’t focus on what you perceive as an unimportant hour per month but focus on how you can help change the world with those 3,600 minutes over the next five years.”
The university also awarded its third class of Four Under Forty winners, including Bonanno, senior account executive and business manager for Direct Energy Business; Father Hutta, priest, educator, volunteer and ethicist; Kressler, chief operating officer of Pennsylvania’s leading child abuse prevention program and mandated reporter training in Harrisburg, Pa.; and Peralta, owner and founder of Texture Curl Bar, the first curly hair salon in Berks County.