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Hollerans to Give Cedar Hill Farm to Alvernia University

Date: 6/18/2009

Alvernia University President Thomas F. Flynn announced today that Jerry and Carolyn Holleran, both emeritus trustees of the institution, have decided to give their historic Cedar Hill Farm property to Alvernia University for use as a president’s home and a conference and retreat center.

The Hollerans have resided at Cedar Hill Farm since 1985.  They are moving to a new residence sometime this fall.  Since moving into Cedar Hill Farm, the Hollerans have made substantial renovations and restorations including the addition of an art studio and meeting space in 2002. 

“Not only does this gift provide a magnificent president’s home where we can conduct many University functions,” noted Dr. Flynn, “but the facilities are ideal for retreat and conference gatherings by the University community and by organizations and not-for-profit agencies in our community.”   Such use will likely commence in early 2010.

This is yet another generous gift from the Hollerans, who only last year endowed Alvernia University’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement. “This gift reflects the Holleran’s longstanding commitment to serve the people of Berks County,” Flynn commented, “and it strongly affirms Alvernia’s commitment to serve the community through initiatives sponsored by the Holleran Center, programs such as Leadership Berks and our Seniors College, and the contributions of many senior executives, staff, and faculty who serve on non-profit community boards.” 

The Hollerans are most pleased that the University has accepted this gift.  “We have been involved with the University for many years as volunteers and members of the Board of Trustees,” they commented. “This year the University celebrated its 50th anniversary, and we are more confident than ever about the future of the University under the leadership of Dr. Flynn.  We enthusiastically support the vision of Alvernia to be a distinctive Franciscan university.  Its values and our own are very much in synch.  In addition, the University has talented personnel in place to manage the property.  And we are thrilled that Alvernia’s president will take up residence in the home.”

In addition to the home and the 15 acres of land on which it sits, the Hollerans have created a generous endowment to maintain the property and sustain its unique and historic status.  The original house was built in 1840 by William Silvis, a local quarry master who also owned the quarry located along the Schuylkill River in the region of the home.  Additions were made to the home between 1914 and 1920 by the Stanley Bright family under the direction of R. Brognard Oakie, a famous American architect from Philadelphia.

Alvernia University’s academic program includes 50 undergraduate programs of study, six master’s degrees, a Ph.D. in Leadership, principal and teacher certifications, degree completion programs, and a unique program for older adults called the Seniors College, which serves hundreds of senior citizens.  Its mission is to provide a rigorous, caring, and inclusive learning community committed to academic excellence and to being and fostering broadly educated lifelong learners, reflective professionals and engaged citizens, and ethical learners with moral courage.

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.