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Celebrating our Catholic Sisters

Date: 9/20/2010

The 2010 Fall Lecture Series on Ethics, Leadership, and Community at Alvernia University opened on Thursday, September 16 with a special Founders Day lecture, given by Sister Patricia Byrne, CSJ in the newly renovated Francis Hall Theater.

Entitled “Catholic Sisters and Higher Education in America,” Sister Byrne’s lecture focused on the involvement of the Catholic sisters in American post-secondary institutions. Sister Byrne explored the roots of some of America’s Catholic colleges and universities, such as Alvernia, and their struggle to survive amongst a myriad of non-secular schools.

Byrne, a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, Pennsylvania, is a respected instructor, theologian and academic. She has earned degrees from St. Louis University, Boston College, and the Gregorian University of Rome, as well as having been named a doctoral fellow at Notre Dame University. She has also taught for twenty years in the Department of Religion at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Abbey of Regina Laudis.

A question and answer period with Sister Byrne was offered after the lecture, as well as a wine and cheese reception in the Francis Hall lobby.

  • 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.