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Alvernia responds to its neighbors

Date: 12/1/2010

Alvernia responds to its neighbors

Alvernia University has been a good neighbor in the Kenhorst community for more than 50 years since the day the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters first opened our doors. As the university has grown, it has worked in partnership to remain sensitive to residents living near our campus.

In response to concerns voiced by several neighbors regarding sound and light levels coming from the campus athletic field, Alvernia implemented a comprehensive, multi-point program designed to alleviate issues identified. The program includes:

  • Creating a specially designed light barrier to eliminate problems related to light spillover emanating from the field.
  • Planting 40 trees on the field perimeter to cut down on both light and sound spill into the neighborhood.
  • Repositioning and relocating the loudspeaker system so that the speakers are lower to the ground, closer to the field, and redirected to point toward the center of the field.
  • Scheduling activities on the field to reduce sound and light impact to the neighborhood. (Details outlined below.)

The Kenhorst Borough further requested that Alvernia cease use of its athletic field at 9:30 p.m., to address concerns about sound spill over into the neighborhood. In response, the university has volunteered  to do the following:

  • Schedule intercollegiate games on the athletic field to begin no later than 7:30 p.m. and end by 9:30 p.m. (with reasonable exceptions for extenuating circumstances such as weather).
  • Manage field event use so that evening activities are scheduled for less than half the nights of any month and so that regular evening use of the field is limited to about six months each year, (generally mid-August through mid-November and early February - early May).
  • Conduct intramural games and university team practices without use of loudspeakers or the scoreboard to reduce sound coming from the field.
  • Schedule intramural games and university team practices so they end no later than 10:30 p.m. (with reasonable exceptions for extenuating circumstances such as weather). This leaves about one hour when the field could be in use, up to three times a week, (for roughly 6 months of the year) for practice or intramural games beyond 9:30 p.m.
“We have taken all these actions, two of which were initiated in fall of 2009 and in some cases at significant university expense, even though we are operating within the limits governed by city of Reading zoning regulations,” said Dr. Joseph J. Cicala, vice president of University Life and Dean of Students. “It is worth noting that we did review our plans with the Borough prior to constructing the athletic field. In fact, the previous Borough manager was consulted and on site when we first tested the field lights. Questions regarding sound and lighting did not surface until later when the field was in regular use.”
Alvernia has also introduced a communications program with Kenhorst residents, advising them how to report both immediate and less pressing concerns and apprising neighbors of upcoming activities. “We have established a student organization called the Good Neighbors Committee to build strong bonds with our community,” said Cicala.  Recently, nearly 140 of Alvernia’s neighbors contributed Trick-or-Treat bags of canned goods to the Bernardine Center Food Pantry, in partnership with Campus Ministry and the university’s Students in Free Enterprise Club. These actions build on many positive interactions between neighbors and students over many years.
Alvernia’s  goal remains to act as a responsible and respectful neighbor. “While we can’t agree to completely discontinue on-field activity at 9:30 p.m. each night, there are large periods of time, nearly half the year, when evening field use is simply not an issue because no events are scheduled,” said Cicala. “And during the remaining six months, we have agreed to significantly limit activity to address concerns.” 


  • 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.