Alvernia University President John Loyack Reading CollegeTowne

Alumni and community leaders earn prestigious honors


Alvernia University bestowed four of its prestigious awards on alumni and community leaders with ties to downtown Reading at its annual President’s Dinner, presided by John R. Loyack. Honorees include DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, John P. Weidenhammer, and alumni Mary Kay Bernosky, Esq. M’03 and John D. Wanner ’82.


“The Reading CollegeTowne theme woven into this evening’s festivities was a natural fit as Alvernia boasts tremendous ambassadors that provide service, leadership and an unwavering commitment to the Reading community,” said Loyack. “Our honorees represent the very best that Alvernia and the Reading community has to offer and their efforts have laid an outstanding foundation for future generations of Berks County citizens.”


DoubleTree Hilton Reading Pro Urbe Award President's Dinner John Loyack

DoubleTree by Hilton Reading employees with President Loyack

With over a dozen employees in attendance, the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading accepted the Pro Urbe Award for their significant community service and contributions to a higher standard of living for the downtown Reading community. Banquet Houseman Alonzo Cooper and President, General Manager and COO Craig Poole, who has led the DoubleTree to become the top-rated hotel in the worldwide DoubleTree chain and has heavily invested in employees from the City of Reading accepted the award on behalf of the DoubleTree.


“My life today looks completely different than it did 4 years ago,” said Cooper. “I was battling addiction issues and stints in and out of prison. Today, however, I am in recovery and one of my biggest accomplishments is being a 4.0 student at Reading Area Community College. I will be graduating in December and transferring to Alvernia University upon completion. All of this has become a reality because of the opportunity that Craig Poole and DoubleTree has given me.”


John P. Weidenhammer Franciscan Award Alvernia University President's Dinner

Weidenhammer with Loyack

A longtime Berks County resident and local businessman and community leader, Weidenhammer earned the 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.


“I commend the trustees for wisdom, foresight and courage for recognizing that higher education finds itself at an inflection point and for thinking outside of the box in hiring a new president,” said Weidenhammer. “Rather than taking the safe route by hiring a new president with deep academic credentials to attempt to continue the Flynn legacy, the Trustees decided to engage an innovator, a glass breaker, a different drummer in John Loyack. By recognizing the need for change, the Trustees deliberately chose to hire a change agent and to pursue a new path at a time when paradigms are changing all around us. President Loyack’s CollegeTowne plan presents an opportunity for the transformation of downtown so desperately hungry for vision and revitalization.  My hope is that Alvernia and the College Town vision will be a catalytic accelerator for the many great things already underway and for those just getting ready to launch.”


Mary Kay Bernosky President's Dinner John McCloskey

Bernosky with Alvernia Senior Vice President Dr. John McCloskey, Jr.

Bernosky, the CEO of Safe Berks, was honored with the distinguished alumni award that recognizes a person who demonstrates the valuable contributions to their profession, community and nation. Bernosky has been a longtime protector of Berks County men and women who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence through her visionary leadership of Safe Berks and participation with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.


“I am humbled and grateful to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from Alvernia University,” said Bernosky. “In a great many ways, this night brings me full circle.  It was my desire to lead a domestic violence agency that led me to pursue my Master’s degree here at Alvernia, and subsequently led me to Berks County and what was then, Berks Women in Crisis.  It was also while accepting the Pro Urbe Award from President Emeritus Flynn here on behalf of BWIC in 2008, that began our collective journey as a community partner and collaborator that subsequently led to our first-ever Capital Campaign and the building of the Safe Berks Center that not only provided safety and healing to thousands in our community, but helped to re-invigorate the City we call home.”

John Wanner '82 Alvernia Ellen Frei Gruber Award President's Dinner John Loyack

Loyack with Wanner


Wanner, an Alvernia trustee emeritus, 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.


“I am very grateful for this recognition,” said Wanner. “I attribute most of the things I achieved in life to my family. I was not born in an affluent family in fact I grew up in the City of Reading on south 6th street. I had one advantage, I was born to parents who dedicated their lives to raising me and my six siblings. I was able to attend Alvernia because they were able to provide me with a financial need scholarship. I’m always very grateful for the university. When I came to Alvernia I met my second family.”