College of Distinction Designations

Franciscan Catholic values and commitment to experiential learning among accolades

Alvernia University earned three national endorsements as a College of Distinction for the third consecutive year for its Franciscan Catholic values and student-forward, comprehensive educational approach. 


Alvernia was listed among the 2022-23 Colleges of Distinction (COD) and Pennsylvania Colleges of Distinction, an online resource that aids students and their parents navigate the overwhelming process of selecting not just the "best" college but the right one.


“This designation highlights Alvernia's commitment to providing a world-class, experiential learning experience," said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. "Alvernia’s approach provides students to serving the underserved in our community while learning in a truly experiential environment that allows our students to excel in their chosen career and impact their communities.”


Alvernia is the only institution in the region to earn the Professional/Doctoral University designation by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education due to the number of professional graduate program offerings, graduates, and the university’s commitment to research. Expanded experiential learning and service-learning opportunities are offered through Alvernia’s centers of excellence, the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement and The O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.


In addition, as one of only 24 Franciscan Catholic institutions in the country, Alvernia was named a Catholic College of Distinction. Alvernia embodies Catholic and liberal arts traditions as a rigorous, caring, and inclusive learning community. This is cultivated through the Office of Mission and Ministry and the newly established Office of Justice, Equity and Inclusion.

“We encourage all our members to demonstrate our Franciscan values of humility, contemplation, collegiality, service, and peacemaking,” said Alvernia University Senior Vice President and Provost Dr. Glynis Fitzgerald. "We are committed to fostering broadly educated, life-long learners, reflective professionals, engaged citizens, and ethical leaders.”

COD evaluates institutions based on their commitment to "Four Distinctions:" engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes. The selection process consists of COD staff conducting in-depth research and detailed interviews with the schools about each institution's freshman experience and retention efforts, alongside its general education programs, career development, strategic plan, student satisfaction and more.


“Alvernia’s inclusion is informed by the unique ways it commits to achieving success. The effective strategies for student satisfaction and outcomes were the kinds of engaging experiences found at Alvernia,” said Wes Creel, Founder of COD. “We’re inspired by the ways in which Alvernia immerses students in their fields, all while fostering a welcoming community that will support them through and beyond their college years.”