At the annual President's Dinner, Alvernia University honors organizations and individuals who have made a significant impact on the university and the surrounding community.
President's Dinner Program 2015
This year’s awardees were recognized Oct. 15, and include James and Anna Connors (Franciscan Award), the John Paul II Center (Pro Urbe Award), Jeanne Moran Savage ’88 (Ellen Frei Gruber Alumni Award), and Eric B. Turman ’97, M’03 (Distinguished Alumni Award).
Alvernia University’s Franciscan Award honors individuals who selflessly give of their time, talents, and resources for the betterment of others. This award is presented to James and Anna Connors for exceptional service to the university, the community, and the profession.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in economics at Princeton University and his MBA at Harvard, James Connors worked as a security analyst before spending 11 years at Carpenter Technology Corp. With the support of his wife Anna, Jim used his experience to found Connors Investor Services in 1969, where he has continued to serve as both Founder and Chairman.
Both Connors have been very active in the community, serving on an impressive number of boards and committees, including the Berks Business Education Coalition, the Greater Berks Economic Partnership, and the Children’s Home of Reading. The pair co-chaired the 1990 United Way of Berks County Annual Campaign and the Greater Berks Food Bank Capital Campaign. And for their efforts, several organizations have honored the Connors for dedicated service to the community.
Alvernia University’s Pro Urbe Award is presented to a business or organization that performs significant community service and contributes to a higher standard of living in Berks County and surrounding communities.
The John Paul II Center for Special Learning was founded in 1982 to provide a unique educational and social program for children and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is the only Catholic school in the greater Berks County area serving students with this kind of special need. Its teachers and staff educate the whole child, academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually, and help students grow through a child-centered curriculum. They serve ages three to twenty-one of all faiths and religious beliefs.
The Ellen Frei Gruber Award is presented to an individual who has given outstanding service to his/her alma mater and exemplified continued commitment and support of the mission of Alvernia University. Most importantly, this individual reflects the values of service, humility, peacemaking, contemplation, and collegiality.
An Alvernia graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English and elementary education, Jeannie Moran Savage ’88 went on to teach both junior and senior high students at the Wyomissing Area School District, and has served on the Principal’s Advisory Committee and as a member of the Student Assistance Team. At Alvernia, she has served as a member of the Mission Effectiveness Committee, a committee member for the Brighter than the Sun 5K benefitting the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program, and co-founder of the Emma Yoh Memorial Scholarship Fund. She graduated from Leadership Berks (2014) where she led philanthropic efforts as Class President to secure $18,000 in support of scholarship and alumni initiatives.
Alvernia University’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a person who demonstrates the valuable contributions to his/her professions, community, and nation.
During Eric Turman’s tenure as Principal at Reading Senior High, the school’s graduation rate has increased from 53% to almost 70% and the dropout rate has decreased from 13% to 5%. In addition, over 70% of Reading High graduates are enrolled at an institution of higher education. Turman earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in urban education and a Principal Certification from Alvernia. He serves his alma mater as a member of the President’s Advisory Council and a partner in the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program.