Distinguinshed Alumni Awards announced for 2020 weekend

Maria Williams, Features editor

On June 12-14, Mercyhurst will celebrate Alumni Reunion Weekend. This weekend started in 2010 and has been a tradition ever since, celebrating all former Lakers, especially those who have reached a landmark year. This year those who were in the class of 1960, 1970, 1980, 1995, 2010 and 2015 are being honored.

The schedule for the weekend has yet to be released but it is scheduled to be posted soon. There will be fun, engaging activities for the alumni who are also welcome to stay on campus during the weekend. In addition to the more casual events planned for the weekend, there are also awards given out to alumni.

Lindsay Frank, director of Alumni Engagement, is in charge of planning and executing the weekend.

“Each year, we give the awards at Reunion Weekend and we choose six recipients annually for the Distinguished Alumni Awards,” Frank said.

There are several categories for these awards including: service in a chosen field, service to Mercyhurst and service to the community.

“There’s also one award called the Sr. Carolyn Herrmann Award which is our highest alumni award and is only giv-en every now and then,” Frank said. “It is given to someone who excels in all of those listed areas,” Frank said.

One of the alumni being honored is Sr. Rita Panciera ‘53, a Sister of Mercy and a long-time supporter of Mercyhurst. Panciera graduated from Mercyhurst College with a B.S. in Business Education in 1953, the same year that she professed her vows to become a Sister of Merc y.

Since that time she has contributed to Mercyhurst in a multitude of ways, including as a professor in the School of Business, a pioneer of Mercyhurst Campus Ministry services and the Dean of Students from 1968-1971.

After leaving Mercyhurst, she carried on the work of the Sisters of Mercy by running the House of Prayer in downtown Erie. The House of Prayer has been a huge part of Panciera’s life – when the House of Prayer turns 50 next year, Panciera will be turning 90.

The other recipients for Distinguished Alumni Awards in service to the community will be presented to Barbara Brairton ‘65 and Betsy Hirt Vorsheck ‘77.

Distinguished Alumni Awards for service in a chosen field will be presented to Brian De-Francesco ‘06, Bea Tomczak Habursky ‘85 and Joel Montmi-ny ‘95.

There will also be additions to the Mercyhurst Athletic Hall of Fame during the weekend including the 2008-09 women’s ice hockey team, Vicki Bendus ‘11 for women’s ice hockey, Gregory Bensman ‘12 for men’s lacrosse, Rachel Griepsma ‘11 ‘12M for women’s water polo & women’s soccer and David Lough ’08, for baseball & football.

Also being honored under the Athletics Hall of Fame category is Mike Folga ‘86. Folga obtained a degree in Sports Medicine from Mercyhurst, and later returned to his alma mater as the equipment manager for the men’s hockey team for 18 years.

After his sudden passing last year, Folga is posthumously being honored through this award and through this year’s Senior Class Gift scholarship as well.

There is also a whole list of past recipients in Old Main.

All alumni are welcome to celebrate alongside those who will be recognized. This is a weekend alumni will never forget.

If you or friends have any questions about Reunion Weekend, contact Frank at lfrank@mercyhurst.com or go to https://www.mercyhurst.edu/alumni/reunion-week-end-2020#schedule.