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Alvernia Lecture Series

Expand your mind with inspirational, thought-provoking lectures at Alvernia University.

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About the Alvernia Lecture Series Each year, Alvernia University offers inspirational thought-provoking lectures that explore important topics for a variety of audiences. All Lecture Series events are free and open to the public.

Featured annual lectures include:

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Founders Day Lecture Officially kicking off Alvernia’s Lecture series each fall is the annual Founders Day Lecture, celebrating the university’s foundresses by exploring a mission-centered topic. The Founders Day Lecture tradition began in 2008, as part of Alvernia’s 50th anniversary commemoration.

The Francis Factor Series A new series launched in 2016, “The Francis Factor: Past, Present, Future” is sponsored by Alvernia University’s Mission Integration Office. Topics delve into Pope Francis as a servant leader and explore ways he is influencing the embrace of the Gospel in the Church and wider world.

First-Year Seminar Lecture Designed specifically for new college students, Alvernia’s First Year Seminar promotes academic success, personal growth and community engagement by emphasizing the expectations and values of Alvernia’s academic community. It helps students become aware, active and intentional learners. As part of the course, all first-year students study a common reading focusing on issues of social justice, poverty, diversity or other topics related to the mission of the university. Frequently, the common reading is linked to the freshman Day of Service, as well as a lecture featuring the author of the book.

O’Pake Lecture The annual O’Pake Lecture at Alvernia University features prominent public figures focusing on issues related to civility, ethics, leadership and public service, in memory of Pennsylvania Senator and Alvernia Board of Trustees member, Michael O’Pake. Sen. O’Pake was a lifelong resident of Berks County, growing up in a public housing project in the city. A devout Catholic, O’Pake was first elected to the

Pennsylvania Senate in 1972 after two terms in the state House of Representatives. He was re-elected every four years for nearly four decades, and was the longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Throughout his career, he was a tireless and effective advocate for children, seniors and the disadvantaged.

Interfaith Lecture Since 2012, the Holleran Center for Community Engagement has sponsored an annual lecture on Interfaith Dialogue, an important area of focus for Alvernia. Rooted in the inclusive mission of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, Interfaith Lectures are designed to illustrate the notion that there is more that unites us than divides us, and that discussion can help overcome stereotypes and fears that often divide members of different faiths. Previous speakers in this series have included Rabbi Howard Hirsch, Eboo Patel, Dr. Ingrid Mattson and Dr. Leo Lefebure.

Batdorf Lecture The annual Batdorf Lecture, supported by the Berks Bar Association, promotes dialogue on contemporary ethical issues important for both students and the local community.

Hesburgh Lecture

Each spring, Alvernia hosts a Hesburgh Lecture that both embodies the university’s core values and brings attention to topics that are relevant to today’s local and global communities. Supported by the Notre Dame Club of Reading, Hesburgh lectures are presented by Notre Dame faculty members on topics related to art, architecture, business, communications, contemporary social issues, economics, environment, ethics, government, history, law, social concerns and many more. A l ve r n i a L e c t u r e S e r i e s


About the Literary Festival

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Since 2006, Alvernia’s annual Literary Festival has brought a wide-range of award-winning authors and unique events to the university. Commonly, attendees have an opportunity to personally meet featured authors and ask questions during an open reception, which is followed by a formal lecture. The authors’ latest works are often available for purchase, and many speakers will sign books during their visits. All Literary Festival events are free and open to the public.

About the John Updike Archive Alvernia University is home to the John Updike Archive, which includes three major assortments: the Rachael C. Burchard Papers, the Larry C. Randen Collection, and the David Silcox/Thelma Lewis Collection. Because the archive offers a wide range of materials related to Updike’s Pulitzer Prize winning work, it serves as a significant resource for both scholars and students. Contact the Dr. Frank A. Franco Library Learning Center to schedule a viewing.

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The Arts Are Alive at Alvernia

About The Performing Arts Series For more than 50 years, Alvernia has been providing a dynamic environment for students and community members to experience arts and cultural events. Whether through student performances or guest artists, the arts are alive at Alvernia!

Visit us online for details about ticketed musical events and theatre performances.

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About The Miller Gallery Named after Marlin and Regina (Ginger) Miller — local arts supporters and long time supporters of Alvernia and the community — the 640 square foot Miller Gallery houses artwork by regional artists and Alvernia students.

Visit us online for a full listing of Miller Gallery exhibits.

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About The Centers for Excellence

Holleran Center for Community Engagement In 2008, Alvernia received a generous gift from T. Jerome and Carolyn Holleran, a Berks County couple with a passion for community service and a personal record of meaningful community engagement. The gift of $3 million included capital to enhance the work of the center in the Reading community as well as provisions to permanently endow it. Rooted in the Franciscan identity of Alvernia University and its mission as a teaching and learning institution, the Holleran Center identifies, cultivates and sustains strategic partnerships to strengthen both campus and community life. By making these community partnerships an essential part of the curriculum, the Holleran Center strives to foster the university mission and improve the quality of life in our community and to develop in its students a lifelong commitment to service as engaged citizens. In addition to a number of community service, sustainability, service-learning and interfaith initiatives, the Holleran Center’s current projects include: • Bog Turtle Creek Farm • Foster Grandparent Program • Reading Collegiate Scholars Program • South Reading Youth Initiative

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O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service Throughout its history, Alvernia University has aimed not only to develop students’ intellectual promise but also to foster ethical and moral perspectives and emphasize their leadership potential. The O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service — named for longtime Alvernia board member Sen. Michael O’Pake, who passed away in December 2010 — seeks to build on this tradition. The institute continues to be a nucleus for dialogue on contemporary ethical and leadership issues, with a focus on promoting interdisciplinary discourse around social justice and Franciscan values.

O’Pake Film Series Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service collaborates with community partners to bring a classic series of films and panel discussions to Berks County, focusing on topics of ethical leadership. All showings are free and open to the public and are held from 6-9 p.m., in the Bernardine Lecture Hall on Alvernia’s main campus.

O’Pake Institute projects include: • The Berks County Vital Signs report — a joint venture with the Berks County Community Foundation and the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College to explore key community issues in Berks County. • The Oakbrook Health Project — a study of healthcare access in two low-income housing developments in Reading.

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Alvernia’s Mission Guided by Franciscan values and the ideal of “knowledge joined with love,” and rooted in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions, Alvernia is a rigorous, caring and inclusive learning community committed to academic excellence and to being and fostering: • Broadly educated, lifelong learners; • Reflective professionals and engaged citizens; • And ethical leaders with moral courage.


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A Distinctive Franciscan University Alvernia was founded in 1958 by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, members of a Catholic women’s religious order who emigrated more than 100 years ago from Eastern Europe to Eastern Pennsylvania to teach and serve immigrant miners’ families. The university’s core institutional values — service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking — extend from the faith of these Franciscan founders.

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Alvernia Seniors College Alvernia’s Seniors College offers senior citizens (age 55 and over) a unique opportunity for lifelong learning. Alvernia University sponsors this program as part of its mission to be of service to the community. Each year, three semesters of Seniors College classes offer approximately 20-25 courses each session, running the gamut from computer classes to English literature. (Contact Sally Reading at 610.796.8357 to register.)

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Campus Map

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About the Venues


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Francis Hall Theater & Miller Gallery Francis Hall, home to the Theater and Miller Art Gallery, is the original building on Alvernia’s campus. It is a four-story structure of Pueblo red brick built in the California Mission style in 1926. The flexible space of the theater provides a first-class venue for many different styles of performances.

Bernardine Lecture Hall In 2010 the heavily-used lecture hall in Bernardine Hall was transformed into an impressive high-tech space that is an ideal venue for many uses. Classes, lectures, comedians and movie nights keep the lecture hall filled on a daily basis.

Dr. Frank A. Franco Library, Bonaventure Room The Bonaventure Room is located in the center of Alvernia’s beautiful library and is normally home to scores of students researching projects in a group setting. The open space is often transformed to host events or exhibits and can easily accommodate large groups for lectures and formal campus announcements.

McGlinn Conference & Spirituality Center The McGlinn Conference & Spirituality Center is located adjacent to the home of the university’s sponsoring congregation, the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters. With a lovely view in every season, the conference center is a peaceful environment for retreats, lectures or seminars.

Crusader Café Located inside Alvernia University’s Student Center, the Crusader Café offers the ambiance of a small coffeehouse, complete with artistic lighting and a corner stage. Live musical and poetry performances and other events are regularly held here.

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400 St. Bernardine Street | Reading, Pennsylvania, 19607 888.ALVERNIA |


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Alvernia Lecture Series 2016-17  

Learn about Alvernia University's annual Lecture Series.

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