SHU kicks off centennial celebration with seven-figure donation

From left to right: Bishop Edward C. Malesic, Ruth Grant, Sister Catherine Meinert and SHU President Mary Finger gather for a photo before the centennial kickoff toast, which took place on Jan. 26 in Cecilian Hall. Photo by C.Arida/Setonian.

Seton Hill University announced a seven-figure donation to create the Ruth O’Block Grant Endowed Scholarship on Jan. 26. Grant Verstandig, founder and CEO of Rally Health, pledged the donation to support entrepreneurship, business, health and technology at SHU. Verstandig is the grandson of Ruth O’Block Grant, a SHU board of trustees chair.

The announcement came on the same day SHU officially celebrated the kickoff to the Centennial, a year dedicated to the past 100 years and more to come.

“By the end of the centennial year we hope to have 100 new or increased student scholarships,” said President Mary Finger during her remarks at the kickoff.

The sound of glasses chiming filled Cecilian Hall as students, alumni, faculty and community members toasted to 100 years of SHU. Roughly 300 people filled Cecilian Hall to hear remarks from Finger, Sister Catherine Meinert, Provincial Superior of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and a blessing by Bishop Edward C. Malesic.

Prior to the remarks made in Cecilian Hall, attendees strolled the second Admin hallway where a timeline, designed and donated by Barbara Kerestes-Martin, a SHU class of 1980 alumna, fills the wall. Beginning in 1918 with the first president, Mother Mary Joseph, to the 2018 Centennial logo, designed by Breanna Kelly, class of 2016, the timeline highlights major events and milestones throughout the 100-year history of SHU.

Students from the 100th graduating class (the class of 2018) joined alumni from 2017 all the way back to the 1950s, reflecting on the last 100 years and decades to come. The kickoff was the first of many events to come during this year-long celebration.

“The biggest event to come would probably be Lunch with Liz in March,” said Jen Reeger, director of media relations at SHU. “The theme is 100 years forward. It’s going to be a look back at the 100 years with a moving timeline where students are going to act out parts of our history.”

Reeger mentioned another event to look forward to is the Sister Mary Schmidt lecture series on March 15. Schmidt served as president of SHU from 1971 to 1977. She taught in the English department for more than 20 years and served as executive vice president and director of alumni relations. Craig Mousin will give the lecture in Cecilian Hall.

For more information on the Centennial and events to come, visit

Published By: Paige Parise

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