History of the Alumni Association

The Alumni Association from 1933 to Present

 The beginnings of the Carlow University Alumni Association brought forth various activities, which included alumni and students, to form the Carlow Community. These bridges created a strong bond between Carlow and the community at large.

Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, the Alumni Association sponsored senior dinners, discussion clubs, card and swim parties, annual dances, Christmas parties, fashion shows, and teas for incoming freshman. It was at these points in time that Alumni began to sponsor the annual fund, scholarship benefits, the annual building fund, and alumni reunions. As the Alumni Association grew, elections were held for new officers and this growth eventually necessitated the creation of the position of Director of the Alumni Association. Monthly updates were published in the McAuleyan (the student newspaper) and an alumni newsletter began publication.

Though the organization has changed over the years, its original mission remains the same and it continues to be committed to serving the needs of the alumni and the Carlow community as a whole. Below is a more detailed account of the development of the Alumni Association. Its history has grown rich alongside the University.

  • At the suggestions of Sister M. Regis (Grace), then dean of Mount Mercy College, members of the first graduating class formed the Alumni Association. In June 1933, the founding members met in the parlor of Saint Mary’s Convent for the initial formation meeting.
  • Charter members of the group were: Sarah McQuade Connell, Mary Beck, Florence Brighenti, Marie Dezort, Dorothy Engle, Helen Greene, Mary Catherine King, Angela Laurent, Alyce McKeever, Marguerite Manella, Katherine O’Loughlin, Jean Pannier, Anna Scheib, Irma Snelsire, and Kathleen Wynne; members of the first graduating class.
  • Irma Snelsire was elected first president of the Alumni Association and the organization began organizing and sponsoring events to: entertain incoming freshmen; induct new graduating classes; elect board members, fund the Mount Mercy Alumni Scholarship Fund (created in 1936); forward life-long learning through the monthly Study Club begun in 1938; promote a forum for the expression of the arts through the creation of the Alumni Music Group; and promote the religious tradition of the College through Alumni retreats. It is during the Association’s early years that the first by-laws were written.
  • Sister Regis Grace asked her to serve as the moderator of the Alumni Association. In the mid-forties, Sister Rose Marie set up the first Alumni Relations Office in Antonian Hall (adjacent to the Lobby). All alumni files were centralized here giving the Alumni Association “a home” on campus.
  • In August 1959, the college administration engaged Mary T. Strauss ’57 as full time executive secretary (later the titled the director of alumni relations) to the Mount Mercy College Alumni Association. The main duties of the executive secretary were to publish the alumni newsletter and to manage the Annual Giving Fund which was founded and launched by Ruth Kane Tobin ’51 during the 1958-59 fiscal year.
  • In the late '70s, the Alumni Office became increasingly responsible for the Alumni Fund as part of the Annual Fund and in 1981 Anita Sammartino Dacal ’69, who was hired to reinstate alumni programs, became director of alumni relations. From 1981-1985 the Alumni Office’s main focus was to create alumni programming in order to involve alumni once again with the college and to promote the Alumni Fund. By 1991, the Alumni Office became completely responsible for administering all of the Alumni Annual Fund along with the fund drives for other Carlow constituencies.
  • The Alumni Office maintained all the traditional programs; consulted to the Development Office for the Alumni Fund and became active in the area of career support for both students and alumni. Through the Alumni Mentor Program, the Alumni Office paired students with alumni working in the fields to which the students aspire. Through “THE NET,” begun in 1991, the Alumni Association helped alumni help each other to achieve their career goals.
  • Throughout the '90s, several Carlow alumni held the director position. Rebecca Bennett Biddle ’86 succeeded Anita Dacal as the director of alumni relations when Dacal was named executive director of advancement. Biddle went on to become the director of advancement planning and administration and was succeeded by RoseAnn Opferman ’93, who was followed by Kathleen Totten ’92, and then by acting director of alumni relations, Jennifer Kennedy ’93.
  • Linda Madden-Brenholts ‘88 diligently served as director of alumni relations from September 1999 until 2008, when she became director of the Carlow Fund, Linda retired in 2011.
  • In 2009, Penny Schnarrs became director of alumni relations.
  • In 2010, Rose Woolley became director of alumni relations.
  • In 2012, the Alumni Association officially made the change from "Alumnae/i" to "Alumni."
  • In 2016, Lachelle N. Binion '03 '11 '13 became Director of Alumni Engagement.
  • Today, the Carlow University Alumni Relations office is currently located on the third floor of the West Wing of the Sisters of Mercy Convent at 3333 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Information gathered, added, and verified by the Carlow University Archives Department.