Sr. Mary Persico travels throughout the country for ‘listening tour’


During an event in Lehigh Valley hosted by Marywood class of 1970 alumna Paula Talerico Bomboy, Persico met alumni, incoming students from the Lehigh Valley area and their parents. Photo courtesy of University Advancement Office

Brooke Williams, Asst. News Editor

Marywood President Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D traveled to various parts of the country during this academic year to engage with people who have ties to the university.

She will continue going on these trips into the end of the semester and during the summer as part of her “listening tour” with the University Advancement Office.

Some of Persico’s past stops include Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Boston, the Lehigh Valley area and Florida. Some of her upcoming trips include Atlanta this month, Bethesda, Maryland, and San Juan, Puerto Rico in May and Long Island, New York, in June or July.

According to Vice President for University Advancement Dr. Renée Zehel, the idea behind the listening tour was to give Marywood alumni an opportunity to meet Persico, hear her vision and ask her questions.

“That’s why it’s called a listening tour… [Sr. Mary gets] an opportunity to hear from alumni directly… how they feel about the university, what they’d like to see to be part of that vision for the university and how they’d like to be connected or engaged with the university,” Zehel said.

Over 300 people have participated in the tour. Marywood alumni, trustees, former trustees and friends of the university have hosted different events, Zehel said.

Persico said alumni often tell her how the liberal arts core curriculum at Marywood benefited them in their professional and personal lives, and how they did not realize its importance until after leaving Marywood.

Persico said she will take these opinions into consideration during the study of the core curriculum suggested from the final SRA report released last semester.

“It just helped them [alumni] to be able to engage with the world in a better way. That was one thing that keeps coming back to me when we’re talking about revamping the core curriculum,” Persico said. “I want to make sure we don’t let go of some of things things that people said have been valuable to them.”

According to Zehel, the listening tour serves another purpose besides hearing the concerns of alumni.

“Part of her listening is certainly hearing what alumni would like to see from their alma mater… but it’s also an opportunity for her to say- here’s the great things that your alma mater has been up to if you’re not aware of them,” Zehel said.

Some of the news Persico shares with alumni include the accomplishments of current students and faculty, new campus projects like the future amphitheatre set to replace the Learning Resource Center and events like Giving Day, Zehel said.

Persico said she enjoys hearing the stories of Marywood alumni because many of them became leaders with incredible skills and do good work in various parts of the world.

“The main thing was people were very proud of their Marywood degree and their time spent at Marywood,” Persico said. “They felt that there was something very warm and endearing that brought them to Marywood and [that] keeps them connected… It gives them a bond with Marywood.”

Additionally, Persico dedicated part of her listening tour to former Marywood faculty.

“They loved being here as faculty, and now they’re retired and they’re interested about what’s going on back here on campus,” she said.

Persico added that she is even considering having a listening tour on campus with current students, faculty and staff.

“Listening to people out there is great, but it’s the people here that are keeping Marywood going, and who are the face of Marywood to the public right now,” she said.

In the future, Persico said she plans to continue having listening tours with alumni.

“It’s just been one of the highlights of my year,” Persico said. “I know we’ll continue to go to visit alumni in various parts of the world, especially the United States, and I look forward to that. It’s always a great experience.”

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