Engaging Digitally While Distancing: The New Normal

When the pandemic hit, the University embarked upon a number of digital initiatives designed to strengthen the purple tie that binds the alumni community together.

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The University of Scranton Book Club

While The University of Scranton Book Club launched in February, it quickly picked up steam during the early weeks of the pandemic. The club, which meets via Zoom, gives Royals the chance to participate in online group discussions and video conference reflections led by the Rev. Patrick D. Rogers, S.J., executive director of The Jesuit Center, the Rev. James D. Redington, S.J., Jesuit fellow at The Jesuit Center, and Ryan Sheehan, assistant director of The Jesuit Center. Since February, hundreds of Royals have discussed Tattoos On The Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle, S.J., The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, S.J. H’17, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Gregory Boyle, S.J., and The Power And The Glory by Graham Greene. To join the club or to learn more, visit scranton.edu/bookclub. 

Shamrockin’ In Spirit

Although Shamrockin’ Eve was canceled for the first time in its 12-year history, 250 students and recent grads chose to donate their registration fees to the University’s SEED program, providing nearly $8,000 of tuition funds to K-9th grade students at the Santa Luisa School in El Salvador. Thanks to their efforts, the SEED program was able to fund the tuition of more than 130 children for an entire academic year.  

Iggy Color Challenge


In March, Royals and their family members were given the opportunity to participate in the Iggy Color Challenge by coloring in a black and white illustration of school mascot Iggy the Royal Wolf it had posted on social media. The Alumni Society Advisory Board chose submissions from Brian E. ’02, Bridget K. ’23 and Emma B. ’36 as the winning entries.   

Virtual Masses

During Holy Week, the University held its first virtual Mass with the University Community. The Rev. Herbert B. Keller, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry, celebrated the Mass while the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., president of the University, delivered a special introduction. Since then, the University has celebrated a virtual Mass honoring the Feast of Saint Joseph The Worker on May 1, virtual Mass for the Class of 2020 and a virtual Reunion Mass for alumni from class years ending in “0” and “5” that were originally scheduled to celebrate their Reunion in June. 

PBC Webinar Series


The President’s Business Council (PBC) launched a webinar series in April with “Outbreaks, Responses and COVID-19,” a virtual lecture given by Col. James F. Cummings, M.D. ’88, H’15, USA (Ret.), president of ICON Government and Public Health Solutions, Inc. Subsequent webinars included “Can Venture Capital Save Climate Change?” by Bill Brady ’83, P’12, founding CEO and director of Kula Bio, co-founder and director of Monolith Materials and partner in Clean Energy Venture Group, and “A New World Economy Post COVID-19” by John D. Dionne ’86, H’10, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, senior advisor at Blackstone and managing partner at Franconia Capital Advisory. To view these PBC Webinars, visit Scranton.edu/pbcwebinars 

FANS Virtual Coffee & Conversation with Scranton Alumni

Also in April, the Future Alumni Network of Scranton held a Virtual Coffee & Conversation event attended by 52 students and 19 University alumni. The conversation was based around navigating difficult job markets and maintaining a positive attitude throughout the various high and low points of a career.  

The Council of Alumni Lawyers

In May, 40 alumni lawyers attended Virtual Lawyers & Libations, an event held by the Council of Alumni Lawyers (CAL). Attendees met via Zoom to discuss topics like remote lawyering, COVID-19 law firm operations, and cybersecurity while focusing on the overarching question of “What does the future look like?” For more information, visit Scranton.edu/CAL.   

Class of 2020 Toast

Over Commencement Weekend, the members of the Class of 2020 gathered digitally for a celebratory toast to their success led by Fahad Ashraf ‘20, president of the Class of 2020, Alumni Society President Mike Short ’99, and Father Pilarz.  

Philadelphia Quizzo Night

Also in May, more than 50 alumni accepted the Scranton Club of Philadelphia’s invitation to attend a Virtual Quizzo Night hosted by the Rev. Adam Rosinski, S.J. ’07. While all 12 participating teams displayed an impressive command of trivial knowledge, in the end, Rosenbergs ’86, a team consisting of the Honorable Lynne Sitarski ’86, Diane Smith ’86, Maureen Gallagher McAllister ’86, Ellen Dunnigan Winter ’86, and Meg Hargreaves ’86, proved victorious.  

Purple Lounge

The University held a virtual dance party on Saturday, June 13, for alumni from class years ending in “0” and “5.” Royals who visited the link to the festivities were greeted with messages from Barry Williams, the actor who played Greg Brady on “The Brady Bunch,” pop singer Debbie Gibson, Anthony Michael Hall, the actor best known for his roles in “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles” and “Weird Science,” hip-hop legend Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Kate Flannery, the actor who played Meredith on “The Office.” To see the video, visit Scranton.edu/reunion.  

Class of 1990 Virtual Reunion

On the same night, more than 70 members of the Class of 1990 gathered via Zoom for a virtual “reunion” on what would have been the Saturday of Reunion Weekend, where they were greeted by a toast from Joe Hanlon ’90. More than 100 members of the class submitted video clips to a virtual class Reunion video that premiered on YouTube that same evening. To see the video, visit Scranton.edu/reunion 

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