The Franciscan University of Steubenville's Founders' Award was established in 1978 with a simple mission to honor the men, women and organizations for their contributions to the university and the community at large.
That spirit could be seen Saturday, when the university recognized nine faculty and staff members who showed their dedication to the school during its bad times.
Each of those who were honored during the 63rd-annual dinner, held at the Gentile Gallery, were willing to make big sacrifices in their lives while supporting the mission of the Rev. Michael Scanlan, TOR, who lifted the financially strapped College of Steubenville into a nationally and internationally recognized school.
Included in that group were John Herrmann, the late Raymond Petrilla, Edwin Bessler, James Slater, Virginia Zoric, Joseph Zoric, Irene Pizzoferrato, Norman Rokke and Earl Spinnenwebber. They each served the university in a different way, but they all made a big difference in the lives of the students or other staff and faculty members.
According to the Rev. Terrence Henry, TOR, the university's president, this year's honorees helped the school stay open and grow, filling vital roles at a crucial time in its history.
And, while those nine were being recognized for what they have done for the school, several current students were honored with scholarships as the Founders' Scholars, Rose M. DeFede Women's Guild Scholars and the Academy of Lifelong Learning Scholar were all named.
It was a chance to reflect on the spirit first demonstrated on Dec. 7, 1949, when the first Founders' Dinner was held at the Fort Steuben Hotel.
That dinner fulfilled the desire of the Rev. Dan Egan, TOR, the school's first president, to help draw together the then-college and the civic community.
Last Saturday's event also helped to connect the recipient of the first Founders' Award, Samuel Freifield, with all of those who helped the school and our community grow.
And in so doing, the annual Founders' Association Dinner helps the university honor its past while looking to the future.