The Misericordia University Board of Trustees honored four people at the annual Trustee Associates Gala on Saturday, whose leadership, generosity, dedication and benevolence has enabled the institution of higher education to fully live its Catholic mission and evolve into a nationally ranked University.
Trustee emeritus Sherry A. Manetta and Barbara A. Soyka received the Trustee Associates Award at the annual gala for demonstrating outstanding dedication, service and generosity in support of Misericordia University. Manetta, a member of the Class of 1972, served her alma mater for 15 years as a respected trustee. Soyka, a retired English teacher at Coughlin High School for 38 years and generous benefactor to a number of Misericordia initiatives, passed away in March. Agnes A. Toloczko Cardoni, a member of the Class of 1969, accepted the award on behalf of Soyka.
Sidney Friedman, a local businessperson and philanthropist, and Mary Elizabeth “Liz” Rienzo Noll, a member of the Class of 1947, received the inaugural Mercy Mission Medals for their lifetime commitment to Misericordia, and for sharing their expertise and treasure to advance the University’s mission and core values.
“All of our honorees hold a well-deserved position of distinction among Misericordia University benefactors,’’ said President Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D., about those being honored at the Huntsville Golf Club. “Our students and alumni benefit from the generosity of many individuals and organizations, and those donors who we honor with our Trustee Associates Award and new Mercy Mission Medal are among our most caring and consequential contributors to student success.’’
Ms. Manetta received her Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics, cum laude, from Misericordia. She thoroughly lives the mission and fully displays Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality through her many actions and deeds in her personal and professional lives. A highly successful businessperson in the insurance and financial services industries, she has held prominent positions at Ernst & Young, Aetna, HealthRight, Inc., The Phoenix Companies, Conning Investment Management Co., and Glenwood Strategies LLC.
Throughout her career, Ms. Manetta has given back to her communities through her volunteer work. At Community Partners in Action, she advocated for criminal justice reform. She also has served on the boards of numerous nonprofits in Connecticut, Illinois and New York that focused on social justice and education. At Misericordia, she and her husband endowed the Brian Harvey and Sherry Manetta ’72 Scholarship for the Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children Program. In addition, they continue to support many other worthwhile programs and initiatives.
Ms. Manetta and her husband, Brian Harvey, live in Avon, Connecticut.
Misericordia will forever know Ms. Soyka as a great friend and benefactor. A certified master gardener and an expert on Shakespeare, her love and devotion to Misericordia began when she helped design the authentic Sister Regina Kelly Shakespeare Garden on campus. She subsequently established the Barbara Soyka Endowed Fund for the ongoing care of the Shakespeare Garden.
In subsequent years, Ms. Soyka also established the Soyka Women Endowed Scholarship for the Bourger Women with Children Program and then collaborated to endow the Barbara Soyka/Charlotte Newcombe Endowed Scholarship for Mature Women. A native of Kingston, Ms. Soyka founded the Soyka Fund for the Humanities in support of her passion for the humanities. The fund generously supports a wide range of lectures, projects and exhibits at Misericordia University.
Mr. Friedman, his late wife, Pauline “Pauly” Friedman and their children have been among the University’s most dedicated benefactors. Misericordia’s art gallery and a home for the Bourger Women with Children Program bear the family name.
Mrs. Friedman’s close relationship with Misericordia began in the early 1970s when she was among the community leaders recruited for a new advisory board to the Board of Trustees. She enthusiastically joined and served as vice chairperson for a number of years. A follower of the arts, she served as the first president of the Misericordia art gallery in 1977, and worked to improve its resources and facilities. She also was among the founders of the Ethics Institute of Northeastern Pennsylvania at Misericordia University.
In 1991, the family endowed the Sidney and Pauline Friedman Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a worthy student majoring in physical therapy. The family also endowed the Pauly and Sidney Friedman Excellence in Service Award that is given annually to a member of the faculty in recognition of their service to the University and greater community.
In 2004, the University recognized the couple’s generosity and leadership by awarding them the Trustee Associates Award. Mrs. Friedman passed away in 2008 after a lengthy illness. A year later, the University memorialized her with the official dedications of the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery and the Pauly House for the Bourger Women with Children Program.
The family has remained engaged with Misericordia, as the couple’s son, Rob Friedman, served on the Board of Trustees from 2011-14.
Mr. Friedman lives in Kingston.
An active alumna, stellar class agent, energetic class president and emerita member of the alumni board, Mrs. Noll is a storyteller who loves returning to campus and speaking with current students about how her years at Misericordia changed her life. Since earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology cum laude, she has participated in as many as 116 alumni gatherings in Florida, on campus and online. A scholarship recipient, she credits Misericordia for positively influencing her future, and that of her 10 children and 48 grandchildren.
Mrs. Noll’s sister Bernadette Rienzo ’59, late daughter Alma Noll ’75 and grandchildren, Lynn Babbitt Urban ’01 and Michele Melillo Babbitt ’05 also are Misericordia alumni. In honor of her 80th birthday, Mrs. Noll’s family established the Dean and Liz Rienzo Noll ’47 Scholarship. Academically deserving first-year students with three or more siblings and financial need receive the award.
Misericordia recognized Mrs. Noll’s dedication in 2003 by presenting her the Mission Award for exemplifying the mission of the University as established by the Sisters of Mercy. She also received the Mother Mary Catharine McGann Alumni Achievement Award in 1984 for distinguished and sustained career accomplishments as a truant officer in New York City and an educator in New Jersey.
Mrs. Noll lives in Mount Arlington, New Jersey.