A magazine for NEUMANN UNIVERSITY alumni, family, and friends

Accent, Summer 2023, Volume 51, No. 2 - View past issues

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Tribute to Dr. Rosalie Mirenda

President Emeritus


It rained on Commencement Day at Neumann, the day on which Dr. Rosalie Mirenda passed away. Even the heavens mourned as the longtime university president “graduated” with the Class of 2023.

Soon after the news reached campus, Dr. Chris Domes captured the mood of the community. “It is with a heavy heart that I share sad news of the passing of Dr. Rosalie Mirenda, President Emeritus of Neumann University,” he wrote. “Rosalie served students with passion and committed herself to living the mission and values of Neumann University for over four decades as a professor, academic leader, and for twenty-one of those years, as president.”

Dr. Rosalie M. Mirenda was president of Neumann University from 1996 to 2017. From the moment she took the helm of the institution, she forged a reputation as a tireless advocate and savvy visionary. Under her leadership, enrollment tripled, annual and capital giving increased, the campus expanded from 14 to 68 acres, new academic programs were added, athletic teams grew from 9 to 23, and state of the art residence halls were built to accommodate more than 700 students.

Athletic fields were added, and laboratories, the library, and the chapel were renovated to ensure appropriate environments for student learning, growth, and success.

In 2009, Neumann achieved university status and opened the Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development, a 72,000 square foot facility named in honor of Dr. Mirenda and her husband, Tony. Designed to be more than an athletic center, the building uses exhibits and storytelling to provide a new perspective on sports, one that goes beyond the obvious element of competition to address the myriad ways in which students learns life lessons, develop character, and deepen spirituality through sports.

Dr. Mirenda was always committed to the Catholic Franciscan mission of the university, which is based on the belief that knowledge, while valuable in itself, is best used in the service of others. She embraced this distinctive identity in word and deed.

She served on the boards of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the PA Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Seton Hall University, Archmere Academy, Holy Child Academy, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, the World Meeting of Families 2015, and more. Through her efforts, Neumann spearheaded the formation of Drexel Neumann Academy in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Mirenda was recognized by countless organizations for her steadfast faith, distinguished character and numerous accomplishments. She received the Benemerenti Medal (2016) from Pope Francis, the Gary Papa Award (2013) from the Delaware County Community Foundation, the Sons of Italy Distinguished Achievement Award (2013), the Sourin Award (2012) from the Catholic Philopatrian Society, the Catholic Graduate Hall of Fame Award (2011) from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Woman on the Move Award (2011) from Main Line Times, The Keys and Sword Award (2011) from Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, the Catholic Leadership Institute Award (2010), the Outstanding Alumnus Award (2006) from Widener University, the Pontifical Honor of the Cross, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (2003), and the Nursing Alumna Award (1999) from Villanova University. In 2005, Dr. Mirenda was awarded an honorary degree from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Dr. Mirenda earned her Ph.D. from Widener University, her MSN from the University of Pennsylvania, and her B. S. in Nursing from Villanova University. She is survived by Anthony D. Mirenda, her husband of 62 years, three children and five grandchildren.