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Mercyhurst honors Distinguished Alumni

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mercyhurst University honored six outstanding graduates as Distinguished Alumni during its annual Reunion Weekend, held June 9-11 on the Erie campus.

More than 300 Mercyhurst alumni and their families returned to campus for Reunion Weekend, which also featured induction of former student-athletes into the Mercyhurst Athletics Hall of Fame and special celebrations for classes marking milestone anniversaries, including the 50-year Class of 1967. To mark their golden anniversary, members of the class created the Class of 1967 Endowed Scholarship with a gift of more than $37,000.

The Award for Outstanding Achievement in a Chosen Field was presented to John Saxon ’89, chief executive officer and director of dlhBOWLES, the leading supplier of air and fluid management products to the automotive industry.

The company was formed in 2015 with the merger of two very successful rival companies – DLH Industries, Inc., and Bowles Fluidics Corporation. Saxon had been President and CEO of DLH since 2004, leading the company to double-digit growth for six consecutive years. The company earned the coveted General Motors Supplier of the Year Award six times. After the merger, he was chosen to lead the new company, which employs more than 2,200 people worldwide, with manufacturing and distribution locations in Ohio, Maryland, Texas, Mexico and Italy.

A certified public accountant, John also earned an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. He serves on Mercyhurst’s Board of Trustees.

Awards for Outstanding Service to the Community went to Sister Catherine Edward Delaney, RSM ’66 and Maureen Aleci Gray ’65.

Sister Catherine Edward Delaney taught piano and choral music in diocesan schools, and earned a master’s degree in music education from Duquesne.

Early in her teaching career, she hypothesized that if preschool age children were exposed to arts and music, they would learn all they needed to be ready for kindergarten – and develop a lifelong interest in the arts. She and Patricia Daley developed a preschool curriculum that encouraged creativity and learning through art and music. Forty-seven years later, the Mercy Center of the Arts is still going strong with the addition of science and dramatic movement to the curriculum.

Sister also later studied nursing and developed Wellsprings, a program for the older sisters residing at the motherhouse. She continued to work in both ministries until she retired in 2013.

A Carpe Diem Award winner at Mercyhurst, Gray enjoyed two successful – but very different – careers, first teaching English and French for 21 years, and then retraining to serve as an investment counselor. She retired this year from that second career.

But she is best known for her work to better her community. The Bancroft School gave her its Robert W. Stoddard Award for Outstanding Community Service, calling her “someone who works behind the scenes connecting people to organizations to help make our community thrive.”

Gray has served on the boards of many organizations, including Girls, Inc., Worcester Junior League, Seven Hills Foundation and the Women's Initiative of United Way of Central Massachusetts. United Way gave her its Lois B. Green Leadership Award, recognizing in particular her work promoting teen financial literacy.

Awards for Outstanding Service to Mercyhurst were presented to Michael Malpiedi ’81 and Sister Patricia Whalen, RSM ’63.

Malpiedi has been part of the Erie radio market since 1991, when he joined the sales force for Rocket 101.

In 2014, Connoisseur Media named him general manager for its cluster of six stations in Erie, covering just about every format and demographic. He’s proud that Connoisseur stations feature local personalities, are major sponsors for local events, and regularly partner with local charities.

Michael joined the Mercyhurst Alumni Board in the 1990s, eventually serving for 16 years while the board’s role grew from planning Homecoming festivities to serving as a voice for alumni with the college administration. He was the board’s president from 2002 to 2010, was the first alumni board president to sit on the college’s Board of Trustees, and served on the presidential search committee that named President Tom Gamble.

Sister Patricia Whalen returned to Mercyhurst in 1970 to join the education faculty, developing and teaching courses in elementary curriculum and methods.

She oversaw the Cadet Teaching Program, preparing students to handle full-time teaching assignments during their junior and senior years. She continued coordinating the cadet teacher program as well as supervising the pre-teaching internship for education majors even after she gave up her regular teaching load to join the Sisters of Mercy leadership team.

Returning to campus in 1997, she served as assistant academic dean and later as registrar, retiring in 2016. As the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas works to create a single community with one leadership team. Sr. Pat is serving on a transition team to facilitate that process for the New York Pennsylvania West Community.

The Outstanding Young Alumnus Award went to Simon Arias ’05.

Arias joined the sales force with American Income Life right after graduation. Today, at just 33, he’s an agency owner with 12 locations in five states and sits on the company’s executive council. In 2011 and 2012 he was named AIL’s agency owner of the year internationally.

Simon is also active in community service, helping establish a branch of “Inspiring Minds” in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. The agency works to inspire at-risk youth to reach their full potential by providing education and other life-changing experiences.

His video blog – called The GRIND, for Get Ready It’s a New Day – offers daily motivational and educational messages.

A football player at the Hurst, Simon has led groups of alumni to develop the Alumni Hill area and the new video scoreboard at Tullio Field.

To read more about this year’s inductees to the Mercyhurst Athletic Hall of Fame, visit


TOP PHOTO: Seated, Sister Catherine Edward Delaney, RSM ’66 and Sister Patricia Whalen, RSM ’63; standing, Michael Malpiedi ’81, Simon Arias ’05 and John Saxon ’89.

BOTTOM PHOTO: Maureen Aleci Gray ’65.