While Esther Krasevac and I were having lunch at the Shillington Chinese restaurant in Reading, Pennsylvania, our conversation drifted casually as she vividly began to recall memories of her early days at Alvernia. Esther Krasevac, Vice President for Development, is leaving Alvernia after serving in this capacity for six years. She expresses herself very earnestly and thoughtfully.
She emphasizes that Alvernia is a Franciscan Mission oriented college with prodigious growth. As this growth of Alvernia continues to pass through the changing progressive cycles, Esther foresees a continuous expansion in size and quality in the next fifty years.
Alvernia College was founded by the Congregation of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, whose past General Minister was Sister Mary Margaret Jackson. Esther found her to be extremely understanding and a very humble woman. At present, there are very few Sisters at the college. She says that during the yearly Phon-a-thon many wonderful comments were expressed by the Alumni about the religious faculty. Esther loves the book The Bernardine Sisters written by Catherine Burton. This book describes realistically the early history of the Bernardine Sisters and she would like each Alvernia College student to know, appreciate and to understand the life and dedication of the Sisters.
Esther’s admiration and love for the faculty is limitless and Polly Mathys, chairperson of the Computer Information Systems, comes to her mind immediately. On campus, Polly tries to meet needs whether it is the Turkey Drive for Thanksgiving, the Christmas collection for needy children, emergency computer help or any other campus function or activity. Yes, Polly greatly impressed Esther.
Esther always enjoyed the staff whether it was the secretarial, the maintenance or any other form of help. It was the concern and caring for one another that she deeply values. Her staff in the Development Office is half Catholic. Yet, they are often the ones to ask, “Are we doing this the Franciscan way?”
Here, Esther talked about her family. My immigrant parents came from Poland. My mother had 3 years of education and my Father was a machinist. It was the Depression, and I was the youngest. Mother baked bread on Saturdays and went around the neighborhood helping others. She would bring children in to our home who had fallen into trouble. She fed and clothed them and sent them on their way home when their families were willing to again accept them. She also took care of her whole village in Poland by sending them packages. She cleaned offices and saved money for my college education. My father passed away ten days before I graduated from high school. I attended Indiana University in Bloomington and did my graduate work at Loyola University. I taught second grade and then married the most wonderful man in the world – George Krasevac.
Esther came to Alvernia College at a time when her husband, George, had been ill. He had cancer and was filling with fluid. Seven years ago the chemo did not help but he survived using imagining and prayer. George lived for two more years, always cheerful, always helpful. Esther has been blessed in life by living surrounded by lovely people. She has two daughters both married whom she dearly loves. They all have common values and a deep love for each other.
When George passed away, Esther could have started a scholarship at Notre Dame where he graduated and where Esther and George were married. But Esther wanted this scholarship in George’s memory at Alvernia because she loves Alvernia dearly and realizes that it will continue to grow and prosper in the Franciscan tradition, serving students in need.
Esther commented about the Board: Esther was looking forward to retirement. Her staff works had and she feels that the college needs new talent. She would have the composition of the Board change to include greater geographic diversity. The Board is ready to accept members from out of Berks County. There are many talented people on the Board who give and those are needed because our need for operating capital is critical. There is a need to expand to have larger circles of supporters. Many people have not visited our campus and they do not truly know Alvernia. We have added Board members from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. We need to increase our geographic areas of influence for both fundraising and admissions.
Leaving Alvernia Esther adds: This is an appropriate time for a new person to assume this position as Vice President for Development. Alvernia could raise its endowment to ten million in the next campaign. She said that before she leaves she will discuss her views of strengths and weaknesses of Alvernia with the President. Each member of the Board plays a critical role. As Esther has often said, the level of commitment to the college needs to be commanding. Alvernia on your mind and lips and in your heart.
Esther Krasevac said her wonderful staff has helped to make the new Student Center a reality. They have contributed much to the growth of Alvernia and to its future.
Interviewed by Sister M. Alodia Podczasy, May 9, 2000
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