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Bethlehem, Pa., August 23, 2007— After eight years of exceptional leadership in her role as chairman of the Moravian College Board of Trustees, Priscilla Payne Hurd will step down in October 2007. She will remain a full member of the board, and has been appointed chair emerita. She assumed the chairmanship in October 1999, the first woman to do so in the history of the College. Mrs. Hurd announced her plans at the tenth annual Campus Community Colloquium, which was attended by members of the College and Seminary faculty and staff, on Thursday, August 23, at 10:00 a.m. in Foy Concert Hall.
“I am not aware of any individual other than Benigna or Nicholas Zinzendorf who singlehandedly have had such a profound influence for good at Moravian,” said Christopher M. Thomforde, president of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary. “She has altered the institution by her remarkably generous philanthropy, and her astute prudence, wisdom, and courage. Beyond her influence on the organization of Moravian College, her presence among us has been a tremendous encouragement. She has challenged us, admonished us from time-to-time, nurtured us, and inspired us as a group. In short, she cares deeply about the institution and its people. We look forward to her continued engagement in the affairs of the College.”
Born in 1919, Mrs. Hurd graduated in 1938 from the Madeira School, a private boarding school for girls near Washington, D.C. She is a 1942 graduate of Finch College and the University of Chicago. Her interests led her to the New York School of Radio Technique, from which she graduated in 1943. In the 1950’s, Mrs. Hurd produced and directed a weekly radio show, “UN Calling You,” from Lehigh University. In addition to her work in radio, she was a columnist for the Bloomington Indiana Tribune.
Mrs. Hurd’s lifelong devotion to learning is demonstrated by her steadfast service as a member of Moravian College’s Board of Trustees since her appointment in 1974. She created the Priscilla Payne Hurd Center for Music and Art, The Frank E. and Seba B. Payne Gallery, the Priscilla Payne Hurd Chair in the Arts and Humanities, and helped launch the Comenius Scholarships for outstanding students.
During her tenure as Board Chair, the College has undergone extensive renovation of its infrastructure; the addition of innovative curricular and co-curricular programs such as the Learning in Common curriculum and the Leadership Center; and realized an unprecedented increase in both the quality and quantity of its student body.
Mrs. Hurd has spearheaded major improvements in the College's infrastructure including the construction of the academic complex and townhouse-style student residences, a campus-wide renovation of signage and landscaping, and renovations to the athletics facilities.
Her leadership has made a profound and lasting difference in the life of Moravian College and its students, faculty and staff. Hundreds of students, faculty members, and other members of the Moravian community turned out to honor her on her 80th birthday in September 1999.
Patrick McDermott ’08, past president of United Student Government characterized Mrs. Hurd impact on students. “She has demonstrated herself as being one of the most caring, passionate, and generous people to lead Moravian. Students have benefitted beyond measure from these admirable character traits of hers. She represents the charity and passion that every Moravian student should aspire to attain in their lives, she certainly is for me.”
“Mrs. Hurd has been an amazing advocate for the faculty especially with regard to expanding programs for leadership and research,” said Stacey Zaremba, professor of psychology and member of the Board of Trustees. “Her generosity has helped create an enhanced learning environment at Moravian that has expanded opportunities for students and faculty members to conduct research. The number of students in our SOAR program (Student Opportunities for Academic Research) has increased dramatically as a result.”
“The generous support she provided has profoundly impacted how we teach our students,” said Kay Somers, professor of mathematics. “Her insightful, no-nonsense leadership of the Board has helped us progress, while her gracious personal style of taking an interest in individuals, asking insightful questions, and supporting faculty, staff, and students is very much appreciated.”
“We look forward to Mrs. Hurd joining us at our yearly picnics. She has always shown a keen interest in how our facilities group is doing,” said Andy Anderson, associate director of plant services. “Last spring we planted and dedicated a tree to recognize Mrs. Hurd’s genuine friendship, care, generosity, and concern for all of us at Moravian. The words on the plaque reflect our relationship with her.”
In October 2001, the Board of Trustees formally designated the College's campus on Church Street in historic Bethlehem the “Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus.” In 2002, the Moravian College Board of Trustees approved naming the College's new academic building in honor of Mrs. Hurd. In 2006 she established the Ervin J. Rokke Endowment for Student-Faculty Research at Moravian.
Mrs. Hurd’s commitment to service extends well beyond the Moravian campus. She is the Lehigh Valley’s most generous philanthropist. In 1991, Mrs. Hurd became the first woman to chair the board of trustees of St. Luke’s Hospital, having served on the board since 1982. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her service, including the YWCA’s Golden Laurel Award; the Rotary Club of Bethlehem’s Paul Harris Fellow Award; and the Allentown Arts Commission’s Arts Recognition Award. In 1996, the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce established the Priscilla Payne Hurd Award to recognize the impact and influence of an individual on the enhancement of life in the Bethlehem community through the arts, education or health care. She is a Trustee of the Frank E. Payne and Seba B. Payne Foundation.
Mrs. Hurd was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Moravian College in 1993. During the spring of 2007, the Alumni Association recognized Mrs. Hurd with the distinction of honorary alumnus. She has been awarded honorary degrees by Lehigh University and DeSales University.
The board announced the election of Lyn Trodahl Chynoweth ’68 as the next chair, effective in October. She currently chairs the board of the Moravian Theological Seminary and is vice-chair of the joint board of trustees. Her service to the College includes membership in the Moravian Alumni Association board of directors and in both College and Seminary boards of trustees. More recently, she chaired the presidential search committee.
“We are very fortunate to have a remarkable person like Lyn ready to assume the leadership of the board,” Thomforde said. “As the second woman to chair the College Board of Trustees, she’ll follow the large footsteps of Mrs. Hurd, who has been a pioneer in the institution’s long and storied history.”
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.