Mary Beth Farrell Becomes First Woman to Receive President’s Medal
Scranton native and University of Scranton alumna Mary Beth Farrell ’79 became the first female recipient of the University’s President’s Medal at the Tenth Annual President’s Business Council (PBC) Award Dinner held on Thursday, Oct. 6, at The Pierre in New York City. Proceeds from the black-tie gala, which was attended by 500 guests and raised $1 million, support the University’s Presidential Scholarship Endowment Fund.
In her remarks, Farrell, former executive vice president of AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, remembered fondly the influence her family, close friends and colleagues had that encouraged her to pursue opportunities that took her from Scranton’s Hyde Park neighborhood to corporate boardrooms of Manhattan, France and China.
Farrell used singer-songwriter Carole King’s “Tapestry” album as a means to weave together the many relationships that made a difference in her life, starting with her mother and father whom she credits for providing core values, real world experiences and “keeping everything in perspective with humor.”
A driving force behind the ongoing success of the Jesuit university’s PBC, Farrell closed her remarks saying, “Take care of each other. We can make a real difference if we support each other’s needs and ambitions.”
Several of those mentored by Farrell also spoke at the dinner, sharing their stories of the impact “the college of Mary Beth” has had on their lives.
“Everything she does, she does well. She doesn’t judge or steer. She just uses her experience and wisdom to help us achieve our very best,” said Megan Morgan ’95, G’97, director of tour communications, Acushnet Company.
Patricia Moran, Esq. ’81, partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, LLP, and dinner co-chair, described the honoree as someone who operates “with a mission and purpose.” She said Farrell has “high expectations with everything – as a mentor, professional and philanthropist.”
The University of Scranton has benefited greatly from Farrell’s generosity. She currently serves as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees and as chair of the President’s Business Council.
Also at the dinner, Brian Musto ’12, a management and history double major from Pittston and member of the University’s Business Leadership Honors Program, spoke on behalf of the Presidential Scholars. Musto credited a personal phone call from Scranton alumnus and previous President’s Medal Recipient John A. Walsh ’66, executive vice president and executive editor of ESPN Inc., for convincing him to come to Scranton instead of Notre Dame. Last summer, Musto worked at what he described as his “dream internship” at the NBA Broadcast Operations Office.
“This was an opportunity I would have never had if I went to another school,” said Musto, who thanked donors on behalf of the Presidential Scholars for their generosity and for providing “experiences that are invaluable to us.”
In his remarks, University of Scranton President Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., said the evening surpassed all his expectations.
“I am in awe of the time and energy put forth to make this event and the PBC a success,” said Father Quinn. “All those involved should be proud.”
Frank J. Dubas, Jr. ’75, global managing partner at Deloitte and Touche, LLP, served with Moran as this year’s dinner co-chairs.
Presidential Scholarships are four-year, full-tuition, merit-based scholarships awarded to the top students entering the Jesuit university’s freshman class each year. In its 10 years of existence, the awards dinner has raised more than $10 million, according to Tim Pryle, executive director of the PBC at The University of Scranton.
Farrell joined Equitable Life, later to become AXA Equitable, in 1999 as a senior vice president and deputy controller. She spent more than 10 years in various senior-level management positions with the company, including executive vice president of finance and corporate administrative services and executive vice president of service delivery and vice chair of AXA Advisors, LLC. Among her responsibilities at AXA were oversight and management of the approximately 1,400 employees who provide service to the sales force and the end customer. Total customers served exceeded three million. She also oversaw and prepared the company’s strategic plan, management of the AXA Way (Six Sigma) programs, management of various financial functions, as well as management of corporate sourcing and procurement.
Prior to joining AXA Equitable, Farrell was senior vice president and controller at GreenPoint Financial/GreenPoint Bank. She also held several management positions at Citicorp/Citibank. She began her career at KPMG Peat Marwick.
Farrell graduated with honors from The University of Scranton, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1979.