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The Campus Visit That Changed Everything

The Campus Visit That Changed Everything
Andrew ‘96, Kathryn ’96 and Lucy Lovell in Fairmount Park
Kathryn Ott Lovell ’96 had made her decision. Preparations were being made and money had been sent off. 

She’d enroll at Villanova University in the fall of 1992. 

One visit to The University of Scranton, however, changed everything.

“I had two good friends who were a year ahead of me and in school at Scranton,” Lovell said. “I visited the campus the May before I started and absolutely fell in love. It is such a wonderful place. I knew immediately that Scranton was where I’d be going to college.

”The campus she fell in love with on that first visit quickly surpassed her expectations as new buildings sprouted up around campus.

By the time Lovell was a sophomore, two landmark institutions on the Scranton campus were constructed and opened – the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Memorial Library and the McDade Center for Literary and Performing Arts.

Opened in 1993, the McDade Center is a 32,000-square-foot building with two levels, 330 seats, two theaters (including the Royal Theater designed by Roger Morgan of New York City), classrooms, offices and meeting space. Opened in 1992, the Weinberg Library is Scranton’s 80,000-square-foot, five-story campus showpiece. 

Lovell’s memories of the two buildings are still vivid.

“It (Weinberg) was built right before I got there,” she said. “I remember walking into it and it was the most amazing, cutting-edge building I’d ever been in. Then McDade came and it was kind of the anchor for the new commons area. I’d say they were definitely game changers.

”Lovell was invited to the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program (SJLA) with her acceptance to Scranton. SJLA  is, of course, the intensive academic program that immerses students in literature, history, philosophy, theology and science, with an emphasis on both the spoken and written word (what Jesuits have historically referred to as eloquentia perfecta). The SJLA program was the impetus for a shift in Lovell’s career plans. 

“SLJA helps you become a better-rounded thinker in the liberal arts, with a special Jesuit focus,” she said. “It had this incredible tradition and continues today because of the amazing culture it creates. It really shaped my own personal mission as far as what I wanted to do. After SJLA, I knew I wanted to use my talents to better serve society.

”When Lovell graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and communication, she began seeking ways to serve. She worked as an admissions officer at Scranton and as director of institutional advancement at St. Hubert High School, her alma mater, in Philadelphia.

In 2011, she led a campaign to keep St. Hubert open as budget cuts threatened to shut it down.

“As an alumna, I was absolutely devastated,” she said. “Along with alumnae of the school and board members, we raised $1.3 million in only 51 days and saved the school. I’m happy to say that St. Hubert is doing well today.

”For a little more than two years, Lovell has served as executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy in Philadelphia. There, she runs the nonprofit arm of the city’s park system, which is one of the largest in the world with 10,000 acres of park land. 

“I’m a better person because of the four years I spent at The University of Scranton,” she said. “Every single day it’s clear to me that it shaped my life in ways that are immeasurable. The experiences I had there, the relationships I built  and the foundation I received spiritually, academically and socially — I’m sure I couldn’t have gotten them anywhere else.”

She is married to fellow Scranton alum Andrew P. Lovell ’96. 
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