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In His Memory: The Michael Mulhall ’10 Memorial Scholarship

In His Memory: The Michael Mulhall ’10 Memorial Scholarship
The Mulhall family at Michael’s graduation, from left to right: Carrie, Justine, Peggy (mother), Michael, Neil (father) and Grace.

Michael Mulhall ’10 was a connector. He always brought people together. His tragic passing, just weeks after graduation, however, did not end his ability to strengthen the bonds of those he touched. 

Nearly five years after his death, his memory still ties people together. And a growing network of friends, along with their friends and relatives, have joined Mulhall’s family to ensure that his memory will live on at Scranton. 

“Mike was a very special guy,” said Sean Kirk ’10. “Anyone who met him wanted to continue to be around him. You instantly felt you were his friend.” 

Mulhall, along with two friends, sisters Paige and Jamie Malone, died in a car accident while traveling to a summer job to work with special needs children and adults. After the unthinkable loss, Kirk, together with friend Michael Clark ’10, wanted to honor Mulhall’s memory by creating a lasting tribute on campus. One way they knew they could do that was to establish an endowed scholarship in his name. They approached the University in 2011 and were told that in order to fully fund an endowment, they would have to raise $50,000 within five years. 

“We were 100 percent on board,” said Clark. “We came up with a game plan and had plenty of support from so many people. The response was amazing.” 

They reached the goal within the first year. 

Kirk and Clark, joined by Connor Dempsey ’10, the Mulhall family, and many others, planned several events to raise funds for the Michael Mulhall ’10 Memorial Scholarship, which benefits an education student with an interest in special education. Events were varied, including several 5k fun run/walks, boat parties, Yankees game outings and a volleyball tournament. To date, the endowment is valued at more than $100,000. 

“[After Mulhall’s death], the initial reaction you feel is helpless. You feel devastated and want to be there for people who feel the same way,” Dempsey said. “There were a lot of us who were in that position. Trying to do something positive was extremely therapeutic for all of us.” 

The three young alumni have become close to the Mulhall family over the years. Neil Mulhall, Michael’s father, said that he, his wife Peggy, and their children treasure these relationships. 

“We are a huge extended family now, and our lives are interconnected,” said Michael’s father, Neil. “I feel so proud of these young men [Kirk, Clark and Dempsey], and the University should be proud of the caliber of citizen they’ve produced.” 

He added: “That this scholarship could be fully funded and awarded within four years is amazing. If you look at the list of those who have contributed in some way, it’s a mile long — this is not one person writing a check and making it happen. We couldn’t be more thrilled.” 


Participation in events has been a great source of comfort for the family. While it’s not a journey he’d ever thought he’d be taking, or would want to take, the experience has been incredible — and humbling, he said. He has gotten to know his late son in a way he never might have otherwise: through the eyes of his friends. 

This past fall, the first Mulhall scholar was welcomed on campus. “This is our son, our brother, and we need to remember him not as he died but how he lived,” said Michael’s father (photographed at left). “It’s very important that these events represent his spirit, and that has been the case.” 

“It’s such a great feeling,” Clark said. “Why we’re doing this, in Mike’s memory, is so someone else can enjoy their years at Scranton. We are giving someone that ability, while lessening the financial burden. It makes all the work very much worth it.”

Jeff Bergman and Nancy Pritzker on their wedding day last August. The couple offered friends and family the option to donate to the Michael Mulhall ’10 Memorial Scholarship in lieu of traditional wedding gifts.

A Meaningful Gift 

Jeff Bergman and Nancy Pritzker sat in a New York apartment last spring discussing their August wedding. They agreed a gift registry was unnecessary because they had been blessed with everything they needed. 

A few weeks later, Bergman mentioned that he was hoping to participate in a 5K race/walk to benefit the Michael Mulhall ’10 Memorial Scholarship after the wedding. Bergman, the best friend of Connor Dempsey ’10, one of Mulhall’s close friends, went to fundraising events whenever he could. 

He told Pritzker how impressed he was by both the scholarship, which was named after an alumnus who died tragically just after graduation, and the group of friends and family behind it. Pritzker then had the idea to offer guests the option to donate to the cause in lieu of wedding gifts. 

“I thought it was an incredible idea,” Bergman said. 

Neither Bergman nor Pritzker attended The University of Scranton, but Bergman spent time on campus visiting Dempsey, and had gotten to know Mulhall during those visits. “He and I instantly got along, and I immediately witnessed what a fun-loving, spirited person he was,” Bergman said. “I always looked forward to seeing him.” 

The couple’s kind gesture helped to raise more than $20,000 for the scholarship, surpassing their expectations. “Everyone thought it was incredible that we had such a great cause that people were free to donate to,” he said. “I think the biggest favor one can do is help a cause and expect nothing in return. We just feel lucky to have been a part of it.”

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