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Press Release: DeSales University Salesian Center Announces Lectures Series
Date: 8/1/2002

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DeSales University Salesian Center Announces Lectures Series

Center Valley, Pa., - (August 1, 2002) -The Salesian Center for Faith and Culture at DeSales University announces the inaugural Aviat Lecture on Catholic Education, Monday, September 16, 2002 at 7:30 p.m., in the Kresge Lounge at Billera Hall. The inaugural speaker, James J. Cusimano, J.D., LL.D., will speak on "The Genius of Catholic Education."

The lecture series honors Leonie Aviat, who was canonized a saint in the Roman Catholic Church on November 25, 2001. Born in Sezanne, France, on September 16, 1844, she died in Perugia, Italy on January 10, 1914. Under the religious name of Mother Frances de Sales, she founded the congregation of the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, who remain active throughout the world today.

The Aviat Lectureship honors the saint's work by enlisting national experts to address contemporary topics in the world of Catholic education. Admission is free and open to the public.

Effective September 1st of this year, Cusimano retires as the Secretary for Catholic Education and Superintendent of the Office of Education of the diocese of Allentown (PA). When appointed superintendent, he was one of only 13 lay people and the youngest person ever to hold such a leadership post nationwide. His 33-year term of service is the longest of any chief administrator of Catholic schools in the U.S.

During this tenure, Cusimano was responsible for the fifth largest school system in the state, which today serves 18,483 students in 52 pre- and elementary schools, 9 high schools, and 3 special learning schools. He also oversaw parish religious education programs that teach another 17,822 students.

In addition, Cusimano served as the diocesan representative to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (the public affairs agency for the Catholic Church), where he drafted legislation dealing with government aid to schools. Among the notable programs is the current transportation law and the recently enacted Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, through which donations can be made to fund scholarships for income-eligible students. Cusimano also assisted with the establishment of a $10 million endowment program for scholarship programs and capital projects in the diocese. As the chief educational administrator, he reviewed and approved plans for 30 major building projects. Under his leadership, 52 pre-school centers 36 extended-care programs were established, together serving over 3,300 students.

On the academic front, Cusimano crafted a negotiation process with the Lay Teachers Association that has led to over 20 years of contractual agreements without any strikes or work stoppages. And he has realized the goal of having every school in the diocese accredited by the prestigious Middle States Association.

A graduate of Canisius College (B.A. in History) and of the State University of New York, Buffalo (J.D.), Cusimano was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from DeSales University in 2002. Locally, he serves on the board of directors of Lehigh Valley PBS Channel 39 and the Lehigh Valley Business Education Partnership. Together with his wife, Martha, he is a 30-year resident of Notre Dame of Bethlehem parish.

Press Release: DeSales University Salesian Center Announces Lectures Series | Posted on: 8/1/2002

For more info:
Tom McNamara, Executive D
irector of Communications
DeSales University | 2255 Station Avenue | Center Valley, PA 18034

610.282.1100 x1219 | Tom.McNamara@desales.edu

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