On September 22, Cabrini University honored Thomas P. Nerney (’77, HON’15), chairman, president, and CEO of United States Liability Insurance Group, former Trustee, and a generous Cabrini supporter, with the official dedication ceremony of the Thomas P. Nerney Pavilion.
The state-of-the-art fitness facility features studios for exercise and event space, dedicated locker rooms for intercollegiate competition, weight- and strength-training spaces, a multipurpose room, and a lobby with a café and social space.
“This athletic and recreation center meets the needs of the students of Cabrini and its mission to educate the whole heart,” said Grace Waters, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heard of Jesus (MSC), reading a letter from then-Provincial Superior Pietrina Raccuglia, MSC.
Emceed by Steve Highsmith (’88), Vice President of Institutional Advancement, the naming ceremony featured speakers highlighting Nerney’s involvement with Cabrini in various stages of his life. Each speaker cut pieces of basketball net down until, with Nerney making the final cut, the lettering officially dedicating the building was unveiled.
“Cabrini’s growth and expansion, in many ways, is due to your ongoing philanthropy and involvement,” said Nancy Gorevin Costello (’71), Cabrini Trustee and Communication Director with the then-Stella Maris Province of the MSCs, speaking directly to Nerney. “We know how much you love this place. Your ongoing generosity touches the lives of students, alumni, the campus community, and beyond. Your altruistic spirit serves as an inspiration for all of us.”
“Tom Nerney energized the athletic program here,” said Jolyon Girard, PhD, retired professor and men’s basketball coach when Nerney played. “I saw him less as a star basketball player, which at that level, he was, and more as the guy behind the whole student movement to turn Cabrini into what’s become clearly one of the best Division III athletic programs in the nation.”
“Throughout my years at the University, I’ve witnessed that Tom is genuinely student-centered,” said Christine “Chris” Lysionek, PhD, Vice President for Student Life. “His efforts are always in support of the young people who come here to learn and to grow, just as he did himself when he enrolled at Cabrini College.
“Tom Nerney’s appreciation for the holistic development of our students has been reflected in so many ways: in his drive to focus the Nerney Leadership Institute on ownership, accountability, ethics, and responsibility; in hosting our student learners for lunch and engaging them in discussions about leadership and its responsibilities; in opening the doors of his business to provide transformative and life-changing internships for countless numbers of Cabrini students; in establishing the Nerney Family Community Service Award, which helps lower the cost of the Cabrini education for students while encouraging them to be socially responsible; in continuing an ongoing dialogue with the University as we strive to become ever more successful in advancing our mission; and in his generous support and construction of this beautiful pavilion, which speaks to the importance of health and wellness, self-discipline, teamwork, and community."
“You deemed me a leader, something I didn’t even see in myself,” said Deion Allen (’18), Digital Communication and Social Media major and Nerney Family Leadership in Community Service Award recipient. “Thank you, Mr. Nerney, for helping me reach my goals and the entire community better themselves.”
“We are so honored to have Tom’s name on the Pavilion because of all that he has done and continues to do for Cabrini University,” said Cabrini President Donald B. Taylor, PhD. “Cabrini University would be a very different institution without Tom’s commitment to our mission, his scholarship support, his philanthropy, and all the leadership that he’s demonstrated over the past 40 years, from the time that he first stepped on this campus as a student to today.”
At times overcome with emotion, Nerney spoke fondly of Cabrini and the lessons he learned here.
“I am a proud alumnus of Cabrini College,” said Nerney. “The impact it had was transformative to me. I had an experience with people that was second to none.
“The faculty left a huge impact on the way I was thinking and shaping my thoughts, arguing and discussing things without any conclusion, which is all about life, which is a great foundation as a great liberal arts education that I’ve taken on into my business career.
“I had two things etched in my brain that I learned here at Cabrini: One is the value of time. People giving of their time to you is the most valuable and important thing, and should be cherished. There is so much to gain and to learn from that. The second thing was the importance of being present every day, because when you are present every day, you learn so much more. Be present and jump in heart first, not feet first, heart first; be there, feel everything, feel every emotion, the good, the bad, and the ugly, because it all just makes you grow.”