The La Salle University Alumni Association presented its two top awards recently.
The Signum Fidei Medal was given to H. Edward Hanway, Chairman of the Faith in the Future Foundation, a joint venture with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to support the region’s Catholic schools. The John J. Finley Award, given to a graduate who has provided great service to the University, was presented to Mike Diccicco, a 1971 graduate.
The Signum Fidei Medal derives its name from the motto of the Brothers of the Christian Schools—“Sign of Faith.” It recognizes personal achievements in harmony with the established aims of La Salle University and the objectives of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and it is awarded annually to a person who has made “most noteworthy contributions to the advancement of humanitarian principles in keeping with the Christian/Judeo tradition.”
“Edward Hanway’s critical role to sustain and enhance the availability of faith-based education to all children embodies the spirit and actions of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the order he founded, the Christian Brothers,” said Beth Harper Briglia, President of La Salle’s Alumni Association. “Because of these and other accomplishments, the La Salle University Alumni Association is proud to present its Signum Fidei Medal to him.”
“I am deeply honored to receive La Salle University’s Signum Fidei Medal, which has such a strong legacy within the community,” Hanway said. “I never accepted the role of Chairman for Faith in the Future to be recognized for it, but, rather, I accepted this role help the Archdiocesan education system, which is so important to so many in our region.”
“When you look at the thousands of proud graduates of La Salle University, you quickly realize that its graduates are often Archdiocese graduates, too. I am pleased to share in this award as it truly recognizes our shared mission—to sustain affordable, Catholic education for generations to come,” he added.
Appointed as Chairman of the Faith in the Future Foundation in 2012 by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Hanway has said the organization’s goal is to “create a model educational system that will shine regionally and inspire nationally.”
The Faith in the Future Foundation directly oversees 17 Archdiocesan high schools and four special education schools and provides support to parish and regional elementary schools. The Foundation also aims to make a Catholic education possible for all families by offering tuition assistance. Under Hanway’s leadership, enrollment in the 14,000-student high school system has stabilized for the first time in a decade, and the high schools are now breaking even financially after a period of running large deficits.
Hanway is also retired Chairman and CEO of the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CIGNA).
In his 31-year career with CIGNA, Hanway focused on improving the quality, accessibility, and affordability of health care in the United States. While Chief Executive Officer, Hanway oversaw the transformation of the company from a financial organization to one that focuses on health insurance. He served as Chairman of the Council on Affordable Quality Health Insurance, on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Health Reform, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Health Insurance Plans, where he advocated for greater transparency in the health-care quality and cost information provided to consumers. As an executive, Hanway was known for his concern not only for the success of the business he ran, but also for the health and well-being of its customers and clients.
Briglia said that Diccicco is “a very deserving recipient” for the Finley Award. “He has devoted his time and energy to his alma mater since the day he graduated,” she said. “During his presidency of the Alumni Association, he coined a phrase that he worked tirelessly to achieve: ‘Bigger Circles, Tighter Connections’—to grow the number of La Salle alums who are involved in a number of ways with the University. He has an incredibly busy schedule, but he always finds time to help La Salle.”
Diccicco said, “I want to thank the Finley selection committee and the Alumni Association for this recognition. I’ve been a not very shy cheerleader for La Salle since my days as a La Salle cheerleader on the Palestra floor. This is a big, big deal for me.”
Diccicco is CEO of DDCworks, a leading brand and marketing communications firm in Conshohocken, Pa. The firm handles regional, national, and global clients across a broad range of industries, including consumer, pharmaceutical, industrial, financial, and real estate.
Diccicco came to La Salle from John Carroll High School in Birmingham, Ala., where he was the first student in the school’s history to win a National Merit Scholarship.
“I had a terrific experience at La Salle,” he said. “I was an English major, did well in school, pledged Sigma Phi Lambda fraternity, was a cheerleader, and worked on The Collegian.” He was also a member of the Honors Program and was also inducted into the Alumni Association’s Alpha Epsilon honor society, which recognizes high scholarship in the pursuit of a Lasallian education together with exceptional participation in the extracurricular life of the University.
“My commitment and service to La Salle developed later in life for me,” Diccicco said. ”I became a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors in the late 1990s. Once I got reconnected to the University, one thing led to another—committees, task force assignments, officer positions on the Alumni Board, involvement with the Explorer Club, and other La Salle activities.”
Diccicco was President of the La Salle University Alumni Association from 2005 to 2007. During his tenure, he made it a goal to help reconnect those who had lost touch with the University and to strengthen the bonds that were already formed.
The La Salle community became accustomed to the phrase “Bigger Circles, Tighter Connections” during Diccicco’s presidency. He regularly asked members of the Alumni Board of Directors and other active alumni to be visible supporters of University events and programs, with the goal of creating a bigger circle of involved, engaged alumni and tightening the connections among alumni and within the University.
The Finley Award is named for John J. Finley, a 1924 La Salle graduate. Finley held the position of President, Vice President, and, at the time of his death in 1961, Treasurer of the Alumni Association. To his contemporaries, he was known as “Mr. La Salle” for his devotion and dedication to La Salle.
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values. The University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 30 schools in the North Region and among the top 10 Catholic schools in the region.