This marks the first in-person celebration since 2019 of the Wilkes event that directly benefits first-generation college students.
Wilkes University will celebrate its legacy of educating first-generation college students at the 2022 Founders Gala on Saturday, June 4. Now in its eighth year, the gala will be held at 6 p.m. at the Westmoreland Club, 59 S. Franklin St. in Wilkes-Barre.
Proceeds from the event support the First Generation Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarship funds to students who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year degree. Established in 2014, the fund has raised over $3 million.
The highlight of the event will be the presentation of the President’s Medal to Ruth Boorom Melberger ’62 and Clifford K. Melberger of West Pittston, Pa. The President’s Medal is bestowed annually on the individuals whose personal and professional life reflect the highest aspirations of Wilkes University.
The Melbergers philanthropic support of Wilkes is best illustrated in the students who have benefited from the Ruth Boorom Melberger ’62 Scholarship, established in 1998. To date, more than 100 students have benefitted from this scholarship, making their Wilkes education possible. The couple was inspired to give in recalling the assistance they each received as college students: Ruth at Wilkes as an art major and Cliff at Bucknell University, the institution from which Wilkes University was founded. The Melberger Courtyard near Stark Learning Center bears their name in recognition of all the ways they continue to support Wilkes students.
In 2020, the Melbergers made an extraordinary unrestricted gift as a result of the challenges faced during the global pandemic. Unrestricted gifts are unique in that they allow the University to apply the funds where they are most needed for operating expenses and other priorities.
“For years the Melbergers have supported the dreams and aspirations of Wilkes students who went on to make meaningful impacts on their professions and the world. When Wilkes faced extraordinary circumstances as a result of the pandemic, Ruth and Cliff were among the first to answer, offering the financial means to support the most critical needs facing our University and our students,” said President Greg Cant. “I can think of no one better to honor during our first in-person gala celebration since the pandemic than the couple who was so instrumental in our response and recovery. Wilkes University is honored to award Ruth and Cliff Melberger with the President’s Medal.”
Cliff Melberger founded Diversified Information Technologies, now EDM Americas, a national and international data and document information management company, that was headquartered in Scranton, Pa. He is also the owner, founder and chairman of the board of GreenSpace Properties, LLC, a real estate management and development company. He served on the Wilkes University Board of Trustees from 1990 to 2007.
Ruth Melberger was an art teacher for school districts in West Pittston and Harrisburg during her career. Together the Melbergers have served on various boards, including the West Pittston Library and YMCA of Greater Pittston. They received numerous business and community service awards including the Distinguished Community Service Award of the Anti-Defamation League of Greater Wilkes-Barre in 2006 and the Arthritis Foundation Community Leader of the Year Award for Northeast Pennsylvania in 1998. Ruth is also involved in the Junior League of Wilkes-Barre, the Wilkes University Alumni Association and various committees in West Pittston. She serves as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
The Melbergers have two children, Erica, married to Tom Romanowski, and Mickey, married to the former Amy Fetch. They also have six grandchildren, Thomas, Ann and Kate Romanowski, and Dylan, Kari and Evan Melberger.
Past recipients of the President’s Medal include the Eugene Roth, Lawrence E. Cohen, Frank M. Henry, Clayton and Theresa Karambelas, John G. Reese and Joseph Savitz. In 2020, the event was held virtually in honor of Esther B. Davidowitz.
For more information about sponsorships and attending the Founders Gala, please visit www.wilkes.edu/foundersgala or call (570) 408-4302.