Monday, March 4, 2013

Remembering Peirce alumnus Tom Foga, Class of ’52 and devoted Board of Trustees member

IN REMEMBRANCE: Jim Mergiotti reflects on
the life of Tom Foga, Peirce College Class
of '52 and life-long Peirce supporter
Sadly, Peirce College lost one of its most devoted alumni recently when Tom Foga '52 passed away at the age of 80. Tom entered Peirce as a shy teenager in 1950 and transformed into a leader among students and alumni. While attending the College, he served as assistant yearbook editor and officer of his fraternity, Sigma Gamma Omega.

After graduation, he first served in the U.S. Army, and then utilized his Peirce education to carry forth a very successful business career. As a certified public accountant, he rose to partner in an international public accounting firm and, for many years, maintained a very active consulting practice.

Tom always stressed education as a means to a sustainable life for his children. To that end, his daughter, Michelle '78 and son, Tom '83, both graduated from Peirce.

Tom played a vital role in creating today’s Peirce College. He was very active in the Alumni Association and served on its board of directors. He was a member of the College’s Board of Trustees for 30 years, including three years as Vice Chair and four years as Chair. In recognition of his work, Tom was honored as Alumnus of the Year and received the “Pride of Peirce” designation. Most notably, he was named Trustee Emeritus in 2006 and, one year later, the College Hall lobby was dedicated in his name.

As you can see, Tom’s resume is extraordinary, particularly as it relates to his contributions to his beloved alma mater, Peirce College. Tom used his great skills to touch many lives, including mine. I met him in 1988 when I joined the Peirce Board of Trustees and was assigned to serve on the College’s Finance Committee, which he ably chaired. Through our work together, first as board member to board member and then as administrator to board officer, our relationship grew. Tom consistently provided valuable guidance and advice.

He, in particular, drove us to many good decisions as we renovated the College’s facilities and built Peirce from associate-level to baccalaureate-level offerings. I consider him one of my key mentors. I learned a great deal from him about business and life. Lessons taken from my hundreds of conversations with Tom helped to shape my abilities. I remain eternally grateful for having had the opportunity to call him a friend and colleague.

The last time I saw Tom was on Jan. 15 at a reception recognizing the College’s first master’s program in Organizational Leadership & Management. I am thrilled that he was there. It was an occasion where we celebrated a major Peirce achievement. Although Tom retired from the board before we began planning for graduate studies, his leadership played a key role in giving us the foundation upon which master-degree-level programming will be built at Peirce. As he was leaving that evening, I reminded him that he was as responsible as anyone for the College achieving the graduate studies milestone. He smiled and thanked me for the recognition. It meant a lot to him. For me, it was satisfying to tell him in person how much he meant to Peirce.