December 3, 2018, Miami, Florida – Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD, President of Barry University, was one of two people honored November 22, 2018, at the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Miami and Broward Annual Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast. The event was at Barry University and drew 60 people.
“Once a year around Thanksgiving, we try to bring people together from different cultures, faiths, ethnic backgrounds as a way of saying America’s diversity should be a source of strength,” explained Brian Siegal, Director of ACJ Miami and Broward. He said Sister Linda was honored because she’s been “such a positive force in South Florida, who’s dedicated her life to education, to trying to improve the lives of younger people and folks looking to get an education.”
John Bussel is a leader in AJC Miami Broward, Chairman of the Board of Barry University, and grandson of Shepard Broad, who was instrumental in Barry’s founding. He said both “Sister Linda and Barry are very representative of diversity, of bringing together a warm, engaged, and caring community.” He added, “One of the great strengths and attributes of Barry is that it’s so remarkably diverse, yet harmonious and very respectful. Sister Linda has done a terrific job in her time as President, emphasizing the strength of Barry’s diversity.”
The Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast was a good opportunity to honor Sister Linda before she completes her last year as President of Barry University in June 2019, he added.
During the breakfast, Sister Linda and the second honoree –Romi Bhatia, a Sikh from India and Executive Director of the Idea Center at Miami Dade College – were invited to share the stories of their family’s immigration to the United States.
The Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast was “a good opportunity to hear about [Sister Linda’s] family story, about the arrival of her parents and grandparents from Italy “and the lessons she learned from growing up and from her parents that led her to this life of service,” Brian said. “She also drew upon the connections between Barry and the Jewish community over the years.”
Sister Linda, a 1962 graduate of Barry University (then College), returned to her alma mater in 1969 to serve as Chief Student Life Officer until 1978, and from 1982 to 1986 as the founding Dean of the School of Professional and Career Education (PACE) and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs. She served on the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council from 1986 to 1992 and as President of Gwynedd Mercy College (now University) from 1993 to 2002.
Sister Linda has served as President of Barry University since 2004 and has been active in the local community as a member of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; United Way of Miami Dade; the International Women’s Forum, Florida Chapter; and the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities.
Sister Linda was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, her home diocese, and received the Founder’s Award from the Florida Campus Compact and the Outstanding Community Service Award from the South Florida Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. She was named the 2016 Citizen of the Year by the Miami Shores Chamber of Commerce.
Feature photo (top): Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD, President of Barry University, tells her “American Journey” story during the Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast. Photo by Margaret Hubbard, Courtesy of Barry University
Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD, center, and other speakers at the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast. Photo by Michael Winograd, Courtesy of AJC Miami and Broward