Misericordia Appoints New Members To Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees of Misericordia University (MU) approved three new members at its annual meeting.

Joining the board are Mark Alles, Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., and David M. Payne, Jr. ’85.

“The Misericordia University Board of Trustees is pleased to welcome our three new members,” said Deborah Smith-Mileski, D.Ed., ’75, chair, Board of Trustees. “Their combined expertise in higher education, business development and finance are sure to add significant value to our board. I look forward to working with them to meet the challenges of modern higher education and to help Misericordia University continue to prosper.”

Mark Alles is an accomplished executive in the biopharmaceutical industry who built and led highly successful global oncology-focused organizations and cancer therapeutics over his more than three-decade career. He is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Celgene Corporation, a global biopharmaceutical company, with an outstanding record of driving growth and medical innovation throughout his 15-year tenure at the company. He optimized long-term shareholder value through the analysis, execution and completion of Bristol Myers Squibb’s $74B acquisition of Celgene Corporation in late 2019.

At Celgene, he consistently delivered industry-leading financial performance, led teams that completed several multibillion-dollar company and product acquisitions, built a diverse suite of globally marketed cancer medicines and a development pipeline of high-potential therapeutics for blood cancers, solid tumor cancers and serious inflammatory diseases. He led the expansion of Celgene from a US-based organization with 500 employees, to a global company with 8,800 employees serving patients in more than 50 countries.

He is a recognized industry leader with deep operational, financial, business development and commercial experience. Mark is a former Board member of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Gilda’s Club NYC (non-profit helping families of people living with cancer), and a former member of the Trustees for the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ). He is currently a member of the board of directors for Antengene Corporation Limited (HKSE listed: 6996.HK), BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc. (Nasdaq listed: BMRN), Syros Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq listed: SYRS), and was chairman of the board for Turning Point Therapeutics (Nasdaq listed: TPTX), a precision oncology company expected to be acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb for $4.1B during mid-2022. Mark is consulting CEO and a member of the board for PIKSci, Inc – a private biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for hematologic malignancies, and a board member for TORL BioTherapeutics – a private biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of novel antibody drug conjugates for the treatment of solid tumor cancers. Mark is an advisor to the life sciences venture capital fund Eir Ventures and serves on the board of trustees for Misericordia University.

Before joining Celgene in 2004, Mark was vice president of the U.S. Oncology business unit at Aventis Pharmaceuticals and served in other senior management roles over an eleven-year period. He began his career in the biopharmaceutical industry at Bayer and worked at Centocor before its acquisition by Johnson & Johnson. Mark earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and served as a captain in the United States Marine Corps.

Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., is president emeritus and professor of English at Manhattan College, having served as president there from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2022. O’Donnell came to Manhattan after five years of service as the dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, Fordham University. Before coming to New York, he spent 17 years at Loyola College in Maryland (now Loyola University Maryland), where he served as a professor of English and, from 1999-2004, director of the university-wide honors program. As a scholar and teacher, he has focused mainly on poetry, especially of the British Romantic period, and on religion and literature, particularly contemporary American Catholic writers. He has authored two books on the poetry of William Wordsworth and co-edited “The Work of Andre Dubus,” a collection of essays published as a double issue of “Religion and the Arts.” In 2014, he won the prestigious Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award, which recognizes scholars whose work has “made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.” 

A frequent contributor to national and international conversations about the current state and future of Catholic higher education, O’Donnell served from 1994–2000 as editor of the national magazine “Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education,” and as a member of the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education from 1993–2000. He currently serves on the board of trustees of Lewis University.  In addition, he has served on the board of directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, and as a trustee of La Salle University, Philadelphia.  While at Loyola, he was on the board of the Lilly Fellows Program, and of Collegium, a consortium of Catholic universities that strives to strengthen faculty understanding of and participation in the mission of Catholic higher education.

A native of Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley, O’Donnell earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with highest distinction and honors in English at The Pennsylvania State University in 1981, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in English and American literature and language. He is married to poet, writer, and scholar Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, Ph.D., associate director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham.  The couple has three sons (all educators) and four grandchildren.

The O’Donnells have strong family ties to Misericordia. Both were awarded honorary doctorates from Misericordia in 2019.  Brennan O’Donnell’s mother, Mary Brennan O’Donnell, was a 1939 graduate of College Misericordia. His aunt, Miriam Ruth Brennan, RSM, was a 1950 graduate of College Misericordia and a Sister of Mercy.

David M. Payne, Jr., ’85, Dallas, is managing director of PNC Capital Markets LLC, which provides investment banking and bond underwriting services as part of the PNC Public Finance Group. Payne began his association with PNC Capital Markets LLC in 2006 and is directly responsible for the development and structuring of bond financings for governments, agencies, and authorities located primarily in Pennsylvania. Payne holds the Series 7, Series 53, and Series 63 FINRA securities licenses. Payne joined PNC Bank in December of 2004 after 20 years of service with Citizens Bank, with experience in many areas of bank sales and management.  Payne is a graduate of Misericordia University and holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance from the University of Scranton. He also holds a Graduate Banking Degree from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Delaware. In August of 2006, Payne received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Misericordia University in recognition of his many years of service to various economic development and non-profit organizations in Northeastern Pennsylvania as well as his continued service to his Alma Mater, Misericordia University. 

He has been serving as a consultant member of the Investment Committee of the MU Board of Trustees. Payne is an active member of the Wyoming Valley community, assuming leadership roles over the years in many organizations including serving as Chairman of the Board of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, and board member of Volunteers of America PA, Leadership Wilkes-Barre, the Penn State University Wilkes-Barre campus, the Ethics Institute of NEPA, The Wilkes-Barre Fine Arts Fiesta, and a volunteer with the North Branch Land Trust. Payne was also past chair of the Pastoral Council of St. Theresa’s Church, Shavertown.

Payne and his family have made significant and lasting contributions to Misericordia University. He is a former member of the Alumni Board, former class agent, a 2006 Convocation speaker, honorary degree recipient, Legacy member, scholarship benefactor and a member of the university’s Ethics Institute. His late father David Sr., served as a faculty member and administrator for over 38 years, and in 2004 was bestowed the title Professor Emeritus by the board of trustees.  Payne’s mother, Andrea, was the university’s first recipient of the Honorary Alumni award for her many years of service to the university and the Sisters of Mercy. 

Payne’s sister, Dr. Ellen McLaughlin, is an Occupational Therapy professor and Doctoral Program Director at Misericordia University. Payne is a graduate of the university along with his four sisters, Allison Payne, Dr. Ellen McLaughlin, Katie Payne and Susan Ferentino, daughter Sarah Payne and niece Brianna McLaughlin. 

Payne and his wife of 35 years, Darlene, reside in Dallas, and are the proud parents of triplets Sarah, David III and Jillian Payne.

Christelle Hoffman ’13 has joined the Board of Trustees as an ex-officio member upon assuming the role of president of the MU Alumni Association. She has been an active member of the Alumni Association since 2015 and previously served as its president-elect.

Two members have left the board. Mary Helen Nugent, R.S.M. has served as a Board of Trustees member since 2013. Adam Grzech ’13, ’17, previous Alumni Association Board president, served as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees during his tenure with the Alumni Association.

“We, as members of the Board of Trustees, extend our most sincere gratitude for the significant service and we extend our best wishes for success and happiness in the future to Sister Mary Helen and Adam Grzech,” said Smith-Mileski. “We know they will continue to remain involved with Misericordia.”

Daniel J. Myers, Ph.D., president of Misericordia University, also thanked the outgoing Board members for their service to the university. “I want to thank Sister Mary Helen and Adam for their support during my first year as president. The university has faced many challenges over the last several years. The input and guidance from our board members has been instrumental to the success of the university.”