Wilkes University President's Medal - Founders Gala 2023

Founders Gala

Wilkes University celebrated its legacy of educating first-generation college students at the 2023 Founders Gala on Thursday, June 1. Held at the Westmoreland Club, proceeds from the event support the First Generation Scholarship Fund which provides funds to students who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year degree. Family was the theme of this year’s gala, and two notable Wilkes families were honored.
Wilkes University President's Medal - Founders Gala 2023
2 members of the Ralston family

The President’s Medal

The highlight of the event was the presentation of the President’s Medal to the Ralston Family. The President’s Medal is bestowed annually on the individuals whose personal and professional lives reflect the highest aspirations of Wilkes University.

The Ralston family’s nearly 80-year connection to Wilkes started with the late George Ralston, affectionately referred to as the “Father of Wilkes Athletics.” George served as dean, athletic director, coach, professor and mentor to generations of Wilkes students and student-athletes for more than 60 years.

Helen Ralston earned her music degree from the University in 1952. She would regularly appear in Wilkes and community stage productions and would often lead in the singing of the alma mater at University events.

Three generations of Ralstons earned degrees from Wilkes, spanning from 1952 to 2014, including the four Ralston sons, David ’69, John ’79, Tom ’80 and James ’88. Tom Ralston is a long-standing member of the Wilkes alumni association and board of trustees.

The heart of their campus spirit is best represented in the facility that bears their name, the Ralston Athletic Complex.

Tara Mugford Wilson and father Robert A. Mugford '58 of Power Engineering

The Chairman’s Award

This year marked the introduction of the Chairman’s Award, presented to individuals who have made a positive impact upon their profession or community and in the spirit of the mission of Wilkes University. The inaugural recipients were Robert A. Mugford ’58 and Tara Mugford Wilson of Power Engineering.

Bob Mugford started as a sales engineer at Power Engineering in 1965, purchasing the company and becoming board chair in 1979. A first-generation college student, he earned his associate degree in engineering from Wilkes College in 1958 and went on to receive his bachelor’s degree and earn his professional engineering license.

Tara Mugford Wilson succeeded her father as president of Power Engineering in 2016. She has served on the Wilkes board of trustees since 2020 and is a recognized and respected leader in the community.

Through the leadership of the Mugfords, Power Engineering Corporation has helped transform the Wilkes campus for more than four decades as a valued partner on construction and renovations to the Henry Student Center, Chase Hall, Stark Learning Center, Breiseth Hall, the Cohen Science Center and the Karambelas Media and Communication Center.