John Cabot University Mourns Passing of Beloved Former Trustee Peter Secchia
The John Cabot University community is saddened to announce that Peter Secchia, a former member of the Board of Trustees and a great friend of JCU, passed away on October 21. He was 83 years old.
A distinguished businessman, philanthropist, and community leader, Peter F. Secchia grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey, and served in the United States Marine Corps after high school. After graduating from Michigan State University in 1962, he joined Universal Forest Products (now UFP Industries) as a salesman. He eventually became CEO and chairman of the board, turning UFP into a Fortune 500 company.
An active member of the Republican Party, Mr. Secchia was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Italy by President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993. In that capacity, he was awarded Italy’s highest public service award, the “Cavaliere della Grande Croce” (The Knight of the Great Cross). He also received the U.S. Department of State Distinguished Honor Award, a recognition bestowed for exceptionally outstanding service or achievements of marked national or international significance.
Known for his countless philanthropic initiatives, Mr. Secchia served on the Board of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and was founding president of the West Michigan Lodge of the Order of Sons of Italy in America. In 2000, with Mr. Secchia’s financial support, NIAF launched the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Gift of Discovery Program, which sent over 800 Italian-American students aged 18-23 on their first trip to Italy.
Mr. Secchia joined the JCU Board of Trustees in 1995 and served until 2004. A great benefactor of the University, his generous donations led to the creation of the Secchia Public Affairs and Communications Center and the renovation of the auditorium known as the “Aula Magna Regina,” named in honor of his grandmother. He also funded the Secchia Scholars program, which includes five types of scholarships for master’s, undergraduate, and study abroad students applying to JCU.
Mr. Secchia’s son Charlie graduated from John Cabot University in 1993 with a degree in International Affairs.
“Peter Secchia was a great friend and benefactor of John Cabot University and a beloved member of the Board of Trustees,” says JCU President Franco Pavoncello. “During his term as U.S. Ambassador to Italy, he played an important role in deepening the friendship between the two countries. On behalf of the entire JCU community, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to his wife Joan and his children Stephanie, Sandy, Charlie, and Mark,” concluded President Pavoncello.