Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2022

FALL 2022

Inside this issue: From Erie to the Emerald Isle, page 6 Unveiling new Brad McGarry Center for Neurodiversity, page 7 Big moments in Athletics, page 20 LAYING THE FOUNDATION Mercyhurst degree a cornerstone to grads’ success


A MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT GETZ Fall has returned to Mercyhurst’s campus—and what a wonderful time it is, with new students getting their first taste of college life, returning students renewing friendships and embracing the next steps of their college journeys, and faculty recharged from summers of scholarship and adventure. We’re enjoying football, soccer, theatrical productions, and more. The campus is aglow with intellectual electricity. There’s crispness in the morning air and warmth in the afternoon. Truly, it’s no wonder so many people say fall is their favorite time of year! Perhaps the first thing you noticed about this issue of Mercyhurst Magazine is that we’ve gone digital. Previously, we printed about 20,000 copies of the magazine for distribution each fall and spring, and beginning with this edition, we’re printing only 500. For the most part, those will be conveyed to the library and archives and available for university guests and visitors. There are two key benefits of this change. First, we are becoming more environmentally sustainable. Changing to a digital format will save paper and fuel, yielding real environmental benefits. Second, moving to a digital format will result in cost savings for the university as we no longer pay for paper, printing, and postage. Those savings can now be redeployed to serve our primary mission of educating students. At a time when colleges and universities are competing for declining numbers of high school graduates and facing scrutiny over the value of higher education, we need to focus on our distinctiveness to flourish. Our niche academic programs, our hospitable campus culture, and our enduring Mercy Mission differentiate us from other institutions. On the following pages, you will see how Mercyhurst graduates have embraced Mercyhurst’s value and

distinctiveness to cultivate bright and promising futures of their own. In this issue, we highlight three programs— Hospitality Management, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Intelligence Studies, its 30th, and Sports Medicine. We also feature a story about our programming in Ireland. I was privileged to visit Dungarvan in April, while our students

were studying there. I saw firsthand the dedication of the faculty, the excitement of the students, and the warm hospitality of the people of Dungarvan. As well, I met with key public officials in County Waterford, who are so supportive of Mercyhurst. Sadly, my visit coincided with the passing of Dr. Heidi Hosey- McGurk, who spearheaded the Ireland program, which began in 2010, and led it with enthusiasm and finesse. We have some serious and important work planned for this academic year beyond the attention we always give to education in the Mercy tradition. As the President’s Advisory Council for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice reconvenes, we will develop a plan to ensure continuous improvement in this area. I invite you to view our new DEIJ webpage ( ). Also this year, with support from a $10,000 grant from the Stackpole-Hall Foundation, we will invite our community members to participate in a series of discussions of difficult topics

President Getz makes memories with Mercyhurst students in Dungarvan.

to promote skills in civil discourse. Another initiative will be the expansion of our already outstanding work in neurodiversity, through the newly named Brad McGarry Center for Neurodiversity. In addition to supporting students on the autism spectrum, we will work more closely with major companies, assisting them in their efforts to hire and promote neurodiverse individuals. Of course, we’re planning to have fun as well, with Hurst Day again a highlight of the fall semester for students and employees, and Homecoming as a treasured tradition for all. Indeed, I look forward to seeing you on campus Homecoming Weekend Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

Carpe Diem,

Kathleen A. Getz, Ph.D.

ON THE COVER: Mercyhurst’s value and distinctiveness deliver

bright futures for graduates. (Cover design by Lauren Esper)


As part of Mercyhurst University’s growing commitment to sustainable practices, the Department of Marketing & Public Relations is transitioning the university magazine, published twice annually, to an online format, beginning with this issue. We will continue to share alumni stories, campus happenings, the latest university developments, and all the other news that you have come to expect from Mercyhurst Magazine. We hope you enjoy.

Magazine Editors Deborah W. Morton Sherry Rieder Editorial Support Allison DiGilio Design Lauren Esper Contributing Writers Cameron Anzevino ’21 Kristian Biega ’20 Bryan Colvin Deborah W. Morton

Pam Caswell of Mercyhurst’s housekeeping staff captured this perfect pink sunrise over campus, an image that generated over 3,000 likes on social media.

Inside this issue

SPORTS MED GRADS POWER WAY TO SUCCESS 2 From the imposing courts of university basketball champions to first-class orthopedic suites, Sports Medicine grads are making a difference.


Dan Richeal Gerry Tobin Contributing Photographers Lauren Esper Leena M. Clint ‘16

As the Hospitality Management program reaches its golden anniversary, let the celebration begin!

Ben Friesen Olivia Harris Ed Mailliard

INTEL CELEBRATES KEY LEADERSHIP IN MARKING 30TH 14 Intelligence Studies honors three key leaders as it hits the 30-year mark: Robert Heibel, James Breckenridge, and Lindy Smart ’11.

Mercyhurst Athletics Communications Vice President for Advancement Sam McCrimmon Send changes of address to:

6 7

From Erie to the Emerald Isle

Office of Advancement Mercyhurst University 501 East 38 th Street Erie, PA 16546

Unveiling New Brad McGarry Center for Neurodiversity A look at MSG’s African American female leaders

12 13 18 19 20 24 26 27

New trustees welcomed

2022 commencement highlights Countdown to centennial—The Gates

If you haven’t been receiving the bi-monthly Alumni eNewsletter, Mercyhurst does not have an active email address for you. Visit to update your information and reconnect.

Big moments in athletics

Honoring distinguished alumni, Hall of Fame inductees

Happenings on the Hill

Class Notes



From the lively sidelines of local high school football fields to the imposing courts of university basketball champions to first-class orthopedic surgical suites, graduates of the Mercyhurst Department of Sports Medicine stake their claim. Longtime Sports Medicine Chair Brad Jacobson wants to give them the best possible launching pad for taking their skills wherever they choose to go. Sports Medicine began at Mercyhurst in 1985, leading to nearly 1,000 alumni, 41 of whom received their diplomas this past year. “Our department is the longest-standing sports medicine academic department in the United States and prides itself on providing our students with a robust allied health clinical skill set consistent with our motto, ‘knowledge without application is useless,’” Jacobson said. “In that way, we equip them to provide gold-standard patient care.” In this issue, we profile Mercyhurst alumni who have built the careers of their dreams after getting the best possible start at Mercyhurst. Courting champions: Nick Potter ’01, Greg Beato ’01 When Duke and Virginia Tech met in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in March, it was a basketball game for the ages. One would claim the Atlantic Coast Conference title, but for Duke’s Blue Devils, it was a chance to secure legendary “Coach K” a league title in his final season. For the Hokies, it was an opportunity to be the spoiler and win the ACC tournament for the first time. In the throes of the hope and hype that Saturday night, two Mercyhurst University Sports Medicine alumni, both Class of 2001, found themselves together on the big stage but in separate corners. In maroon and orange was Greg Beato, a head team physician at Virginia Tech, and in blue and white was Nick Potter, director of High Performance and Sports Science for men’s basketball at Duke. They used the opportunity for a makeshift reunion and even snapped a photo to commemorate the event. Both say they consider their Mercyhurst experience fundamental to establishing the high-profile careers they enjoy today. Both teams emerged winners that season. Virginia Tech upset Duke to win the ACC championship, and Duke advanced to the Final Four. NICK POTTER A Buffalo, New York, native, Potter came to Mercyhurst to play soccer and study Sports Medicine with an emphasis on Athletic Training and Pre-Physical Therapy. “Mercyhurst offered a great combination of the two, plus my family could come watch my games,” he said. He thrived on the sense of community Mercyhurst engenders, and he graduated with the kind of confidence that hard work and commitment promise. “You know, I don’t look back and think, ‘Mercyhurst taught me this great ankle treatment.’ I remember the people, the passion, and the dedication,” he said. “It’s more than school. You live there. It’s your family.”

Nick Potter, left, and Greg Beato reconnect at the ACC title game in New York.

Potter’s family included fellow Sports Med majors, faculty Brad Jacobson and Sue Denny Sweeney ’88, soccer coach John Melody ’90, and Lance Munksgard, Mercyhurst’s own athletic trainer at the time. As one who had his share of injuries, Potter spent many hours under Munksgard’s care. “I probably got to know him more than anyone else,” Potter said. “I admired him. He never got rattled. He was always confident and caring. Even today, I get into a situation and think, ‘How would Lance handle that?’” When he was growing up, Potter’s goal was to work for a high-level athletic program. Duke basketball, he agreed, is certainly all that and more. After graduating from Mercyhurst, Potter attended Duke University School of Medicine, where he earned his doctorate in physical therapy. “I wasn’t the best soccer player at Mercyhurst, but I think if you’d ask John Melody, he’d say nobody tried harder,” Potter said. “I wasn’t the best student either, and I think some people were surprised that I got into Duke. There were definitely smarter people than me, but I was confident in my work ethic.” That work ethic eventually got him his dream job: director of High Performance and Sports Science for men’s basketball at Duke, where he helps his athletes optimize healthy performance. Today’s all- encompassing approach, he noted, is holistic in nature, focusing on biomechanics, sleep, mental health, nutrition, and more. In addition to his role with Duke basketball, Potter provides medical coverage for the USA Olympic Shooting Team. In fact, during a stint in London before the 2012 Olympics, he discovered his wife, Ciara Connolly


Dr. Ryan Molli ’01: The Carpenter Surgeon

’02, who, incidentally, was at Mercyhurst at the same time he was. She was among the first students from Ireland to study at Mercyhurst through the John F. Kennedy Irish Scholarship Competition. The two were aware of each other on campus but didn’t date until Potter looked her up in London, where she was working as an event planner. Today, they are the parents of three young sons: Conor, Finn, and Declan. GREG BEATO In addition to being a doctor of internal medicine in private practice and a team physician with Virginia Tech Athletics, Greg Beato, D.O., also teaches medical students and residents. It is there, sharing his knowledge and experience, that he finds himself in a frequent state of reminiscence. “Every day I teach, there are situations that arise that I think of Brad and Sue* and what we talked about when I was 18 years old,” he said. “Mercyhurst gave me a phenomenal foundation for what I do.” (*Brad Jacobson is chair of Sports Medicine; Sue Denny Sweeney ’88 is assistant athletic director for health and wellness. They were then faculty in the Sports Medicine program.) A native of Rochester, New York, Beato graduated from

Natural elements like stone and timeless barnwood, accented by a blazing fireplace, exude warmth and give the building’s spacious interior a feeling of old-world charm. It’s an environment reminiscent of a rustic ski lodge. Inside the lobby is Lucantino’s Trattoria, a coffeehouse and café that takes its name from the owner’s three sons: Luca, Anthony, and Santino. But this is no alpine accommodation, nor is it a hospitality enterprise. It is a doctor’s office. More precisely, it is the Whole Health Orthopedic Institute in Meadville, Pennsylvania, founded by Mercyhurst Sports Medicine alumnus Ryan Molli, D.O. ’01. It is where Molli maintains his orthopedic surgery practice. “I did one year of hospital employment, but it wasn’t for me,” he said. “I wanted a private, independent, concierge practice where everyone feels like a VIP patient.” That kind of caring began at home, where his father and three sisters, including one who also graduated from Mercyhurst, all pursued teaching careers. Even the

Mercyhurst with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine. In addition to earning a degree that he has parlayed into a rewarding career, he played volleyball for the Lakers and met the woman who would become his wife, fellow Sports Medicine grad and physical therapist Susan Gonnam ’01 of Jamestown, Pennsylvania. Beato also credited Dr. Greg Coppola, a former team physician at Mercyhurst, who mentored him in his medical school quest, ultimately leading him toward his own alma mater, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Although Beato had his sights set on being a physician from the get-go, Ryan Molli ’01, a fellow Sports Medicine student and Beato’s roommate his junior and senior years, wasn’t so sure. But Coppola convinced Molli that it was his destiny and, indeed, Molli made it so. (See next story.)

woman he would later marry, Karen, is a teacher. Although Molli took a different path in terms of caring for people, education remains a constant. In addition to his clinical practice, he is also an orthopedic consultant

who has traveled and lectured on hip and knee procedures all over the United States as well as multiple European countries, Canada, and Australia. For a man who craves family and the comforts of home, he’s come full circle. It started with Mercyhurst as his



Beato, meanwhile, completed his internal medicine training in Newark, Delaware, and later earned a Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. It’s there that he made his home and maintains a robust private practice in internal medicine. Much to the delight of his wife and sons, Marco and Dominic, avid Hokies fans, Beato continues his work with Virginia Tech as one of the head team physicians, currently providing sideline coverage for men’s basketball and women’s soccer. “When I look back at my training, I never regret the path I took,” Beato said. “A lot of my friends did biology or a different subset of biology training, but the route I took with sports medicine helped me get comfortable with student athletes and develop a good bedside manner and humanistic approach to medicine.” Beato also said that as a practicing Catholic, he appreciated the way Mercyhurst addressed faith and religion, and he still remembers the open-mindedness with which they were conveyed. “Mercyhurst blended Catholic tenets with other faiths,” he said. “Nothing was ever forced, which enabled us to keep our religious roots and accept others, not divide us from them.”

college choice. It was just shy of 45 minutes from his home in Meadville, and his tenure overlapped one year with his sister, Kristin Held ’98, and all four years with his best friend, Jared Oakes ’00, now a prominent Cleveland, Ohio, lawyer. “Mercyhurst fit my personality … small but not too small … close but not too close. … It was a true campus with an identity all its own,” he said. He did not have a specific career plan when he started college. He just knew that his interests fell into three areas: the musculoskeletal system, athletics, and taking care of people. He decided to major in Sports Medicine with a concentration in Pre-Med, thinking that perhaps he would go to chiropractic school. His journey to becoming a physician, specifically an orthopedic surgeon, was one of several moments of enlightenment, not to mention meeting the right people at the right time, key among them fellow Mercyhurst Sports Medicine student Greg Beato ’01 (see separate story) and longtime mentor Dr. Greg Coppola, a team physician for Mercyhurst at one time.


After graduating from Mercyhurst and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Molli completed a five-year orthopedic surgery residency in the Metro-Detroit area, where he met his wife. He would go on to practice in Michigan for five years before returning to Meadville in 2015. There, he would grow a thriving concierge practice, with patients traveling from miles around to seek his care. But his handiwork went beyond rebuilding knees and hips. A skilled woodworker, Molli designed and helped build his own medical building, equipping it with six fireplaces, two of which are framed with classic oak mantels that he restored from the old building contractors demolished to construct the new one. In every sense, Molli was determined to banish the cold, sterile environment reminiscent of many medical facilities for one that would be a calming, comfortable space for his patients. One of those patients was former Mercyhurst registrar Sister Pat Whalen, RSM, for whom Molli did a total replacement of both hips and a left knee. As much as she might have enjoyed her

the Lakers, excelling under former football coach Marty Schaetzle and wrestling coach Mike Wehler. “I loved being part of both teams,” Hale said. “In 2010, football won the PSAC, and it was awesome to share that with the coaches and players. With wrestling, even though there are only two guys on the mat, there’s a great team feeling there, too.” In time, Hale knew he had to focus on academics, and he discovered Athletic Training. “I never even knew that strength and conditioning coaching was a career,” he said. “But I really got into it. Through my own training, I saw the benefits of what it did for me on the mat and on the field.” Eager to absorb more, he branched out into the science behind athletic training, ultimately graduating from Mercyhurst with a B.S. and M.S. in Exercise Science in 2011 and 2012, respectively. From there, former Mercyhurst faculty member Dr. Christine Lo Bue-Estes opened doors for him to intern with the Buffalo Bills, a steppingstone to a stint at the University of Tennessee, and then to Eastern Michigan University where he started as a full-time assistant for two years, advancing to co-director of Sports Performance, where he remained for the next five years. There he strengthened a conviction that he first discovered at Mercyhurst: “It’s not what you do that matters as much as how you do it. The science matters.” Over time, he became known as a strength and conditioning coach who held his athletes to a high standard and an equally high level of accountability. Word must have made its way to Notre Dame, because in 2020 Hale got a call. “In a way, it was a step back,” he said. “They wanted me to take an assistant job, and I was in a director’s position, but I saw it as an opportunity.” So, Hale and his wife, Valerie, whom he met and married in Michigan, moved to South Bend and are expecting their first child.

surroundings, she was most grateful for the

techniques Molli used to allow her “a quick, pain-free recovery.”

“In addition to education prior to surgeries and follow-up care

after each surgery, I received a handbook that provided a detailed explanation of the surgeries

and outlined exercises that promoted my healing,” she said.

Dr. Ryan Molli designed and helped to build his offices.

Fred Hale ’11 ’12M: ‘It’s not what you do that matters as much as how you do it’ Fred Hale had made a name for himself at Mentor High School as a top athlete, garnering all-state honors in football and wrestling and even finding time for track and field. When it came time for college, he wanted to earn an athletic scholarship, so his parents wouldn’t have to worry about paying for his education. He knew very little about Mercyhurst, but his late father, a truck driver whose main route took him between Mentor and Harborcreek, was familiar. “That’s in Erie, Pennsylvania. I can drive that with my eyes closed,” Fred Hale Sr. said at the time. A full scholarship, his dad’s quasi endorsement, and the fact that his parents could come to see him play anytime sealed the deal. And what a kickoff it was toward an unexpected but totally incredible career that took him to the University of Notre Dame, where today he is assistant head strength coach for Irish football. But back to Mercyhurst. “It was a great place to grow up,” said Hale, who became an All-American at football and a standout wrestler for

Fred Hale played football and wrestled at Mercyhurst.


“We have a great life here,” said Hale, who counts himself fortunate to work with his wife. He also has made meaningful relationships with former football coach Brian Kelly and newcomer Marcus Freeman. “I wouldn’t be here without any of the people I’ve encountered along the way,” he said. “From my hometown coaches and teammates to the people I work with now, I thank them all. It hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows, but everything shapes you into the person you become.”

full-time position upon graduation, and she worked as an exercise physiologist and lab coordinator to provide physiological testing and feedback to athletes and coaches, design yearly training plans, and conduct applied research and interventions to optimize performance. Lacroix has been the lead physiologist for the Canadian Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby team since 2012 and recently assumed positions as the lead strength and conditioning coach and lead for Integrated Support Team (IST). She specializes in injury prevention, physical preparation, training load monitoring, and applied environmental physiology in parasport. Lacroix has attended Paralympic Games (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020), Para Pan American Games (2015, 2019), and World Championships (2014, 2018) as a support staff for Wheelchair Rugby Canada. She assists the team with physical preparations including heat acclimation training before major games, along with cooling and recovery strategies throughout the competitions. “I remember learning about athletes with disabilities in my classes, but it was a big learning curve gaining the hands-on exposure with parasports at the Canadian Sport Institute,” Lacroix said. “We are constantly learning and being challenged; there is very little applied research available on elite parasport athletes, so we do a lot of our own research and create case studies to make more evidence-informed decisions.” Lacroix has provided physiology and sport science support to other Olympic and Paralympic teams and athletes as well. She is also the lead physiologist at the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario and mentors the next generation of sport science practitioners in Canada. Lacroix collaborated with multidisciplinary practitioners, coaches, and athletes while earning her degrees from Mercyhurst, and she continues to engage with other professionals today. “Being able to collaborate with interdisciplinary teams—which could include practitioners such as nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches, mental performance coaches and sport therapy staff—is crucial in my job today. It takes a collaborative and holistic approach to solve problems and support high-performance athletes,” Lacroix said. “Having that experience of collaborating in team environments, developing multiple skills sets and the understanding of evidence-informed research practices has set me up for success in my career.”

Fred Hale is a strength coach for Notre Dame football.

Melissa Lacroix ’12 thrives working in parasports

By Kristian Biega

Encouraged by her professor, Christine Lo Bue-Estes, Ph.D., to “shoot for the moon” for her final graduate internship, Melissa Lacroix ’12 landed her dream position with the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific. That opened the door for her career as a lead physiologist, working with a variety of Olympic and Paralympic teams. “One of the biggest things I took from my experience at Mercyhurst was the people who supported me. It was very demanding and time- consuming to pursue athletic training while playing hockey,” Lacroix said. “My coaches and professors gave me the support and reassurance that I could do this.” After graduating with her B.A. in Athletic Training, Lacroix sought to further her skills through Mercyhurst’s M.S. in Exercise Science. “It was the combination of my undergraduate background in AT and the master’s in Exercise Science that gave me the skill set to earn an internship with the Canadian Sport Institute my final year of graduate school,” Lacroix said. The Canadian Sport Institute provides training environments and delivers sport science and sport medicine support to athletes developing from the Provincial to Olympic and Paralympic levels. She was offered a

Melissa Lacroix ’12 traveled to the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, as lead physiologist for the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby team.


Mercyhurst travelers gather at the Mercy International Centre on Baggot Street in Dublin. They are, front row, from left, Mikal Abraham, Delaney Cranston, and Lily Smith; back row, Eva Philips, Kasey Short, Madison Bottcher, Jameson Stoner, Gerry Tobin, and Emma Kuchinski.


Beir bua agus beannacht. In Irish it means, “Take a victory and a blessing,” and, indeed, we did. After a two-year absence due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mercyhurst students once again experienced the warm hospitality of the people of Dungarvan, Ireland. Dr. Heidi Hosey-McGurk was determined to breathe new life into this incomparable study-abroad opportunity, and so a stalwart group of eight students and three faculty left Erie for Eire, landing in Dublin on March 10. In many ways it was a leap of faith for the students, most of whom did not know one another prior to departure, but the magic of Ireland soon forged friendships that promise to last a lifetime. We began our journey with a four-day tour of Dublin that included visits to Kilmainham Gaol; the General Post Office, site of the 1916 Easter Rising; St. Patrick’s Church, where once Jonathan Swift was Dean; Dublinia, a museum highlighting the Viking presence in Dublin; the House of Mercy on Baggot Street, where Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy; and the essential visit to the Guinness Storehouse and a first taste of Guinness. From there, we departed for our eight-week home in Dungarvan. There, students had classes and enough free time to explore the

area. We marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Waterford City and were cheered along the parade route. The newly opened Waterford Greenway extends from Dungarvan to Waterford City and offered a great walking/bike path and stunning views of Dungarvan harbor on one side and the towering Comeragh Mountains on the other. The week before Easter, President Kathy Getz and her husband, Gary, along with Dr. Dyan Jones, visited the students and toured Declan’s Well in Ardmore, the Blarney Castle, and the Jameson Distillery where Irish whiskey is distilled three times—to be sure, to be sure, to be sure. Another highlight of the trip was a presentation to the students by Member of the European Parliament Grace O’Sullivan, who shared her path from university to Greenpeace to politics. We also were invited by Waterford City Mayor Joe Kelly to a visit in his chambers. He gave us a grand tour and was a delightful host, inviting the students to sit in his office where Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla had sat just a week earlier, telling the students they were as important to him as any royalty. We also had a weeklong tour of Ireland that included Glendalough, Clonmacnoise, Kylemore Abbey, the Cliffs of Moher, the Dingle

Peninsula and the Gallarus Oratory, the Rock of Cashel, and Kilkenny Castle. We certainly got to know the saints of Ireland! Sadly, we learned of Heidi’s untimely passing during our stay. For many in Dungarvan who had worked with her for 10-plus years, Heidi’s death was a tragic loss. In early May, we had a memorial Mass at St. Augustine’s College, where our original relationship with the people of Dungarvan began with alumni including John Melody and John Deasy, Class of 1990, and others who found a home at Mercyhurst. Heidi’s memory will live on for all of the future students who will have this life-changing opportunity. Too soon, it was time to raise the parting glass, but each of us takes a victory and a blessing. And as Eamon Kelly, one of the last great Irish storytellers would end a tale, “That’s my story, and if there be a lie in it, ‘twas not I who put it there.” EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Gerry Tobin is professor of psychology at Mercyhurst. Faculty joining him in Dungarvan were Dr. Laura Lewis and Dr. Randy Clemons; students who made the trip included Mikal Abraham, Madison Bottcher, Delaney Cranston, Emma Kuchinski, Eva Philips, Kasey Short, Lily Smith, and Jameson Stoner.



Brad McGarry and his wife, Aimee, were joined by sons, Nate, front row left, and back row, from left, Brayden, Nico, Mason, and Connor when the creation of the Brad McGarry Center for Neurodiversity was announced.

In honor of one of the nation’s best-known advocates for college students on the autism spectrum, Mercyhurst University announced in June that it will establish the Brad McGarry Center for Neurodiversity on its Erie campus. The announcement kicked off a fundraising campaign to endow the new center, which expands the award-winning Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM), headed by McGarry since 2014. A lead contribution of $250,000 from the Patrick Rooney Jr. family has established the foundation upon which a $1 million endowment is planned, said Mercyhurst President Kathleen A. Getz, Ph.D. Getz made the announcement in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center before McGarry, his family and friends, and colleagues and supporters of the AIM program. Guest speaker at the event was Gov. Tom Ridge, a longtime chairman of the National Organization on Disability who has worked with many of the nation’s disability organizations to develop and advocate for policies and approaches that support increased disability employment. Meanwhile, under McGarry’s leadership, AIM has thrived, growing from an enrollment of four students to more than 80 today, and delivering impressive outcomes that not only benefitted

his students but also propelled a new set of talented and productive employees into today’s workplace. Through his work with AIM, McGarry became a resource for many other institutions across the country. He testified before the U.S. Congress on best practices in serving this growing demographic and was a subject-matter expert in stories featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, National Catholic Reporter, C-SPAN, and Forbes. He also became friends with Temple Grandin, perhaps the world’s best-known individual with autism, with whom he was known to share interactions with his students. The university’s commitment to the new center is a signal to McGarry that his efforts championing the needs of students on the spectrum will remain strong for many years to come, which is particularly meaningful to McGarry at this time in his life. Diagnosed last year with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, McGarry has continued to interact with his students despite increasing limitations. For years, he has been relentless in his pursuit of their happiness and success and, even in struggling with his own disease, has worked with the university to strengthen the program whose mission he believes in so passionately.

The new Brad McGarry Center for Neurodiversity will include four components, explained Vice President for Student Life Dr. Laura Zirkle. • Increase AIM enrollment and create more academic and social opportunities for its students. • Expand the summer residential program for college-bound students on the spectrum to determine if they are ready for the demands of college life. • Launch a first-of-its-kind initiative to train students on the spectrum for jobs in the rapidly growing field of cyber security. • Create a training program that will support the efforts of companies and organizations to successfully recruit and work with these uniquely gifted employees. “Brad has been a force of nature, constantly championing the needs of the neurodiverse,” Zirkle said. “Through his awareness-raising and advocacy, he has also shifted attitudes and helped to create barrier-free environments for his students. Our hope is that this center will continue his legacy for years to come.”


CELEBRATING 50 YEARS No matter the name, ‘Hospitality’ is golden at Mercyhurst

Perhaps none of the six core values espoused by the Sisters of Mercy is more evident as an academic pillar than compassionately hospitable is to Mercyhurst’s Statler Department of Hospitality Management, now celebrating its 50th year. Founded in 1972 as the Division of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management (HRIM), the program represents Mercyhurst’s unique ability to blend its Mercy mission with groundbreaking experiential learning to prepare students for success. By the 1980s, HRIM was thriving as Mercyhurst’s largest major. Its hands-on learning experiences appealed to eager students.

In 2013, the university’s Hospitality program found a new home on the Erie campus in the newly constructed Center for Academic Engagement, which housed a cutting-edge working classroom where students could hone their cooking skills and operate a fine-dining venue: the J.W. and Alice Marriott Café. The Marriott Café has become a gourmet destination every year with Hospitality’s student-run Dining Series. A $1 million grant from the Marriott Foundation facilitated the upgrades. At about the same time, the program received a $1 million gift from the Statler Foundation, upon which the university christened the Statler Department of Hospitality Management. Department chair at the time, Daryl Georger, was instrumental in securing the two contributions.

Alumni of the Hospitality program are among the university’s most generous donors. Just five years ago, Mercyhurst dedicated the Christopher S. Johnson Wine Room, which holds cherry wine racks, humidity controls, and a custom-made counter for wine tastings. The funding for the project came from a donation from alumnus Chris Johnson. Throughout its history, its esteemed leaders included Frank Pauze, John Wolper, Daryl Georger, Beth Ann Sheldon, and Pete Zohos. Its name may have changed, professors and students have come and gone, and the department has moved its campus location several times, but the quality of the Hospitality Management program has remained consistently high.

Hospitality students face off in "Chopped" contest. (2015)

(NOTE: This story was researched and written by Mercyhurst University archivist Bryan Colvin.)

As part of this emphasis, the department opened The Laker Inn in 1985, a full-service restaurant just east of campus that was partially staffed by HRIM students. The department’s growth necessitated physical expansion, spurring its move to the newly constructed Sullivan Hall in 1987. There, the modern facilities, complete with a specially designed Food Production Lab inspired by top culinary schools, led to even greater prominence as Marriott Corp. named it “the best hospitality program in the nation.” In 1992, HRIM further solidified its reputation for excellence by earning accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration. Of the 107 four-year hospitality programs seeking accreditation that year, only 10, including Mercyhurst, earned the distinction. The opening of Mercyhurst’s satellite campus in North East in 1991 gave the Hospitality program another opportunity for expansion by creating an associate degree in Hospitality Management.


Join us as we celebrate 50 years of Hospitality at Mercyhurst beginning Homecoming Weekend. We kick the party off Sept. 28 with a Hospitality Management Alumni/Student Networking Night at 7 on Zoom. Other highlights include an anniversary celebration in the Marriott Café on Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. and an alumni gathering on Oct. 1 at Saxon Stadium Lot at 12:30 p.m. For more information or to register, visit .


Gathering outside the Center for Academic Engagement are Mercyhurst Hospitality faculty, from left, Department Chair Peter Zohos, Allyson Schrimper-Minor, and 40-year veteran Daryl Georger.

Championing the Experience Economy

Today’s consumers aren’t so much about acquiring things as they are desiring experiences, and there is no better industry than hospitality to design and promote them. Personally, Zohos knows a thing or two about experiences. Earlier in his career, he managed large-scale events for Hyatt Hotels, handling parties for Billy Joel, Jennifer Lopez, and Donald Trump. As part of the Experience Economy, Zohos said Mercyhurst’s program is constantly ramping up its curriculum to be current and relevant. During the pandemic, for instance, it stepped up to introduce a class on virtual events. “I like to think of Mercyhurst’s Hospitality program as ‘a business degree on steroids,’” he said. “But, like my colleagues Daryl (Georger) and Allyson (Schrimper-Minor) know well, we are in the business of educating people and creating the best human capital we can.” Daryl Georger reflects on four decades Anyone who knows Daryl Georger knows he has an affinity for storytelling. Ask a question, and you’ll never get a pat answer. For instance, ask if teaching at Mercyhurst was his first choice after graduating from Cornell’s top-ranked hospitality program, and he’ll begin, “Well, actually, I was going to build hotels on the Pacific Rim. …” Eventually, you’ll learn that love got in the way. His girlfriend at the time was studying Hospitality Management at Mercyhurst, where

then-program leaders Frank Pauze and John Wolper seized the opportunity to bring a Cornell grad on board. Long story short, he’s been here ever since: teaching, advising, serving as department chair, networking, fundraising, and juggling temporary coaching stints in football, hockey, and baseball. As Hospitality celebrates 50 years, Georger celebrates 40. Five years ago, at a Service Awards Recognition Ceremony, Georger was lauded for the lengths he would go to network and create opportunities for his students. This sentiment was shared: “Helping students find success at Mercyhurst—as well as after Mercyhurst—is a passion for Daryl. And what’s special is that it doesn’t stop with Daryl. He teaches this kind of networking and nurturing to all his students, so that what he does for them, they do for others.” And that’s what has made the past 40 years so worthwhile. “We never gave up on anybody,” Georger said. Praising his colleagues, department chair Peter Zohos and faculty member Allyson Schrimper-Minor, he said together they shepherded thousands of students through the program, many with five-star careers today. By virtue of his hard work and magnanimous nature, Georger cultivated more than a few industry connections and was instrumental in garnering million-dollar donations from both the Marriott and Statler foundations, leading to the creation of the university’s J.W. and Alice Marriott Café and the Statler Department of Hospitality Management.

By Deborah W. Morton

1972 was a historic year for Mercyhurst University, marking the beginning of what is now the prestigious Statler Department of Hospitality Management, a source of Laker pride, and, for many years, the top-drawing academic program on campus. Homecoming Weekend, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, commences the 50th anniversary celebration of the Hospitality program and marks the 40-year tenure of one of its key figures, Dr. Daryl Georger. (See related story.) “As one of the world’s greatest industries, hospitality has gone through its trials over the past several years because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said department Chair Peter Zohos. “But ours is a resilient industry and we at Mercyhurst are strengthening our brand and charting some exciting paths forward that will help us secure our students’ place in this new future.” Looking forward, Zohos said his department aims to create more industry partnerships, strengthen relationships with its alumni, and grow top-notch general operations managers. “A hospitality degree from Mercyhurst is multidisciplined and can lead to many different careers,” Zohos said. “We consistently produce job-ready graduates, who shine in operations like tourism, events management, visual design, and sales, to name just a few.”


Shane Krige ’91 makes mark enhancing lifestyles of A-Listers

Krige came to Mercyhurst knowing what he wanted to study. “I just knew I loved hospitality and people; I liked to eat and drink and was very good at bonding with people,” he said. “What better business than hospitality to do all of that?” From the get-go, he

By Deborah W. Morton

When South African native Shane Krige was asked if the Hospitality Management degree he earned at Mercyhurst University in 1991 was worth his while, he had only to offer his resume: • General Manager of the first flagship Ritz-Carlton in India. • General Manager of the four-diamond Fairmont Washington, D.C. • Chief Operating Officer of Baker's Bay Golf and Ocean Club in Abaco, Bahamas. • General Manager, The Plaza, New York City. (Hired to oversee the $450 million renovation and repositioning of The Plaza hotel back into the New York 5-star competitive luxury set.) Today, Krige can be found at the Fisher Island Club, just south of Miami, where he is president and chief executive officer. Fisher Island is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the United States. The members-only club, located on a private island, is accessed by ferry or private yacht and is an exclusive hideaway for the world’s elite. Meeting the heady expectations of the club’s A-list guests falls on Krige’s broad shoulders and, yes, his Mercyhurst degree helped.

put his heart and soul into his schoolwork. He was, after all, paying his own way and hoped for a career that would deliver on his dreams. He lauded the dedication of Mercyhurst Hospitality faculty including Daryl Georger, John Wolper, and Michael Barnes. “Their attention to detail and personal interest in my career was very important to me,” he said. “You were never a number at Mercyhurst.” His willingness to work outside the U.S., where he could experience different cultures and people, was a game-changer. “My career has led me around the world, and each experience has built upon the other,” he said.


Hannah Bozard ’12 exudes Southern charm at its finest

The Hospitality Management

program placed a huge emphasis on developing real-life career skills, she said, adding, “My summer internships were instrumental in setting the stage for the next steps of my career.” In her current role, Bozard handles sales of luxury weddings and social events.

What could be more romantic than an oceanfront wedding set amid miles of pristine beaches and soothing coastal colors? That’s just one of the many dreamy social events that Mercyhurst Hospitality Management alumna Hannah Blashock Bozard ’12 delivers at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, where she is senior catering sales executive. “It is so special to see how unique and over the top our events can be in this beautiful, oceanfront setting, and I love working with families and couples during these exciting times in their lives,” Bozard said. The Indiana, Pennsylvania, native came to Mercyhurst specifically to study event management. Like many other Lakers, her college experience went beyond academics. She had a dance background and took advantage of the university’s arts programs, including joining the Dance Team. Through the Hospitality Management program, she also traveled to Greece, Las Vegas, and San Diego. Some of the best times, though, were working and cooking with her professors and fellow students. “Our HM professors were always there to support us. We worked long hours together, but it made us all more well-rounded and tighter knit as a group, and we had a ton of fun together,” she said.

Previously, she assisted couples all the way through planning and the wedding day. “Focusing strictly on the front-end sales now, I drive social catering business to the property. It is rewarding for me to know that I am, in part, helping to keep my fellow associates working and keep the hotel revenue coming in by booking these groups and events at the hotel, especially through difficult times like COVID.”


Casual or fancy, Kevin Riordan ’08 knows his seafood, and more

which was managed by Four Seasons Hotels. I worked my way up from assistant restaurant manager to food and beverage

Slip into a plush leather booth and dine on Sauteed Lake Michigan Whitefish or belly up to the Oyster Bar and feast on raw oysters from all over the U.S. Whether you are looking to go formal or casual, Shaw’s Crab House in downtown Chicago fits the bill for both—one of many reasons it is consistently ranked one of the top seafood restaurants in the country. Keeping Shaw’s high atop those lists is the charge of Mercyhurst alumnus Kevin Riordan ’08, who has served as general manager there for the past five years. The Chicago native came to Mercyhurst with a water polo scholarship and a passion for hospitality. What he remembers most of his college years is the level of connection and engagement from faculty and coaches. “They always made sure I was focused on the long-term goals,” he said. “I was very lucky to have great mentors in the classroom and in the pool.” His first Mercyhurst internship—at the Pompano Beach Club in Bermuda—whet his appetite for upscale establishments and strengthened an already robust work ethic. “I worked my way through lots of kitchens before deciding to move on to ‘front of house’ operations,” he said. “I always had a goal of working for luxury hotels and was provided my first opportunity at The Ritz Carlton Chicago,

department head. I worked in some of the best hotels in the U.S. as well as Canada during my time with Four Seasons. My finest achievement was being voted Manager of the Year at the Ritz Carlton Chicago.”

Along came the opportunity to manage Shaw’s Crab House, a position where he continues to flourish. “Shaw’s reached the Top 30 list for top grossing independent restaurants in the United States multiple times over the past five years,” he said. “We also achieved annual gross revenues of over $18 million multiple times.”

Through it all, he credits his success to making the workplace feel like “a family,” and to “creating consistent, memorable, and genuine experiences for my guests and employees.” RE RECIPES FOR SUCCESS

Sam Veneziano ’75: Goal-driven from the get-go

success beginning with the hands-on

nature of Mercyhurst’s Hospitality program. “Companies value the fact that someone has really worked ‘in the trenches’ and not just studied theories and practices,”

By Kristian Biega

As a senior in the first graduating class of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Mercyhurst, Sam Veneziano ’75 was instructed to write down three career goals. He hoped to own his own restaurant, teach hospitality, and work for a large company. Little did he know he would accomplish all three goals within his first 10 years as a professional, and quickly advance to a global, dynamic career in the hospitality industry. Following graduation, he managed his father’s restaurant, Barnie’s, for five years while teaching hospitality courses at Mercyhurst College. Veneziano began working for Marriott in Washington, D.C., and soon was named general manager of the seventh established Courtyard by Marriott in the nation. “My career has been more amazing than I could have imagined. My goal was to work in Pittsburgh, and I ended up working around the entire world,” Veneziano said. Veneziano has worked in nearly every U.S. state, opened hotels in Europe and Hong Kong, and even taken trips with Marriott executives to the Super Bowl and Master’s Tournaments. He attributes his industry

Veneziano said. From his career,

Veneziano’s most important piece of advice to aspiring hospitality professionals is to be adaptable and willing to try roles outside their comfort zone. “You just need to be flexible and willing to move around for this industry. In this industry, you should diversify your skills by working in all aspects of hospitality from housekeeping to front desk to marketing and management,” Veneziano said. “Hospitality is needed everywhere, so there is a world of opportunities.”



As senior history and political science major Lily Smith steps into her role as Mercyhurst Student Government (MSG) president this academic year, she joins a long line of others who have spoken for the student body. Smith’s election is historic. She is the third female African American student to serve in this esteemed role. The first and second graduates to hold this position, Emma (Newby) Mason ’59 and the late Rochelle George Wooding ’71, like Smith, sought to overcome political and racial divisions of their times, promote inclusivity, and ensure all members of the student body had a voice. One of Mercyhurst’s first Black students, Mason had a passion for promoting equality and inclusion for people of color. Her lifelong interest in social justice prompted Mason to major in sociology and French and pursue service projects at school. Her strong commitment to service won her the student government election in her senior year. Mason was determined to not only work for social justice in Erie and at Mercyhurst, but also eventually pursue teaching and attend Case Western Reserve University to study law. “My years at Mercyhurst have opened many doors for me and benefitted me my entire life,” Mason said. “I hope I made a positive impact on it, too.” While the country has made great strides toward acceptance and racial justice, Mason notes, there is still far to go. Smith echoes this sentiment for the Mercyhurst community. “We have been on a roll in becoming more inclusive and relatable, and I want to be a part of that change,” she said. Joining MSG was not in Smith’s original plan for college. What began with encouragement from

her friends culminated in Smith being an active participant in Mercyhurst’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. A member of History Club, Laker Leaders, and Black Students for Unity, Smith began her MSG career as the Cultural and Diversity Senator for student clubs. Once she saw the effect her work could have for students in these clubs and organizations, Smith committed to carrying on positive change for the university. “Most times it’s about educating and talking about situations that make students of color feel uncomfortable,” Smith said. “It’s not about pointing fingers; it’s about improving the environment to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable.” Having a supportive community is key to promoting inclusivity for all students, especially for those breaking into leadership roles. “I didn’t really intend to run for president, but my community of friends, peers, and professors saw something in me and encouraged me that I could do this,” Smith said. Similarly, Wooding was encouraged by her friends and white peers to become a leader for the student body. As one of the few Black students at Mercyhurst during the late 1960s, she left her mark on the university through her activism and commitment to making Mercyhurst welcoming for everyone. Smith said she is honored to join Mason and Wooding’s legacy in MSG. “Seeing Lily step up as president this year makes me feel very proud, and I wish her well,” Mason said. “I am so glad that the student body and faculty recognized (Smith’s) skill and ability to lead. When we choose not to provide people of color with equal opportunities, we are really missing out. We all benefit from their talents.”

“It’s rare to see women in leadership, and even more so for Black women. That is why representation is so important. I want to show younger students of color that they can thrive here and feel that they have a voice.”

-Lily Smith ’23


Rochelle George Wooding ’71

Emma (Newby) Mason ’59

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