Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2014


By Debbie Morton

“In recent months we have witnessed the disappearance of a large international airliner, the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the rapid spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, an alarming number of heroin deaths from Vermont to western Pennsylvania, a cyber-attack on a major American retailer, and a landslide in Washington state. All these events were preceded by warning signs, signals that would indicate a certain likelihood of occurrence.” So how do you make sense of all this, asked James Breckenridge, Ph.D. , in delivering his remarks to a full house gathered for the April 11 dedication of The Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies and Information Science . How do you separate the signals from the noise and reach some understanding of what it means so that we are not continually surprised and, therefore, less competitive, less safe and less secure? The answer, he profered, is in the interdisciplinary approach that the new Ridge School will take in merging the skill sets of the intelligence professional, the mathematics and computer systems expert, and the communications specialist to produce a career professional comfortable in all three domains. The intel hybrid – already a pioneer among academic institutions worldwide – has taken the name of another world-class pioneer: Tom Ridge , the nation’s frst Secretary of Homeland Security, the 43rd governor of Pennsylvania and Erie’s native son. In accepting the honor, Ridge told the crowd gathered in the board room of the Center for Academic Engagement in April that he was both humbled and fattered to be associated with a program that is already so well known. “This program is widely recognized and acclaimed in Washington regardless of who it is named after, and that’s a fact,” he said. Ridge credited the vision of Robert Heibel , who founded the program, and the ambitious new direction taken by Breckenridge, dean and architect of the Ridge School, as “revolutionary.” And in gratitude, Mercyhurst President Tom Gamble, Ph.D. , said, “We are deeply honored that Governor Ridge is lending his name to an innovative program that has helped catapult Mercyhurst University onto the world stage, and we look forward to graduating individuals who aspire to combine keen analytic skills with a commitment to genuine human fourishing in the manner of Governor Ridge.”


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