Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2013


APRIL 2013

Making history Rowing team breaks two world records

Inside this issue: Book tells Mercyhurst’s story Alum dives into drug research Student-athletes excel Alumni staf on world tour

From the president Is Mercyhurst a liberal arts institution or one committed to professional preparation? If you immediately said “it’s both !” you truly grasp what Mercyhurst is all about.

We don’t think it’s necessary to make “either-or” choices. We prefer the “both-and” approach.

We don’t have to choose between valuing the liberal arts and providing career preparation; both have a role. We don’t have to choose between being a beautiful “ivory tower” and being engaged in the world; we can be both. We don’t have to choose between ofering world-renowned academic programs and providing opportunity education; there’s a place here for both. We don’t have to choose between arts and athletics – we can do both. Not only can we do both – we do both, in Erie, in North East, at the Booker T. Washington Center, in Corry, in Taos, N. M., in Dungarvan, Ireland. Everywhere Mercyhurst goes, you can see this “both-and” approach.

It’s what makes Mercyhurst special, and it’s what makes Mercyhurst graduates special. Because of their professional preparation and their engagement in the world, they are ready to contribute on the job the day they are hired. Because of their liberal arts education, they can take a broad perspective and “see around the corner,” a crucial skill in the fast-changing work world. Because of the emphasis on service in their education, they take responsibility and demonstrate leadership. This is the vision of a Mercyhurst education. Everything we do is focused on the reconciliation of these apparent opposites to help create the well-balanced, thoughtful, vital and ethical leaders of tomorrow. The student-athletes who organized last month’s EnduROWthon are a great example. They study in some of our most demanding programs, and they compete successfully with top rowing teams at places like the Dad Vail and Henley regattas. But they went even further, meticulously organizing the 24-hour drive that set Erie’s frst Guinness World Records. In the process, they raised funds not only for their own trips, but also for the John Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and Project Kenya. From the quiet overnight hours when the rowers doggedly pursued their goal to the raucous fnal hours when the whole campus was caught up in the quest, I couldn’t have been prouder of our students. But that’s just one example of what Mercyhurst students are doing. I hope you’ll read through this magazine to see what other students and alumni have been up to. Then please stay connected with us between issues by checking out our revamped website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

God bless you, and God bless Mercyhurst.

Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D. President, Mercyhurst University


In this issue

The Ofce of Marketing and Public Relations publishes Mercyhurst Magazine twice a year.

Editor Susan Corbran ’73 (814) 824-2090

1 From the president 3 The Brotherhood of the River The Mercyhurst EnduROWthon 6 From the alumni association president 7 Double life Professor’s careers in classroom and in military 9 Playing it safe New tactics in sports injury treatment 11 Sea change: New frontiers for drug research 13 Foundations of a university The Mercyhurst story 15 Spirits of the angry dead Rights activist seeks peace 17 Lakers excel as students and athletes 18 Saints succeed 19 Alumni authors on shelves Books written by ‘Hurst graduates 21 Campus news 24 Alumni relations world tour 25 Alumni notes

Contributing Writers Abby Badach, Susan Corbran ’73, David Leisering ’01, Deborah Morton, Brian Vail

Art Direction/Design Jennifer Cassano (814) 824-3022

Vice President for External Afairs Monsignor David Rubino, Ph.D. (814) 824-3034 Assistant Vice President for Advancement Ryan Palm ’07 Director, Alumni Relations Tamara Walters (814) 824-3350 Class Notes Editor Debra Tarasovitch (814) 824-2392 (800) 845-8568 (814) 824-3320 We’d love to hear from you. Send your story ideas, suggestions and comments to .

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The Brotherhood o f t h e River One team, 451,879 meters and an extraordinary test of endurance Story by Abby Badach Two minutes remained between the Mercyhurst men’s rowing team and a world record. Hundreds of students rushed the stage, fooding the Mercyhurst Athletic Center stage with chants: “Row! Row! Row!” And row, these 10 student-athletes did – for 24 straight hours, all the way to an ofcial Guinness World Record. “I don’t know if my body’s ever been to this point before,” said senior exercise science major Jake Schuppe, who rowed the fnal 30 seconds. Schuppe is no stranger to endurance events. He’s competed in 24-hour mountain bike relays, but even that doesn’t compare. “With the atmosphere that my team created, we pushed ourselves so far past any perceivable limit we ever thought we’d even get close to,” he said. “My body is in shambles – but, you know what? It was phenomenal. And I’d happily do it again.” This a story of how adrenaline slays fatigue. This is the ultimate display of teamwork. 3

’ This is the Mercyhurst EnduROWthon. On March 7-8, 10 student-athletes from the mens rowing team rowed 451,879 meters to break a record for the greatest distance rowed by a lightweight mens small team on an indoor Concept II rowing machine in a 24-hour period. The previous record of 405,000 was set in December 2008 by a Hungarian club rowing team. Student organizers dubbed the event the Mercyless EnduROWthon. It transformed the MAC into a 24-hour madhouse of whirring ergs, cheering students and a tsunami of energy. In addition to setting a Guinness record, the mens team also set a record adjudicated through Concept II. ’ “ ” ’

” “It was nuts. It was unbelievable, said junior computer systems major and team captain Xavier Alexander. “I m so glad I m a part of this team, and I m so proud of my guys. To clinch the distance record, the mens team rotated on the erg for 30-second, full-intensity shifts. The machine s fywheel had to remain spinning for the record to be legitimate, so man-to-man transitions had to be fawless. After 4 minutes and 30 seconds to ’ ’ ’ ” ’ ’

“ That was probably one of the most painful experiences I ve been in for a while, Schuppe said. “But as soon as it was over, there was just a rush of emotions. The cheering from the crowd, all of my teammates slapping me on the back, hugging me, congratulating me – it was euphoric. ’ ” ” recuperate, each rower was back on the erg. The overnight shift allowed one rower at a time to take a 40-minute nap break, challenging the remaining nine to up their intensity. But they powered through for 24 hours to make history.

’ And as if one world record weren t enough, the EnduROWthon broke two. Across the stage from the mens varsity team was another rowing machine, on which 600 people took shifts to shatter the world record for most people to row 500 meters on a single erg in 24 hours. ’ Mercyhurst students, faculty, administrators and staf – even Louie the Laker – hopped on to take a turn, as did people from the Erie community.

’ For Jef Murt, a senior intelligence studies major and rower, the most powerful moment of the EnduROWthon wasn t with his varsity team. In the quiet depth of the overnight shift, a young boy with cerebral palsy got to do his part. The boy came with his mother at 4 a.m., took a seat on the erg and rowed his way into the record books.

” ’ “His mother was in tears – it was a very powerful thing to see, Murt said. “Honestly, even though the mens varsity team broke the record, giving that little boy a chance to be a part of something so huge, that made this whole thing worth it. ” The EnduROWthon marked the frst time a Guinness World Record had ever been set in Erie, Pa. To achieve certifcation, the team kept a meticulous record of all the statistics and even few in a Guinness judge from England to oversee the event.


“ Nearly 300 people packed the MAC to cheer on all the rowers to the fnish – including Allan Belovarac, Ph.D., Mercyhurst history professor and a member and coach of the rowing team in its early years. Back in the 1970s, faces in the regatta crowds were mainly parents and girlfriends, he recalls. The EnduROWthon introduced hundreds of folks to the sport. ”

’ But a rower doesn t count faces in the stands. He looks within himself. He looks to his team.

“ ’ You re kind of a part of this brotherhood of the river – it s almost like being in a fraternity, Belovarac said. All of these guys for the rest of their lives cross a bridge or come to a body of water, and one of the frst things to come to their mind will be, That would be a great place to row. It gets in your blood. You never get out of it. ‘ ’ ’ ” “ ‘ ” Through donations, sponsorships and rafes, the EnduROWthon helped raise $5,300 for Project Kenya, the John C. Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and the rowing team, as they travel nationally and internationally to compete.

’ With a schedule that includes Penn, Columbia, Cornell and MIT, Mercyhurst mens rowing has achieved considerable success in recent years. In 2012, the mens varsity lightweight eight team fnished the campaign ranked 10th in the U.S. Rowing Collegiate Poll, and for the third consecutive year captured gold at the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta. ’ ’ Achieving world record status at the EnduROWthon set the tone for this teams commitment to each other and to the sport of rowing at Mercyhurst. “It feels almost euphoric, said coach Adrian Spracklen ‘90. “I didn t know how I d feel when we fnished, because it s not a race. It s not a competition. But … I feel very proud. I feel proud for the rowers. I feel proud for the school – because we ve done something that no one else has done, and we did it at Mercyhurst. ” ’ ’ ’ ’ ’ ”

EnduROWthon Team: Kevon Bridges Jake Schuppe Xavier Alexander Ivan Palikuca Sam Rouse Milos Veres Gary Loo Jonathan Blazevic

Marcin Osajda Dave Cullmer

So how far is 451,879 meters , anyway? Here are a few comparisons to help you put it in perspective: • More than 280 miles

• Nearly 5 times the width of Lake Erie • More than 21 trips around Presque Isle • More than 7 times the length of the Panama Canal • 4,118 football fields

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From the alumni association president

Dear fellow Lakers:

A fantastic time of year! Spring is in the air and the end of the school year seems to be right around the corner.

For many Mercyhurst students it signifes graduation, the end of an episode, and the commencement of all that is yet to come in their continuing journey. For the Mercyhurst University Alumni Association, it means the addition of close to 1,000 new members representing the Mercy mission, spirit and ideals throughout the world. This year we will have more than 19,000 alumni living and working in all 50 states and in more than 40 countries around the world. Our alumni are impacting all facets of the world: social services, government, education, hospitality, fashion, business, military, ministry, sports, law enforcement, anthropology, medicine, the arts. No doubt that Mercyhurst University is infuencing the world and making a diference! A goal of the Mercyhurst University Alumni Association is to keep all of the 19,000+ alumni connected and engaged with the university beyond graduation – no matter where you may be living. One way in which we do this is to provide opportunities for local and regional events where alumni gather to reminisce, network and renew and/or maintain friendships. Visit the alumni events website ( ) to see where events for the current World Tour are scheduled. Other events bring alumni back to campus, such as the annual Homecoming/Family Weekend and Reunion Weekend. While these gatherings provide an occasion to enjoy the many diverse aspects of the campus, the front gates are always open for returning alumni. Reunion Weekend 2013 is scheduled for May 31 to June 2. Mark your calendar now to join us, especially if your class is celebrating a milestone reunion this year. Registration options and more information are also available online at .

While you’re on the alumni website, make sure to download one of our new Mercyhurst- themed wallpapers for desktops, tablets and smartphones. View all the available images at .

On behalf of the entire Alumni Association Board of Directors, we invite you to stay connected and engaged with us as we move into the future of Mercyhurst. If you have ideas about how to better do this, or to help alumni connect and network, let us know – we want to hear from you!

Carpe diem.

Matthew Robaszkiewicz ’88, president Mercyhurst University National Alumni Association

Stay connected: • Visit the university website • Join the online Alumni Community

• Visit us on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin Matthew Robaszkiewicz’s column appears regularly on Hurst Happenings, the alumni blog.


“ A Mercyhurst lifer, Belovarac says he s worked at least part time at his alma mater ever since his 1973 graduation. For most of that time, he s had a parallel career in naval intelligence. ” ’ ’ ’ Belovarac arrived at Mercyhurst in 1971 as a junior transfer and quickly settled into the school s history department and its brand-new rowing program. Belovarac had never rowed before, though hed been at home on the water since childhood. ’ “ He made history as part of the frst Laker crew to win a race, beating Bufalo State and the Canisius novice team in October 1971. After graduation, he returned as an assistant coach, became head coach in 1979, and guided the program through its growth phase until 1986. Though he enjoyed his history studies, he never expected to teach the subject, not in my wildest dreams. He earned a master s degree in history from Case Western Reserve, but found himself drawn instead to college administration. ” ’ ’ While continuing to coach the rowing team, he served Mercyhurst as registrar, director of institutional research and more. In 1979 he was asked to don one more hat and teach a few history courses. He discovered it wasn t as bad as hed imagined. Though he says he s basically very shy, throw him in front of a classroom ’ ’ Leading a double life Story by Sue Corbran When Allan Belovarac steps to the podium to teach “War in the Western World” this term, he brings with him background that not many history professors can claim – 28 years of experience as an intelligence specialist in the U.S. Naval Reserve. and he turns into a dynamic lecturer. History is the mother of all disciplines, he believes, and he enjoys nothing more than helping students connect the lessons of the past to the world around them today.

’ Though he was deeply disappointed by his disqualifcation, he can laugh about it now. “Don t they know that Admiral Nelson was blind in one eye?” he asks, or that Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill wearing glasses?” “ ’ Years later, Belovarac found another route to naval service, signing on as an enlisted man in 1984. But by this time he had earned a Ph.D. in higher education at the University of Bufalo and his new bosses quickly realized his background in analysis and writing suited him for naval intelligence. Belovarac s skills paved the way to his enlistment as a second-class petty ofcer and intel specialist. After two years of training, he received a direct commission as an ensign in December 1986. During monthly weekend drills and summer assignments lasting several weeks, he did the same kind of work done by regular Navy personnel. Should trouble erupt, the Navy needed a complete picture of the area, from the spots where helicopters could land to the lines of communication available. So his unit might be called on study the region. His specialty was photo imagery. That kind of work is computerized now, but in those days he worked with slide rules, calculating distances by analyzing shadows and objects of known sizes. ’ Over the years, he rose through the ranks to commander, served missions around the world (most notably in Japan and Malta) and earned a variety of commendations. He also added to his academic credentials, earning a master s in strategic intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College, where his dissertation on the rising naval power of China was chosen outstanding thesis. Reserve units have to be ready to respond on short notice in the event of an emergency. Several times that has meant call-ups for weeks or months of full-time service. He was mobilized for the frst Iraqi war in 1991, working from a base in Norfolk to feed intelligence to the front lines during the invasion of Kuwait. In 1996 he was recalled to support the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. In the aftermath of 9-11 he helped coordinate the sharing of intelligence between the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. naval command in the area. Most recently Belovarac returned to Japan to help set up a Crisis Action Center for U.S. Forces Japan after the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011. In the Navy Coming from a family with a long Navy history, Belovarac once dreamed of entering the U.S. Naval Academy. While in grad school at Case, he pursued the next best thing – a commission in the Naval Reserve – until his trademark thick glasses eventually proved his undoing.



Belovarac is married to Lee Pitonyak Belovarac, a 1974 Mercyhurst graduate who now teaches in the Walker School of Business. Their son Brian is a Syracuse University graduate now working for Janus Films in New York, and Brendan is finishing a master’s degree at American University and was recently accepted to medical school.

’ Retirement ahead Regulations call for naval reserve ofcers to retire when they hit 60, so this chapter of Belovarac s story

“ closed last summer. There are no similar limits for college professors, but he expects to retire from Mercyhurst at the close of fall term. His retirement years are likely to be anything but relaxing, though. Hes become involved with the unique sport of solo sailing as a member of the Great Lakes Single-Handed Society, open only to sailors who ve completed one of its daunting Great Lakes challenges. ” ’ ’ ’ A single sailor mans the boat 24/7 and must complete the lengthy courses without pulling into port or receiving assistance of any kind. His goal is to fnish a challenge on each of the Great Lakes and he s already completed Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. He hopes to conquer Lake Huron this summer. Last summer he earned the Perseverance Cup, awarded to the solo sailor who copes with the greatest adversity. During his Ontario sail, his spinnaker halyard broke in the middle of the night in 20-knot winds, the self-steering system went out, the toilet holding tank overfowed, and he got caught in a line of squalls. Closer to home, Belovarac wants to get involved again on the volunteer crew of the Brig Niagara. He was part of the frst crew that sailed Niagara in 1991. “I like the smell of tar and sawdust, he explains. “I love it when the ship comes alive and wind flls the sails. ” ” “ ’ It sounds like a demanding schedule, but Belovarac has a simple philosophy. God s given us this time on earth and we ought to take advantage of all the gifts He s put there for us. Or, in words attributed to his hero, Teddy Roosevelt, we need to warm both hands over the fre of life. ’ ” “ ” On land, Belovarac is also a member of the Ski Patrol at Peek ‘ n Peak Ski Resort and continues to pursue advanced training in skiing techniques and in toboggan rescues of injured skiers.


Playing it safe ‘Hurst team shows NFL new treatment protocol Story by Abby Badach All college students expect to have research projects under their belts before they graduate. But scoring a chance to present that research to the NFL? That’s taking it to the next level. Mercyhurst graduate student Jacob Gdovin and his faculty adviser, Bradley Jacobson, chair of the Sportsmedicine Department, spent last summer presenting their research regarding on-feld injury management of players with possible spinal injuries to the medical stafs of NFL teams. In collaboration with Mike Cendoma, CEO of Sports Medicine Concepts of Livonia, N.Y., the pair took their research to NFL neurosurgeons, athletic trainers, team physicians and paramedics in an all-day, hands-on laboratory presentation. They worked with the New York Giants, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and the Dallas Cowboys – which happens to be the team Gdovin has rooted for since he was a boy. “I was there as a professional, so I had business to take care of,” he said. “But inside? I was like a little kid, just taking in the sights and sounds. It was a dream come true. I’m 23 years old, and I’m out teaching the medical staf for the Dallas Cowboys right on their home turf. It was quite an experience.”

Their research backed it up. “The amount of movement between the head and the torso was signifcantly less,” Jacobson said. “In essence, it’s a simple concept. Our research demonstrated a safer protocol to use instead of the all-or-nothing endeavor.” The faculty-student duo collected data at the Movement Analysis Laboratory at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Erie. The lab, under the direction of Kevin M. Cooney, PT, and biomechanist Dustin Bruening, Ph.D., uses high-tech motion sensor cameras that track refective markers placed on the body to measure the person’s movement. The highly accurate technology is similar to that used in video games, or the motion-capture equipment that transferred real humans’ dance steps to penguin waddles in the hit movie Happy Feet . “Skin-based anatomical marker tracking is the closest we can get to clinically replicating movement at this time,” Cooney said. “When the cameras track the markers, they collect very accurately, to the millimeter, the movement that occurred.” The research project stemmed from Gdovin’s required undergraduate baccalaureate research project – a mini-thesis of sorts, required of all sportsmedicine students since 2002. He collaborated with Jacobson from the beginning, with the goal of getting their fndings published. They submitted a manuscript to the Journal of Athletic Training , which was approved in 2012 and is slated for publication this summer. The pair plans to tackle more research together over the summer. Gdovin is completing a graduate assistantship with Cooney at the Movement Analysis Lab and will graduate from Mercyhurst this spring with a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in human resources. “He’s very professional and extremely thorough,” Cooney said. “He’s easygoing but disciplined and he’ll get the job done. He’s going to go places in his career.” In the fall, Gdovin will be back on campus to start graduate studies in exercise science. His dream job is to become an orthopedic surgeon for an NFL team. With the hands-on education he received at Mercyhurst, he says he’s confdent he’ll get there. “The OL program helped me study business management and leadership, giving me a sense of what it would be like to lead a team of future health professionals,” Gdovin said. “The exercise science program will help me learn the skills I’ll need in my feld, and help me to go on to succeed in medical school.” Jacobson said he’s grateful to be a part of a university that supports hands-on applications for students and faculty alike. “The administration here at Mercyhurst has been very supportive of providing opportunities through equipment, laboratories, research contracts for faculty members and research assistantships for students,” he said. “When you think of why we do research, it’s to beneft somebody. It’s benefcial for the community – and for the athletes whose health and well-being will be improved because of the improved healthcare that’s provided to them.”

Picture this scenario that’s bound to happen in a full-contact sport:

A football player takes a hard hit and falls to his back. His helmet comes of. The medical team rushes in, suspecting that he has injured his cervical spine – the vertebrae between his shoulders and the base of his skull. One wrong move could cause career-ending or life-threatening conditions, including paralysis. Medical professionals on the feld have to proceed carefully to minimize movement of the cervical spine as they care for the injured athlete. So, what’s the best way to treat such a delicate injury that minimizes movement of the afected area? Jacobson and Gdovin aimed to fnd out, collecting data on two diferent methods. The standard protocol is dubbed the “all-or-nothing endeavor.” Picture that downed football player again. He’s without a helmet, but his bulky shoulder pads are still on, which lift his torso up and tilt his head down toward the ground. The National Athletic Trainer Association recommends that the shoulder pads also be removed so the athlete’s neck can return to a more neutral position. Jacobson and Gdovin, however, proposed a diferent option, which they call the “pack-and-fll.” Under this protocol, the athlete’s shoulder pads stay on and the void underneath the head is flled with towels to reduce movement and keep the cervical spine in a neutral position. They thought that keeping the shoulder pads on would reduce movement of the afected area and help protect the injured athlete from further injury.


Kevin M. Cooney, Bradley Jacobson, Jacob Gdovin


Sea change: New frontiers for drug research Story by Sue Corbran Kevin Tidgewell escaped Pennsylvania’s dreary winter weather in January for two and a half weeks to sunny Panama and a series of dives in warm Caribbean waters. The scenery was gorgeous, the water teemed with diverse species, but Tidgewell was no tourist.

’ Dr. Ron Brown, now the chair of Mercyhurst s Chemistry Department, says Tidgewell was one of the frst students he met when he joined the faculty in 1999, and he left quite an impression. “I remember being very excited to have the opportunity to work with a student of Kevins abilities, he recalled. “I have always felt that the biggest reward of being a Mercyhurst professor is witnessing the transformation that takes place in our students between that meeting as freshmen and when they graduate. ’ ” ” ’ Hes proud that Tidgewell has remained in close contact as an alumnus, including returning to speak with current students. “I would like to believe this is because of the experiences that he gained here, and his desire to draw upon the tradition of strong faculty-student mentorship present at Mercyhurst in his current position, he said. Tidgewell still keeps tabs on the Lakers lacrosse team as they contend for national titles and returned for Homecoming last fall to play in the alumni lacrosse game. During that visit, he also stopped in to check out the new lacrosse locker room, which includes a locker he sponsored during the Legacy Campaign.



It was a business trip for the 2003 Mercyhurst graduate, who has spent much of his career searching for marine compounds that might one day help those sufering from pain and disease. He’s continuing that research now at Duquesne University, where he was appointed assistant professor of medicinal chemistry last fall. With the widest variety of living organisms on earth, the oceans may well be the latest frontier for medical research. Tidgewell was hunting for cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae or pond scum) and returned to Pittsburgh with enough to propel his research for several months. The raw material isn’t glamorous. It looks a bit like hair or limp seaweed, feels a bit slimy and looks pretty gross. When Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World series featured Tidgewell’s work, the narrator said cyanobacteria looked like “marine snot.” But back in his lab, using state-of-the-art nuclear magnetic resonance and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry instruments, he hopes to isolate from the cyanobacteria compounds that could lead to advances in pain relief and addiction treatment. How and why do his test compounds react with pain receptors in the human brain? That’s the riddle he’s trying to solve. Though it’s far from the ocean depths where he fnds his raw materials, Tidgewell says Duquesne is a good ft for him because of its focus on pain studies. In addition to teaching medicinal chemistry courses in the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Mylan School of Pharmacy, he’s part of the Chronic Pain Research Consortium (CPRC), collaborating with scientists from many disciplines to better understand and treat disorders of the central nervous system. A native of Irvine in Southern California, Tidgewell was recruited to join Mercyhurst’s lacrosse program in fall of 1999. His teams never fnished out of the Top 10, and he capped his career with an appearance in the NCAA Final Four. His success in the classroom was just as memorable. Tidgewell knew he wanted to major in chemistry and focused on computational chemistry and math at the Hurst. He worked with Dr. Candee Chambers to investigate a sulfur compound released by garlic that seemed to have some medicinal properties. The

compound disappeared within minutes once the garlic clove was cracked, though, so they looked for a way to stabilize it and harness its healing potential. But a summer at the University of Florida in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) convinced him he wanted to get out from behind the desk. He continued to study natural products while earning his doctorate at the University of Iowa, where his mentor, Dr. Thomas E. Prisinzano, sought treatments for pain that wouldn’t cause drug dependence. Later, as a post-doctoral fellow with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he worked in Dr. William Gerwick’s lab at the University of San Diego. There his focus turned to drug discovery from the ocean, primarily looking for cancer-fghting drugs. After about two and half years in San Diego, he accepted another post-doc assignment in Panama with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, still afliated with the Gerwick lab. In an unspoiled wilderness, he found a rich hunting ground for materials that might one day help treat both cancer and neglected tropical diseases like malaria and leishmaniasis. The work involved frequent scuba excursions – not as much fun as it might sound for Tidgewell, who had a deep aversion to water after nearly drowning when he was just 2. Though he grew up in Southern California, he pretty much avoided the ocean until the demands of science forced him to conquer his fear and now he is as comfortable underwater as on land. When he headed to Duquesne, a new post-doc took his place in Panama, but Tidgewell still intends to return about twice a year to obtain his own lab samples. He’s found his research home in medicinal and natural products chemistry with its focus on developing and testing compounds. He calls it “chemistry with a purpose.” And he believes it’s important to act quickly. “Due to problems with ocean acidifcation and pollution, species are disappearing every day,” he says. “We need to fnd them before they’re gone.” He doesn’t measure success only in terms of drug patents, noting that it can take years, even decades, to shepherd a new product through animal and human trials to actual use. “But if I can go and discover a tool to better understand pain or addiction or depression, that’s a win.”

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Foundations of a university Story by Sue Corbran

New book chronicles Mercyhurst history from its founding to 2000

Strausbaugh started with the accounts compiled by Mother Eustace and McQuillen and documented them through primary sources. He turned to self-study documents and evaluations from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; minutes of the board of trustees; papers left by Sister Carolyn Herrmann and Sister M. Charles Weschler, among others; and accounts from the Merciad student newspaper. Mother Borgia Egan and others of the “Pioneer Sisters” left memoirs about the founding of the school. He reviewed those, as well as oral history interviews with prominent fgures in Mercyhurst’s development, recorded by former Erie Morning News Managing Editor Larie Pintea in the early 1990s. Strausbaugh credits both Earleen Glaser, the Mercyhurst University archivist, and Sister M. Edith Langiotti, RSM, archivist for the Erie community of the Sisters of Mercy, for assistance in accessing these sources. He dedicates the volume to “the Sisters of Mercy who founded, brought to life and guided Mercyhurst College.”“No story of Mercyhurst can be told without understanding the contributions of the Sisters of Mercy, their labor, love, and passion for this college,” he adds. But as the decades passed, forces beyond the control of the Sisters helped shape the school’s direction. Throughout, Strausbaugh tries to show how events at the college mirrored changes in American higher education, the church and society itself. The narrative ends around the turn of the 21st century. “A historian is not a journalist,” Strausbaugh concluded. “For good history to be written, it is better that some time pass and perspective be gained. And so, another historian, down the road, will be better positioned to assess the transition to university status in the years since 2000.” The 430-page volume includes 12 pages of black-and-white photos from the Sister Mary Lawrence Franklin Archives at Mercyhurst. It is available for sale in the Mercyhurst bookstores at Erie and North East. The book sells for $30, but is currently on special at $24.

Roy Strausbaugh, Ph.D., is a specialist in European history, but his latest book tackles a subject much closer to home – the founding and development of Mercyhurst University. The Foundations of a University: Mercyhurst in the Twentieth Century , researched and written over the past six years, is now available for purchase in bookstores on Mercyhurst’s Erie and North East campuses. Strausbaugh approached Mercyhurst President Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D., early in his tenure to suggest that Mercyhurst needed to create a comprehensive history. The last major history of Mercyhurst was compiled by Sister M. Eustace Taylor, RSM, Ph.D., in 1976 when the college celebrated its 50th anniversary. Mother Eustace was personally involved in the history she wrote about. A member of Mercyhurst’s frst graduating class in 1929, she taught at the school for decades and served a term as its president in the late 1950s. More recently, another history professor, Michael McQuillen, Ph.D., began compiling a Mercyhurst history, but had to cut the project short when he was appointed Mercyhurst’s president in 2005. Strausbaugh was uniquely suited to take on the task of chronicling ‘Hurst history. He had worked at Mercyhurst since 1994, serving in a variety of roles from director of libraries to academic dean at Mercyhurst North East. He’s now a visiting professor of history. He earned his doctorate at Case Western Reserve University. This was a second career for Strausbaugh, who had already retired from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania as a tenured professor of history. While there, he wrote his frst college history, Edinboro University, Administrative History, 1963-1993 . More recently, he had served as a trustee and board chair at Greenville’s Thiel College, an experience that helped him better understand the operations of small, church-related, liberal arts colleges.

You can also order it online at .


Going coed

“ It was more than coed drift”; by the fall of 1968 it was de facto coeducation. The fnal decision was to accept what Mercyhurst was doing and, for fnancial exchange program as full-time students. In this way these men could obtain their courses in the major feld. By the spring of 1969, there were some twelve full-time male commuter students at Mercyhurst. Since 1962, the cooperative program with Gannon had brought men to the campus and sent Mercyhurst women to Gannon. … In 1967, when Mercyhurst went to a three-term system, coordinating an exchange of students with Gannon created scheduling problems. After almost two years of frustration, Mercyhurst accepted men in the

’ survival, move to the deliberate recruitment of male students. The board s choices were simple, remain a womans college and tolerate a few men, or break with tradition and become coeducational. ’ “ ” ’ In making this decision, another reality had to be faced. The enrollment of the college was declining at a time when most colleges were growing quite well. Infuenced by the womens movement and the need to have skills to compete with men in the workplace, women were transferring from womens colleges to coeducational institutions at an increasing rate. The Registrar s Ofce reported that this was happening at Mercyhurst. While the baby boomers were entering higher education in increasing numbers, Mercyhurst was losing out. The 1968/1969 fscal year ended with a defcit of $35,753. The fnancial perils of remaining a womens college were there for all to see. ’ ’ ’ ’ During four months beginning in late 1968, the college devoted itself to an intensive study of the issue. With the direction of the administration, the issue was considered by students, faculty, administration and the advisory board. The majority in most constituencies of the school strongly supported and recommended the change, except for students. They were evenly split. The administrations fndings were submitted to the trustees. The board, made up of seven Sisters of Mercy and two laymen, agreed. Sister Carolyn announced the trustees decision on February 5, 1969, the day after the trustees had voted. … ’ “ Because of changing roles of women in society, coeducation was more realistic. Monosexual (sic) education … imposed … unnecessary limitations on a student s educational experience. ’ ” “ The decision was not one that all stakeholders accepted. Sister Carolyn refected years later that not enough groundwork had been done with the alumnae, especially the older graduates. Not all of the Sisters were in favor of this decision, nor were all of the faculty and upper class students enthused. Negative feelings about the decision lasted for years. As Sister Carolyn said, …the realities impelled us. To her it was a matter of saving Mercyhurst. ”

– From Chapter 5, “A New and Different Mercyhurst: 1966-1972.”


Calming spirits of the angry dead Armed with the skill sets of this pioneering program, the distinguished human rights activist intends to return to her native Zimbabwe and resume a crusade that, at its heart, is the pursuit of healing. Story by Debbie Morton


Zimbabwe is rife with tragedy; the human wreckage of three eras of political violence is widespread and the spirits are angry. No more so than Shari Eppel, whose anger has driven the human rights work of this 50-something psychologist for two decades. Eppel has taken a one-year sabbatical from her post as executive director of the Solidarity Peace Trust, which assists victims of human rights abuses in their eforts to end the oppression, so that she may earn her master’s degree in forensic and biological anthropology at Mercyhurst University. Armed with the skill sets of this pioneering program, the distinguished human rights activist intends to return to her native Zimbabwe and resume a crusade that, at its heart, is the pursuit of healing. She is a serious woman on a serious mission. She knows hers is a job that may never be done, but she does it for Edwell and for the tens of thousands of victims like him. Edwell was 19 when soldiers nailed him to a tree and savagely beat him to death. Adding indignity on top of horror, they shoved his body in an ant-bear hole – a fnal resting place reserved for dogs – in a nearby schoolyard. “The children run on his head every day,” his mother lamented to Eppel one afternoon. “How can he rest?” Across her African homeland, especially in its remote villages, Eppel is privy to whispered stories of the wrath of ancestral spirits. “In African culture, the spirits of the angry dead are an overpowering weight in people’s lives and there’s a fatalism linked to that,” she said. “If you don’t properly honor and bury your dead, it is believed that bad luck will befall you, your family and your community.” For much of the past 20 years, Eppel has documented Zimbabwe’s political violence, most recently under the Robert Mugabe regime. She has done interviews, written journal articles and disseminated her fndings to policymakers worldwide to sway public opinion on Zimbabwe. “There is such a lack of accountability for all the bad things that have happened in Zimbabwe,” Eppel said. “We are dealing with dead, tortured and displaced people. There needs to be an end to the human rights violations and to the impunity.”

In her quest to right the wrongs, Eppel and her group have put themselves at risk, facing staf arrests and raids on their ofces. One of her colleagues “disappeared” and has not been seen in a year. Fortunately, her children, Ben, Joe and Ruth, no longer live in Zimbabwe, although Paul Themba Nyathi, the man she calls her “life partner” and describes as a “fearless activist,” remains behind. She worries, but not for herself. “People are afraid to step up and lead for fear of reprisals,” Eppel said. “I am more angry than afraid. Being white protects me. I’m the only white person in our organization (of 17) and am less likely to be targeted. Still none of us has it in our blood to capitulate to the state.” So, they go on, deftly tending to the emotional needs of the tortured while locating and chronicling histories of mass graves. Eppel instituted a program of exhumations and reburials in response to pleas like those of Edwell’s mother, but bouts of political violence frequently disrupted her eforts. In her pursuit to perform scientifcally accurate exhumations, she received training from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, the foremost human rights organization in the world, and later met with one of its prominent international lecturers, Mercyhurst forensic anthropologist Steven Symes, Ph.D., who convinced her that Mercyhurst’s master’s degree program would further empower her eforts. “The Argentineans told me that Mercyhurst’s program was the best, and they were right,” she said. “It’s been brilliantly helpful.” As Zimbabwe now faces a new political era, with a possible change in government being more concordant with Eppel’s own mission, she decided it was time to retrain so that she would be ready to resume her work when obstacles became less dangerous. Eppel’s Mercyhurst training focuses on scientifc procedures for identifying graves and removing remains; analyzing bones to determine sex, height, age and ethnicity of skeletons; identifying signs of trauma and documenting evidence that may one day lead to securing justice for the victims and their families. As her mission moves from documentation to intervention to healing, she fnds herself on a continuum where the worlds of the living and the dead ultimately intersect. “Exhumation and reburials are part of empowering the people,” Eppel said. “The right to mourn your dead is a moral right. If we are to have any chance at all of bringing peace to the living, we have to bring peace to the dead.”

Shari Eppel’s children, Joe and Ruth, with Edwell’s mother, Ma Ndlovu, at his reburial site in Zimbabwe.


Lakers excel as students and athletes

’ ESPN s SportsCenter featured junior Jonathan Ouegnin on its Feb. 21 Top 10 Plays list for his dunk in a win over rival Gannon. “ ”

’ Womens basketball advanced to the PSAC Tournament for the frst time since 2011. Kaylee Foster led the team with 11.1 points per game, fnishing her career with the ninth-best feld goal percentage in school history. Dana Banda wrapped up her career with 381 assists, the second-most in program history.

’ Senior forward Gina Buquet won the Elite 89 award at the Division I national womens hockey tournament. She was Mercyhurst s ffth winner of the Elite 89, given to the athlete with the highest ’ Both Laker hockey teams had exciting postseason runs. The women won the College Hockey America tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the ninth straight year. After knocking of #2 seed Cornell to reach the Frozen Four for the third time in program history, the Lakers fell to Boston University in the semifnals. Christine Bestland was CHA Player of the Year and Stephanie Ciampa was named CHA Tournament MVP.

’ Mens soccer advanced to the NCAA Final Four for the frst time since 2002, winning its frst PSAC Championship in the process. Alex Manea was chosen Daktronics Regional Player of the Year.

The football team won the PSAC West for the second time in three seasons. Quarterback Anthony Vendemia was selected for the PSAC Fall Top Ten list, while running back Brandon Brown-Dukes was the PSAC West Freshman of the Year.

’ cumulative grade-point average participating at the fnals site for each NCAA championship. Previous honorees were Vicki Bendus (also of womens hockey), Bethany Brun (womens rowing, a two-time winner) and Ian Wild (mens lacrosse). ’ ’ ’ The mens hockey team beat Army, Holy Cross and Connecticut on its way to the title game in the Atlantic Hockey Association tournament before losing to Canisius.

’ Mens water polo had its best season in program history, winning 23 games and qualifying for Easterns for the frst time ever.

’ The Lakers fnished the season ranked 17 th in the country, and Brett Luehmann was national co-player of the year after breaking Mercyhurst s career points record. Volleyball made the NCAA Tournament for the frst time since 2009 and Elyse Texido was named the PSAC West Defensive Player of the Year.

’ Luis Leao of the mens basketball team has been selected to the 2012-13 National Association of Basketball Coaches All-

’ America Team, the frst Laker in program history to earn the honor. Earlier, Leao put up 18.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game as the mens basketball team qualifed for the PSAC Tournament for the fourth straight season. A native of Brazil, he was the PSAC Western Division Athlete of the Year and was named to the Capital One Academic All-America First - Team – also the frst student athlete in program history to win those honors.

- Jake Pilarski and Kristen Vidmar of the golf team were both honored as PSAC Champion Scholar Athletes for earning the highest GPA among student athletes competing in the conference championship. Mercyhurst posted an Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 82 percent for freshmen enrolled 2002-2005, above both the 78 percent average of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the 72 percent national average for student-athletes.


Laker sports camps

- Twelve members of the feld hockey team were named to the 2012 Gladiator by SGI/NFHCA Division II National Academic Squad, with seniors Megan Richards and Jessica Richards both fnishing their careers as four time honorees. Meghan Smith was named a Scholar of Distinction with a cumulative grade point average above 3.9. Wrestling won the Division II

Academic National Championship, recording the highest team GPA in the nation. The Lakers earned a 3.379 team GPA and landed eight student-athletes on the All- Academic Team. Wrestler Ryan Bohince earned All-America honors at nationals, fnishing seventh in the 125-pound weight class. He went 35-7 in his freshman season. Teammate Dylan

Training the next generation of athletes. BASEBALL July 15-17, Grades K-12 - $80 MEN’S HOCKEY Rick Gotkin’s Laker Hockey School Aug. 5-10, all ages, no experience necessary - $200 WOMEN’S HOCKEY

D’Urso took the Most Technical Falls Award at nationals after having 11 total technical falls this season, the most in Division II. Coach Mike Wehler was named the Division II Bob Bubb Coaching Excellence Award. For details on these and other achievements by Laker student-athletes, visit . Saints succeed

Mike Sisti’s Elite Developmental Camp July 8-12, ages 11 and up - $825 resident $650 day camper MEN’S SOCCER Individual Elite Camp July 22-25, advanced players ages 15 and up $360 overnight; $260 commuter Team Camp July 29-Aug. 1, high school

’ The new womens swim program was honored as most improved team at the Region III Championships. Freshman Destine Godfrey won three individual events and was named 2013 Region III Female Swimmer of the meet. At the NJCAA national championships in March, Godfrey brought home

and club teams $360 per player overnight, $260 per player commuter

All-American honors by placing 6th in the 200 Individual Medley. Several individual swimmers and relay teams captured honorable mentions.

’ Both the mens and womens soccer teams made it to the Region III, Division I playofs. The men ended their season with a loss to Bryant and ’ Stratton in the semifnals; the women fnished as runners-up to Monroe Community College.

- Wrestling coach Aaron Cooper was elected to a two year term as vice president of the National Junior College Athletic Association coaches association and was also named Wrestling Man of the Year. “ ”

For updates on sports at North East, visit .

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Visit for details about these and other camps planned for Summer 2013.


Alumni authors on shelves

Color Blind People today often claim proudly that they’re color blind – that they

Small Shoes Camille Licate ’96 has always embraced growth and change. Now she’s shared her philosophy about coping with change in a book, Small Shoes: Outgrowing Old Relationships & Finding

don’t even notice color when they meet someone of a diferent racial background. Tifany Rae Reid ’97 believes that’s the wrong approach. “By not seeing color, you’re not honoring my history, you’re not honoring my culture and heritage, you’re not honoring the challenges and obstacles I have because of the color of my skin that you will never

the Right Fit . “Like shoes that once ft you so well, relationships can become too small, out of style, or just too old,” she explains. She says her

face,” she says. Her philosophy, born of personal experience, is simple: “Only when we can begin to acknowledge our diferences can we ever begin to celebrate the similarities.” Until her mid-20s, Reid self-identifed as white. She’d never met her father, a black man, and accepted her mother’s explanation that her dark complexion, curly hair and thick lips refected her “dark Hungarian” ancestors. She eventually forged a relationship with her absentee dad and even forgave her mother for the long-running deception, but grew convinced that colorblindness – raising biracial children without regard to the signifcance of the color of their skin – was wrong. She tells her story in Color Blind – A Mixed Girl’s Perspective on Biracial Life , a 2011 book that’s become a powerful resource for parents raising biracial children, blended families and educators impacting multicultural classrooms. Reid earned her degree in forensic science at Mercyhurst, and then worked in corporate insurance in New York City, Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. After about a decade, she branched out to create her frst company – Life Coaching with Tifany Rae. The sideline has grown into a full-time calling, and she says she has fnally found her “divine assignment” working with biracial children and their families. All her activities focus on getting and keeping people talking about what it means to be multiracial and multicultural in America today. She hosts Mixed Race Radio, acts as a race relations expert for a nationally syndicated television show, and serves as a diversity trainer and community educator. She created S.I.M.P.L.L.L.E., a community success group dedicated to Supporting Interracial & Multicultural People Living, Loving, Learning Everywhere. Besides volunteering for several nonprofts, she’s a commissioner with the Camden County Human Relations Commission and was recently accepted into the 2013 New Leaders Council (NLC) Training Institute-Philadelphia chapter. Color Blind is available from booksellers on the Web and from Reid’s own website, .

book is meant to help people deal with the evolution of any relationship, whether it’s with a friend, lover, family member, money, job, belief system or life style. Dance Chair Tauna Hunter, who invited her former student back to campus to speak to today’s young dancers, called the book “a lovely way to process life’s epiphanies through a multitude of imaginative and delightful shoe metaphors.” Licate majored in dance at Mercyhurst, but studied anthropology as well. After graduation, she pursued both interests, moving to New York City where she studied and performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company and also worked as a pottery analyst for The American Museum of Natural History. She later shifted her focus to acting, performing with The Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C., before relocating to California to work as a professional actress. Her most recent flm, “There Will Be ____,” will premiere at The International Film Festival in Rotterdam and The New York City Film Festival this year. She’s also pursuing screenwriting and producing, and is currently working on a flm project designed to raise awareness for the endangered African Elephant. An animal lover, Licate volunteers for The California Wildlife Center and MuchLove Animal Rescue. When not working, she usually can be found blazing trails on horseback. She says that Georgia, an elderly horse she cared for, was one of her greatest teachers. Small Shoes is available on or at Licate’s e-book store, .


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