Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2021

” “Simply put, President Victor revitalized our campus, said Staf Senate President Courtney Olevnik ’08 ’13M. “He brought a sense of controlled urgency to the many facets that needed his immediate attention, but was laser-focused on increasing the morale of the students, staf, and faculty. In many ways, his infuence extended well beyond the Mercyhurst gates. He encouraged service learning opportunities and partnerships that would enrich both Mercyhurst students and residents of the greater Erie community. Among them, for example, are those with local school districts, the most recent of which is a $5 million state grant to operate after-school enrichment programs for young children and their families. Long known for its Fourth of July celebrations on campus, which ” ” ultimately became too large to sustain safely, Mercyhurst partnered with the city of Erie to restore a major community freworks display, this time over the Erie Bayfront. Their joint efort became known as “Lights over Lake Erie. - Recognizing a need for health care programs both locally and nationally, Mercyhurst announced a multi-year plan designed to strengthen and expand its two- and four year health care degree programs. The plan involves a multi-million-dollar investment in facilities upgrades on the Erie campus, while relocating all academic programs from its North East campus to Erie by June 2021. Negotiations to sell the North East property continue at this writing. In looking toward the future, Victor said, Over the years, leaders will come and go; Mercyhurst University will endure. In today s competitive higher education environment, universities that are timid in the face of change will wither and die. Mercyhurst has changed in many ways since I took ofce in 2015, evolving and innovating to better meet the needs of our students, faculty, and staf. We know, now more than ever, what we must do to thrive. “ ’ ” “ Mercyhurst Board of Trustees Chair Joseph G. NeCastro ’78 echoed similar sentiments: As we begin this transition in the university s leadership, it is important to remember Mercyhurst is stronger today than at any time in our 94-year history. We owe a debt of gratitude to President Victor for his years of dedicated service to the university and the transformative results of his leadership. ’ ”

” Saxon ‘89 and his wife Patty Kaliszak Saxon ‘91, after whom the university christened “Saxon Stadium. The university also obtained the Kern House, a presidential residence at 3906 State Street in Erie, through a gift from local philanthropists Bruce and Nancy Kern. A former business student of Victor s and successful entrepreneur Brian DeFrancesco ’06, now a Trustee, traveled from his home in Orange County, California, one day to have lunch with the president. It was that reunion that resulted in DeFrancesco donating the funds necessary to complete renovations to the university s library. ’ ’ ” “Seeing him devote his time to higher education and to lead and inspire students when he could have easily retired after his successful business career was a great example of how not to defne success from what you achieve in business alone, but by how you give back and inspire others, DeFrancesco said at the time. Signifcant contributions also came from Big Four accounting frm PricewaterhouseCoopers in support of a revolutionary Cyber Autism Pilot Program intended to prepare students of the Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst for careers in the burgeoning cybersecurity industry. While Victor s commitment to the university went deep, it was also spectacular on its surface. The concept of deferred maintenance was unacceptable; he insisted on beauty at every turn. In fact, he truly believed, When parents see how well we nurture our fowers, then they will know how dedicated we are to caring for their children. He also brought back the long-retired carillon as a staple of campus charm, installed a 30-foot artifcial Christmas tree in the Mary Garden to heighten holiday spirit, and introduced Hurst Day as an annual tradition devoted to collegial camaraderie. - ’ “ ” ’ Victor is all about traditions and the relationships they engender. It s the stuf of memories, agreed Mercyhurst Student Government President Lucienne Belleau, who said, The relationship President Victor has fostered between himself and the students of Mercyhurst is truly remarkable. His presence is felt throughout all areas of our campus and he has had an immense impact on our campus culture and Mercyhurst traditions that we students are unlikely to forget. “ ” ’ Indeed, Victor s leadership observed the holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual components, creating an environment that would not only engage the mind but nurture the spirit.


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