Mercyhurst Magazine Summer 2015




A message from the president

I taught my frst class at what was then Mercyhurst College in 1985 and have had an unbroken afliation with the institution ever since. This fall that afliation will reach 30 years – a third of the time Mercyhurst has existed. When I started teaching here in 1985, Mercyhurst itself was quite a bit younger than I am now. Many things have changed since then. The 1,300 total students are now nearly 4,000. The 26 graduate students have become 300; the 87 full-time faculty members then compare to more than 200 now. During those 30 years, Mercyhurst North East came into existence, as did “new” signature programs in intelligence studies, forensic science and anthropology/archaeology. Many other academic programs arose as well, some destined to become even “newer” signature programs. Mercyhurst created institutes to connect the life of the mind to the well- being of the community, and, of course, it added many new buildings. I’ve come to think of these individual academic programs, initiatives, buildings and campuses as beautiful beads on a necklace. The beads represent what stands out, individuality, discreteness. Over time the beads may change, some are lost and some are added, but in order to have a necklace, you always need a thread holding the beads together. The thread represents continuity, the background, the connections. Here at Mercyhurst, despite all the growth and development of recent decades, we want to preserve the same necklace that Mother Borgia Egan and her colleagues frst threaded in 1926. Without the thread there would be no coherence, no unity, no continuity. The thread, of course, is our particular mission, with its references to “women and men,”“faith and reason.”“liberal arts and professional preparation,”“the dignity of work” and “striving for a more just world.” It also includes the warm and hospitable style we aspire to manifest as we confront our mission challenges.

This thread is what Mercyhurst’s president is obligated to sustain. It’s no coincidence that all these

commitments derive from the Sisters of Mercy who founded Mercyhurst. Our mission commitments demonstrate the unity of the practical and the sublime, which I fnd is a hallmark of the Sisters of Mercy. I believe it’s precisely what we strive for in our educational eforts. We do not propagandize here at Mercyhurst. Respecting the freedom and individuality of each member of the community is an essential aspect of Mercy hospitality. Nonetheless, I believe that once you spend any extended time on The Hill you realize, even if only implicitly, that integrating the practical and the sublime in oneself, in one’s relationships and in one’s community is what a Mercy education is all about. Here on The Hill we come to realize that an appreciation for the practical respects human dignity every bit as much as does an appreciation for the sublime. The “Walking Nuns” taught us this fundamental lesson when they insisted they would go out into the streets of Dublin and physically care for those who were poor, or sick, or uneducated, and we try to pass the lesson on to our graduates as well. I am confdent that we will continue to do so under my successor with even more elegance and energy than we have yet to see. God bless you all and God bless Mercyhurst University.

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

ON THE COVER: Outgoing President Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D., right, welcomes his successor to campus. Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D., had just been introduced as Mercyhurst’s 12th president when the two stopped in front of the Sister Damien Spirit Bell on campus. (Photo by Jeremy C. Hewitt ‘07)


Magazine Editor Susan Hurley Corbran ’73 (814) 824-2090 Design/Photography Jeremy C. Hewitt ’07 (814) 824-3022 Contributing Writers Colin Hurley ‘13 Susan Hurley Corbran ’73

David Leisering ’01 Deborah W. Morton

Vice President for External Afairs Monsignor David Rubino, Ph.D. (814) 824-3034

What’s inside this issue

Associate Vice President for Advancement Ryan Palm ’07

(800) 845-8568 (814) 824-3320

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Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Tamara Walters (814) 824-3350 Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Lindsay Cox ’12 (814) 824-2330 Class Notes Editor Debra Tarasovitch (814) 824-2392 We’d love to hear from you. Send your story ideas, suggestions and comments to . Send changes of address to: Alumni Relations Mercyhurst University 501 E. 38th St. Erie, PA 16546


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


Evolution of a university A look back through the Gamble administration

The birth of Mercyhurst University in 2012 may have been the high point of Tom Gamble’s tenure at Mercyhurst, but it’s just one of many developments that shaped the university during the 9+ years of his presidency. The following pages capture many of the milestones of the past decade, from new academic programs to new construction, from new outreach to underserved populations to initiatives that improve life in the Erie region. Gamble began his life’s work in the feld of children and youth services. He joined

Mercyhurst as an adjunct instructor in 1985 and soon founded the Mercyhurst Institute for Child and Family Policy, which evolved into the Mercyhurst Civic Institute in 1999. It has grown into a thriving college community partnership dedicated to the social, educational and civic well-being of the Erie region and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

department and to again focus on teaching, research and writing. Mary Gamble’s contributions to the college and community were also recognized. The art collection she has assembled will now be known as the Mary M. Gamble Permanent Art Collection of Mercyhurst University. Valued at more than $1 million, the collection includes pieces contributed following the nine “Friends of Mercyhurst” Art Shows she curated during her husband’s term.


In tribute to his service, the Mercyhurst Board of Trustees voted to rename the organization the Thomas J. Gamble Civic Institute of Mercyhurst University. After a sabbatical, Dr. Gamble plans to return to the psychology


2006 • Dr. Gamble is inaugurated. • Mary Gamble organizes frst of nine annual “Friends of Mercyhurst” Art Shows. • Center for Public Safety organized.

2007 • Mercyhurst debuts in top tier of U.S. News ranking of Best Colleges as a “master’s university.” • Mercyhurst buys and renovates First National Bank building in North East.

2008 • AIM - the Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst – welcomes students on the autism spectrum. • Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society established. • Mercyhurst adds vice president for mission integration to president’s cabinet. • Mercyhurst Civic Institute launches new project aimed at reducing poverty in Erie County.

Austism/Asperger Initiative At Mercyhurst


• Mercyhurst North East ofers its frst bachelor’s degree– an R.N. to B.S.N. completion program. • Mercyhurst dedicates Janet L. Miller Center for Growth and Excellence in North East. • Freshmen move into new Frances Warde Hall. • Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies formed. • Mercyhurst unveils Hirtzel Human Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology Laboratory at North East. • Mercyhurst launches largest capital campaign in its history with a 10-year goal of $50 million. (It’s already nearing completion.) 2009


• First Mercyhurst students spend term studying in Dungarvan, Ireland. • Fifteen students enroll in new urban education program at Erie’s Booker T. Washington Center. • Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP) begins public opinion polling. 2010

• Mercyhurst hosts women’s hockey Frozen Four. • Mercyhurst launches new public health initiative. • Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture (MIAC) formed to enhance arts programming. 2011


2012 • Mercyhurst College becomes Mercyhurst University. • Mercyhurst opens international center in Dungarvan, Ireland. • Mercyhurst launches Carpe Diem Academy for K-2 students in inner-city schools. • Mercyhurst opens $10.5 million Center for Academic Engagement to house intelligence studies, hospitality management. • Mercyhurst starts frst doctoral program – in anthropology. • Mary Garden created in front of Old Main.

2013 • Mercyhurst creates School of Health Professions and Public Health. • Mercyhurst transitions from trimesters to 4-1-4 academic calendar. • Core curriculum updated. • Thomas J. and Michele Ridge Collection opens in Hammermill Library. • Bob Miller donates nine-acre estate to be developed as home for culinary and hospitality programs at North East.

2014 • Gamble joins area college presidents to write “The Path Forward” on how Erie’s higher education assets can help improve region’s future. • Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies and Information Science created. • Mercyhurst opens Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in honor of Sister Joan Chittister, OSB. • ‘Hurst enrolls largest international class ever and launches English as a Second Language program. • Dance Department ofers new Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree.

2015 • Christ the King Chapel refurbished. • DNA lab dedicated. • Master’s program in data science established. • Master’s program in physician assistant studies enrolls frst class. • Fiscal year 2015 sees largest fundraising total ($6.3 million) and signifcant gains in the Annual Fund.


The Victor family at the announcement of his appointment: Son-in-law Colin Russ; daughter Courtney Victor Russ; President Michael Victor and his wife, Craige Pepper Victor, holding granddaughter Reagan Russ; son Wade Root; and daughter Sloane Victor. Michael Victor named Mercyhurst’s 12 th president

Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D., takes ofce as Mercyhurst University’s 12th president in August. While his vision for the school will unfold over the coming months and years, he wasted no time taking his frst action. At the May 22 news conference announcing his appointment, he told the community he had secured a donor to replace the carillon in the O’Neil Tower. Out of commission for the last couple of years, the bells are again ringing out the hours this summer. The Mercyhurst Alma Mater plays each afternoon at 2. The gesture makes clear both Victor’s appreciation for Mercyhurst history and tradition and his expectation for rebirth and renewal going forward. Victor, who served as dean of Mercyhurst’s Walker School of Business from 2002 to 2006, has been president of Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, for the past nine years. Throughout his tenure there, he maintained his family home in Erie, where he is widely respected as a civic and business leader, attorney, entrepreneur and fundraiser.

- “This is an amazing leadership opportunity at this stage of my career as well as a chance to come home to an institution and city I love,” said Victor. “I am deeply honored to be named the 12th president of Mercyhurst University and am excited to engage the entire Mercyhurst community in creating a future that sustains the university's distinct mission in an ever changing higher education environment.” While at Lake Erie College, Victor doubled enrollment, raised more than $40 million for the institution, and launched 12 new academic programs, including a master of physician assistant studies in partnership with University Hospitals and an MBA graduate program. In addition, he grew the athletics program from 11 to 19 varsity sports, including a new football team, and made the transition from NCAA Division III to Division II. He says he used strategies at Lake Erie that he’d already seen succeed at Mercyhurst, especially the creation of niche academic programs and the expansion of athletics.

Victor, a summa cum laude graduate of St. Vincent College, earned his juris doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law. He is the former CEO of Pyramid Industries, and began his professional career as an attorney in the corporate law department of MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton in Erie. He is married to Jean Craige Pepper, who is frst vice president and senior fnancial adviser at RBC Wealth Management and serves on the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. She and three of their four grown children (and one granddaughter) were on hand for the announcement of his return to Mercyhurst.


- Mercyhurst cut the ribbon Feb. 18 on a new state of-the-art DNA sequencing center designed to educate students and the public on the mysteries of biotechnology, genetic engineering and advances in DNA. The half-million-dollar science lab – the Orris C. Hirtzel and Beatrice Dewey Hirtzel DNA Sequencing Center on the frst foor of Zurn Hall – will ofer valuable hands-on learning experiences for Mercyhurst science students. Here are just a few ways Mercyhurst students expect to use the new equipment: • Mercyhurst faculty and student researchers have captured hundreds of deer ticks from Presque Isle State Park and will use DNA testing to identify what percentage of the ticks carry Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause signifcant health problems in humans if left untreated. The goal, according to Sara Turner, Ph.D., is to consider mitigation strategies to help protect the estimated four million local residents and tourists who visit the park each year. • Mercyhurst opens new DNA sequencing lab By Deborah W. Morton - Researchers in the public health department plan to study Erie County soils for the presence of the disease causing parasite Toxoplasma gondii . Thomas B. Cook, Ph.D., said. “We are determining if the parasite is present in soils in and around Erie County and, if so, are there ways to prevent its spread into places of frequent human exposure (children’s playgrounds, beaches, etc.).” • A project led by Michael Foulk, Ph.D., will use DNA sequencing to monitor water quality in waterways around Erie County, including Lake Erie. Foulk and his students will collect water samples, sequence the genomes of all of the organisms in the samples, then identify and quantify the microorganisms present. Foulk will also study the DNA amplifcation in the fungus fy, Sciara coprophila , which may have applications in cancer research. • In forensic science, DNA sequencing is used to analyze evidence from a crime scene to provide a defnitive DNA fngerprint of a potential suspect. Mercyhurst’s center was built with the capability to function as a crime lab, and seeking certifcation is a future consideration. For now, forensics students will have the opportunity to work directly with equipment that they would expect to see in a professional capacity after they graduate. The lab will aford them “a great hands-on experience and an important addition to their résumé,” said Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D. In addition, the center is the impetus for a new major launching at Mercyhurst this fall – bioinformatics. By merging biology, computer science and information technology, bioinformatics combines mathematics and computers to gain a better understanding of biological processes and interpret genomic data. Plans for Mercyhurst’s new DNA lab began in 2013 when the university purchased an Illumina MiSeq DNA sequencing machine courtesy of a $125,000 grant from the George I. Alden Trust. More recently, Mercyhurst collaborated with the Lake Erie Research Institute in securing two additional grants: $150,000 from The Orris C. Hirtzel and Beatrice Dewey Hirtzel Memorial Foundation for an ABI DNA sequencer, and $10,000 from the Black Family Foundation through the Erie Community Foundation for additional supplies.

Orris C. Hirtzel & Beatrice Dewey Hirtzel DNA Sequencing Center


The greatest mathematician no one ever knew By Susan Hurley Corbran ‘73 Noted mathematician Herb Wilf gave that title to Sister M. Celine Fasenmyer, the humble woman who spent 73 years of her life as a Sister of Mercy and more than 34 years teaching students at Mercyhurst College. Wilf, who died in 2012, was in a good position to know. The prize-winning WZ theory he helped create grew directly out of Sister Celine’s research. And, 70 years after she wrote her doctoral thesis, other researchers are still building on her ideas.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania’s oil country, Mary Fasenmyer entered the Mercy order during her senior year in high school in 1923. She taught in parochial schools around the diocese for the next 10 years, while taking evening, weekend and summer classes until she earned a

Mother Borgia Egan – a master at grooming talented young sisters for the Mercyhurst faculty – sent Sr. Celine to the University of Pittsburgh to get her master’s and then to the University of Michigan to pursue a Ph.D. (A Mercy hospital within walking distance of the university housed sisters from all over the country while they took classes there.) She spent three years at Michigan, working with mentor Earl Rainville, Ph.D. She became interested in special functions, completed her thesis titled “Some Generalized Hypergeometric Polynomials,” earned her doctorate in 1945, and published two academic papers. Then she returned to Erie to run Mercyhurst’s math department. “My whole aim in getting my doctor’s degree was for our college,” she told Wilf. “I didn’t want to do more research, except what would help me be a better teacher.”

Her work might have languished on a library shelf forever were it not for Rainville. Fifteen years later, in 1960, he credited Sr. Celine’s work in his own book on special functions. But the full impact of Sr. Celine’s work wouldn’t be revealed until a couple more decades had passed. Wilf, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Doron Zeilberger, then at Temple University, discovered the obscure paper and built on it. Together they developed “WZ theory,” which used computers to prove many combinatorial identities. Their landmark 1996 book A=B devoted two chapters to Sr. Celine’s polynomials. WZ Theory earned the prestigious Leroy P. Steele Prize from the American Mathematical Society in 1998.

degree in mathematics at Mercyhurst. Looking back, she traced her love of

mathematics to a single high school math class. The teacher usually told the class to take a theorem and memorize it. But a substitute teacher, unfamiliar with the day’s lesson, instead suggested “Now, let’s think this through.” “From that moment on I never memorized any mathematics,” Sr. Celine told Wilf during a visit in 1993. Once she began teaching, she didn’t expect her students to memorize either. “I try to get them to think. It isn’t memorizing; it’s thinking and using the concepts.”


’ Illustration from Sr. Celine s 1945 doctoral dissertation, “Some Generalized Hypergeometric Polynomials ”

- Before Sister Celine, there was no pattern or algorithm to tackle such proofs. “She was the frst person to devise an algorithm or a list of steps that would work for all similar proofs,”Yen said. At that time, the proof wasn’t difcult, but it still required very time consuming calculations. “We didn’t realize the power of her method until the ‘80s when Wilf and Zeilberger found her paper and started testing it with a computer,”Yen said. “When you put my research on ‘Generalized Hypergeometric Polynomials’ in a computer, marvelous things come out,” Sr. Celine refected later. Ironically, she didn’t much like computers. “I stay away from computers,” she told oral historian Larie Pintea. “Mechanical things don’t interest me.” The Celine Solution Dr. Lily Yen was a graduate student when she accompanied Wilf to Erie to meet Sr. Celine. Now a faculty member at Canada’s Capilano University and a researcher at Simon Frazier University, she says she and other researchers are still exploring and developing Sr. Celine’s ideas. She tried to put “The Celine Solution” into laymen’s terms. Mathematicians, she explains, have always had to prove very difcult identities – that the left side of an equation equals the right side, or, as Wilf and Zeilberger titled their book, A=B .

- Long-overdue recognition When Wilf visited the Mercy Motherhouse in 1993, he invited the 87-year old Sr. Celine to be his guest at the 25th anniversary meeting of the International Conference of Mathematics Researchers the next year. Wilf’s topic was “Computers Prove Identities: A 50-Year Study,” and he introduced the woman who started it all to 500 researchers from 15 countries. He described the moment later: “She said, casting a level gaze at the assemblage of distinguished mathematicians, ‘I want you all to know – I really did that work.’There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.” After her death in 1996, Zeilberger also paid tribute to the woman he calls one of his great heroes. “Sister Celine Fasenmyer was an obscure college professor, who did not publish anything beyond her thesis work, and of course never had any Ph.D. students.” Zeilberger called her “grossly under-rated” and added “Sister Celine’s greatness only started to emerge with the WZ theory … I am sure that the future will prove her even greater.” In his foreword to A=B (published in 1996), Donald Knuth wrote, “Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do. During the past several years an important part of mathematics has been transformed from an Art to a Science: No longer do we need to get a brilliant insight in order to evaluate sums of binomial coefcients, and many similar formulas that arise frequently in practice; we can now follow a mechanical procedure and discover the answers quite systematically.” And that procedure owes its origins to Sr. Celine Fasenmyer.


We are... Ambassadors of Service By Colin Hurley ‘13 Each year, a few Mercyhurst graduates take a leap of faith and plunge into a year or more of intense service to the community and world. They detour from their paths toward lucrative careers, instead choosing to live in intentional poverty and marginalization – but they often fnd incredible gems of wisdom and personal transformation along the way. It’s a natural choice for some graduates, who have immersed themselves in Mercyhurst’s mission of service to others throughout their years on campus. Encouraged by faculty members as well as by the service-learning program (which marked its 20th anniversary last year), they feel called to explore their gifts and passions further while helping to improve our world. Graduates can choose from hundreds of full-time service programs that have developed since the 1960s, including the Peace Corps, VISTA and many faith-based volunteer corps. A few recent (and soon-to-be) ‘Hurst alumni were willing to share the stories of their adventures as “Ambassadors of Service.”

“I think that the call from the Sisters of Mercy to act for social justice is one that I will always carry with me.” – Zach Pekor ‘09 Karl Gustafson ‘13 Karl Gustafson, who earned his master’s degree in applied intelligence in 2013, chose the Peace Corps after deciding that life behind a corporate desk wasn’t right for him. He spent two years in China, teaching university oral English classes in the region outside Chengdu, where he impacted his students in many ways. He secured grants to build an English language library, and participated with his students in the International World Map Project. Started in 1988 by an earlier Peace Corps volunteer, the project encourages interest in geography by helping students paint brightly colored world maps directly on classroom walls. He also works closely with the university radio station and has been interviewed many times about American cultural topics. Karl started an American flm club that screens movies outdoors, choosing lesser-known flms that accurately portray American life. He enjoys the freedom he has in his classroom, adding, “I don’t know if I’ll ever have this much control over my own work ever again.” His intel training does come in handy, as he attacks problems more deliberately now and builds his lectures as he once constructed presentations for briefngs. “Also I think Mercyhurst made me more durable,” he says. “Nothing gets to me now.” Karl fnished his Peace Corps assignment at the end of June and headed of for a solo trek through Southeast Asia before returning to America.

Lisa Sirois ‘14 History major Lisa Sirois joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after her 2014 graduation. She worked as an outreach caseworker with Christian Senior Service - Meals on Wheels in San Antonio, Texas, and lived in a community of six volunteers who worked at nonprofts throughout the city. “Together we encouraged each other to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zones by exploring the four values of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC): simple living, social justice, community and spirituality,” she says. Lisa says her JVC experience allowed her to continue the growth that started at Mercyhurst. “Without the experiences and relationships I formed at Mercyhurst, I would not have found the understanding and passion for human dignity in all persons that I have today. JVC gives me the opportunity to serve and be in communion with those individuals who have been cast out by society and who deserve to be valued regardless of life circumstance.” She says her year with JVC – besides allowing her to serve others – provided an opportunity to solidify her career goals and to refect on where she has been and where she is going. She’ll continue her service journey next year with JVC Northwest, working with homeless and underserved populations at the Poverello Center in Missoula, Montana.


Zach Pekor ‘09 “After graduating from Mercyhurst, I wanted to take what I learned and apply it to the real world and really give back to those who might not have the same resources and opportunities that I did,” says Zach Pekor. A 2009 graduate in environmental intelligence studies, he joined the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), an AmeriCorps program. He worked primarily in Louisiana and Mississippi, where he and his team built two houses. He also worked as a teacher's assistant in a Title I school in St. Tammany Parish outside New Orleans. The experience transformed him, he says. “I learned so much about myself, how I view larger social issues and how I interact with others, that I can honestly say I am not the same person as when I frst started my year of service.” Once certain he wanted to earn a Ph.D. and teach at a university, he changed course after his NCCC year. Now he wants to ensure that more underrepresented students have the opportunity to go to college. Today he’s a project director for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, working with a Baltimore City school to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. He runs an after- school STEM program for 1st-4th graders and writes grants for other STEM education projects.

Patrick Scherer ‘11 From his frst overseas trip with Chinese professor Dr. Daliang Wang, international business major Patrick Scherer knew he wanted to live and work abroad. He chose a two-year assignment with the Peace Corps because it would allow him to use his skills to impact the lives of others. He worked with Lyamujungu (Liya-moo-JUNE-goo) Cooperative Financial Services Limited, a large savings and credit cooperative in rural Kabale, Uganda. He wrote a grant application that earned $200,000 to establish an agricultural cooperative for more than 10,000 cofee farmers. Co-op members can now borrow needed funds using their harvests as collateral. And, by pooling their harvests, they can increase their bargaining power and share the risks and expenses of packaging and storing their harvests. Patrick also directed a youth camp called Camp BUILD (Boys of Uganda In Leadership and Development) & GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). The camp educated more than 200 young men and women in entrepreneurship, confict resolution, leadership, HIV/ AIDS prevention and testing, malaria prevention, and life skills. He calls his service in Uganda the most challenging and eye-opening experience of his life. “For the frst time in my life, I was looked to for answers and I had to provide them because my coworkers and village depended on me,” he refects. “I think I will be able to draw upon those experiences when faced with any type of challenge in my life going forward to help me really see the big picture and put things into perspective and to not sweat the small stuf." Patrick stays in touch with fellow students and professors from his time at Mercyhurst. “It’s nice knowing that I can go halfway around the world and I can still count on them for guidance and support. I think that's what makes Mercyhurst unique: it really is a family.” He’s now pursuing an MBA with a concentration in marketing and data analytics at Wake Forest University. He hopes to remain in Charlotte as a brand manager and to one day travel and work overseas again.

“Mercyhurst helped foster an environment in which service in all forms was celebrated and encouraged.” – Lisa Sirois ‘14


“While I couldn’t recite the core values of the top of my head, the message from them still resonates and I defnitely carry with me the idea that we are ambassadors of service.” – Alicia Cagle ‘13

Alumni Jef Cagle ‘07 (far left) and Colleen Lanigan-Hordych ‘07 (next to him) with fellow team members

Jef Cagle ‘07 Jef Cagle says he’s always had a personal passion to make the world a better place. And he credits Mercy sisters Michele Schroeck and Geri Rosinski for showing him that he didn’t need to rush through life for the sake of success, that he could spend a year positively afecting the world and still one day return to his studies. Assigned to work in Nashville, one of his duties was teaching a GED math class to students who had been out of school for years. He recalls, “They had to learn their multiplication tables, pretty standard stuf that I have taken for granted since learning it in 3rd grade. We started simple: anything times zero is zero, any number times one is that original number. Then, we skipped to 9. My students FLIPPED! I wrote all the multiples of 9 in the table on the chalkboard and then I told them to look reallllllllly close at the numbers “I asked them a simple question: when you multiply any number 1-9 by 9, what can you do to check that your answer is right? I sat back and just had them look at their tables…and slowly….very slowly….the lights started to pop on in a few brains…until Nancy blurted out: if you add the numbers they equal 9. BOOM! 9x6=54…add 5 and 4 and you get 9!!! They went absolutely CRAAAAAAZY with excitement! They couldn’t believe it! Honestly, it was one of the coolest moments ever!” After an AmeriCorps VISTA year (2007-2008) working on an anti-bullying campaign with PENNCREST School District, Jef earned a Master of Theological Studies degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and then opted for a second year of service as an AmeriCorps State Volunteer, working with inner-city youth and adults in Nashville. Then, coming full circle, he came back to Pennsylvania and taught at Mercyhurst as an adjunct professor. Jef recently moved to Washington, D.C., with his fancée, Jennifer, and is again teaching GED classes, this time at Sasha Bruce Youthwork. He hopes to start work on a doctorate soon. “I realize just how lucky I was to go to a school like Mercyhurst that values the liberal arts tradition and taught me the value of social justice,” he says. “I really appreciate all the service learning opportunities I had when I was a student and hope that students at Mercyhurst today also value the ability to serve the Erie community.”

Nicole Zeak ‘12 For Nicole Zeak, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh was a natural choice when she decided to devote a year to service. When she was growing up, her father was the construction foreman for the organization, and her older sister did a graduate internship there. As a National Direct Service member with AmeriCorps, she worked in community relations for the nonproft, both working directly with families and fostering community relationships to support Habitat’s mission. She dedicated three new homes for deserving Pittsburgh families, worked on countless home repair projects, and even traveled to Wisconsin to help with a build. “I also got to work alongside Andrew McCutcheon, Pittsburgh Habitat’s spokesperson, so that wasn’t too bad either!” she says. Nicole, a social work major, says she gained a year of memorable and quality experience, while also learning a lot about herself and the service industry in Pittsburgh. Flash forward two years and she’s now the family assistance coordinator at South Hills Interfaith Ministries, running basic needs programs that serve more than 400 families each month, including two large food pantries, a clothing room and utility assistance. “Serving that year with AmeriCorps truly changed my life and helped me start my career.”


Michelle Ahrens ‘16 & Sarah Anderson ‘15 Michelle Ahrens and Sarah Anderson got a head start on the year of service experience while they were still undergraduates. The two left campus life behind and moved right into the House of Mercy, living and working with Sister Michele Schroeck, RSM. Established in 2002, the House of Mercy on Erie’s eastside is modeled after Catherine McAuley’s original House of Mercy in Dublin. The two remained full-time students, but lived at the residence at a reduced rent and averaged 10 hours of service a week. They primarily interacted with neighborhood children, helping with homework after school and engaging in evening activities like crafts, games, holiday baking and environmental projects. Michelle, a senior social work/religious studies major from Erie, says the year was an opportunity to break free from the "bubble" many college students fnd themselves living in. “The constant contact with the neighborhood's children and families caused me to remain grounded in the fact that, while academics are important, there is so much more to this world, both negative and hopeful,” she says. Sarah, who graduated this year with a religious studies major and a Catholic studies minor, adds that she particularly enjoyed learning how the neighborhood’s refugee families have adapted to life in the United States, and says she learned a great deal about their cultures, religions and practices. The year proved so rewarding that Sarah has opted for another year of service post-graduation as a Mercy Volunteer Corps member serving at St. Peter’s Adult Learning Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Eventually she hopes to work with children and teach them about the Catholic faith. Michelle is moving back home and commuting to campus for her senior year. She says she sees herself eventually in the social work feld, working with children in some capacity – or maybe living in a log cabin on top of a mountain where she’ll sit and knit by the fre with her pet St. Bernard! “I carry the Mercy Mission, plain and simple. It is what inspires me and what I aspire to in my life.” – Jef Cagle ‘07

Alicia Cagle ‘13 (right)

Alicia Cagle ‘13 Communication major Alicia Cagle chose to serve with AmeriCorps – just as her brother Jef ’07 had done earlier. She was placed at Higher Achievement Richmond. Though she was involved in many projects, she is most proud of her work with the 7th and 8th grade scholars and the development of Higher Achievement Richmond’s High School Placement program. She planned and ran the Green Apple Awards graduation ceremony for all the 8th graders, guided scholars and their families through the high school admissions process, and made sure all students knew the opportunities available to them that best ft their goals. “Nothing is more rewarding to me than the impact I had on the scholars and the impact they had on me,” she says. “The scholars would greet me with hugs, ask me for help on homework, come to me for advice for any middle school problems, and knew that, overall, I would be there for them.” Besides hands-on experience with volunteer management, event planning, social media, capacity building, etc., she absorbed the Higher Achievement culture – celebrating coworkers for their accomplishments, collaboration, striving for excellence – and sees it crossing over into other jobs. Since wrapping up her AmeriCorps assignment, Alicia has started a master’s program at George Mason University in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, including a summer study abroad experience in Jordan.


Wheaton ofers jump-start for new Erie businesses By Deborah W. Morton It started as wishful thinking: could Kris Wheaton achieve the same success for others that he had for himself in the world of crowdfunding and, more importantly, could he sustain it? In a word: Yes! Wheaton is an associate professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst who, although born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in the South, is one of Erie, Pennsylvania’s, biggest cheerleaders. Through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, he sees the potential to transform the Great Lakes city into an “idea hub” by taking local entrepreneurial projects to the next level and, in some cases, morphing them into full-fedged businesses. To date, he has managed successful Kickstarter campaigns for seven out of eight projects, and he has 13 more waiting in the wings. This, he says, is just the beginning. Wheaton is a key player in the new Ignite Erie: Industry-University Business Acceleration Collaborative, led by Mercyhurst University and Penn State Behrend with a $750,000 grant from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority. The collaborative is part of ECGRA’s three-part, $3.9 million initiative to catalyze small business development and strengthen the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Ridge School Dean Dr. Jim Breckenridge representing Mercyhurst at the IgniteErie press conference at Penn State Behrend on April 1, 2015.

Wheaton is all-in. A little over two years ago, Wheaton decided to go the route of Kickstarter, the world’s most popular crowdfunding engine, to fnance production of a game he had invented called “Widget.” He had 30 days to reach his goal of $4,000 or, according to Kickstarter terms, forfeit it all. He raised $6,575 from 193 backers, raising 164 percent of his goal. “Cthulhu vs. The Vikings” was the next game he sought production funds for via Kickstarter. Seeking $9,500, he once again surpassed his goal, raising $12,877 from 185 backers. He seemed to be on to something. So, he ventured forth again, this time to raise money for three of Mercyhurst’s liturgical dancers to travel to Jerusalem to perform. He mentored a team of Mercyhurst students with skills in intelligence studies, graphic design, writing and social media to do much of the work. To Wheaton’s delight, they, too, met with success. “Yes, I want to help Erie; yes, I want to support entrepreneurship; but I am equally if not more focused on getting our students real experience doing the things they came to Mercyhurst to learn to do,” he said.

Most people make rookie mistakes, he said. They include videos that are too long or unprofessional, copy that isn't clever and rewards that don’t incentivize. Wheaton’s formula for success had bypassed those mistakes and added a Facebook campaign before each project launch to create awareness and build a following of backers that would later translate into dollars on Kickstarter. Wheaton called his strategy “Quickstarter.” To date, grants from Mercyhurst University and Ben Franklin Technology Partners have supported Wheaton’s Quickstarter initiative. The new ECGRA collaborative will build on that momentum, and will engage students from other universities in the process. For Wheaton, it’s not only about creating fnancial opportunities for Erie people and keeping the money in Erie, it’s about changing the mindset of the entire region. “All of a sudden people start to notice and Erie becomes the place to come with your idea,” he said. If anybody can be this kind of change-agent, it’s Kris Wheaton, adds colleague Brad Gleason, director of the Center for Intelligence Research Analysis and Training at Mercyhurst. “He’s able to stir passion and inspire it,” Gleason said. “If something interests him, he’ll roll up his sleeves and jump in - 100 percent committed. Truth be told, I don’t think he sleeps.”

On deck were local residents Liz and Michael Augustine with an ambitious project. They wanted help from Wheaton to open their own restaurant, Like My Thai, in downtown Erie. In just 15 days on Kickstarter, the Augustines raised nearly $14,000, surpassing their modest $4,000 goal by $10,000. The restaurant is now doing business at 827 State St. “When Kris speaks, you listen very, very carefully. You don’t want to miss a thing,” said Michael Augustine. “His advice is invaluable. I don’t think I would have done this without him.” Wheaton and his students also completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund a local cofee business called Roast Assured, which received a coveted “Staf Pick” award from Kickstarter. Only 5 percent of all Kickstarter projects are chosen as staf picks, Wheaton said. He credited students Hannah Corton for her management of the campaign and Brent Clapper for the promotional video he produced. Oddly enough, Wheaton saw his success wasn’t being replicated Erie-wide. In fact, compared to other cities of its size, Erie had a disproportionately low success rate of 33 percent on Kickstarter. Perplexed, he did what any good intelligence analyst would do: he analyzed. He studied Kickstarter projects, particularly the failures, and saw a pattern.

Michael & Elisabeth Augustine


Marcia Federici ‘72 helping Mercyhurst student Meaghan Kinkaid. Coming back to pay it forward By Susan Hurley Corbran ‘73

Marcia Federici ’72 believes students today have a hunger to experience what the real world is like, and says she’s in a unique position to help satisfy that hunger. Now retired after a successful career in biotechnology, she spent January back at Mercyhurst, shepherding 17 students through a J-term course she developed on Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Development. J-term, now two years old, allows students to focus exclusively on one course for three weeks. Her students got a peek into the biotechnology industry and a taste of what it’s like to work on a research-and-development team as it tries to bring a new drug to human clinical trials. Why did she do it? “I have the time now that I’m no longer working full time,” she says, “and I have a real passion for teaching and giving back to students.”


- Groundbreaking research Perhaps she’s channeling Sister Mary Charles Weschler and Dr. Cliford Cox, the Mercyhurst chemistry professors who became her mentors and were ultimately responsible for her scientifc career. They let her – and classmate Kathy Blieszner – work on original research in their laboratories. That’s not unusual now, but it was groundbreaking in the early ‘70s, and it motivated both of them to head to grad school. As Marcia explains, “I didn’t want to just run experiments – I wanted to design them!” After graduating in 1972, Marcia went directly into a Ph.D. program in biochemistry at West Virginia University. She did a three year postdoctoral fellowship with the National Institutes of Health, and then moved into industry and the emerging feld of biotechnology. Over the next 25 years, she worked for half a dozen companies that make biopharmaceuticals, medicinal products that come from biological sources. Over the course of her career, working for companies like Genentech and GlaxoSmithKline, she managed product development, quality control and manufacturing teams. She worked extensively with the FDA to gain approval to market new drugs, and she even helped develop international guidelines for the introduction of biotech products. Marcia worked on many drugs that are now used to treat various forms of cancer, growth defciencies and stroke. One of the drugs she worked on (Activase®) has had great success treating patients immediately after stroke symptoms begin.

Mentoring the next generation Marcia left the corporate world in 2006, retiring as vice president of a biopharmaceutical manufacturing operations group at GlaxoSmithKline. She continued to consult with biotech frms for several years, but most recently has devoted herself to teaching and mentoring the next generation of young scientists at a variety of universities. Marcia refects on her Mercyhurst experience. “Mercyhurst taught me to be a strong woman in science when not a lot of women were entering the science feld. It encouraged me to have my own ideas and speak my mind. I saw a lot of wonderful role models here, like my cousin Sister Marcia McDonald. Sister Marcia is an accomplished Mercy nun and was in charge of admissions at Mercyhurst College for many years. “I’m a scientist today because of three people – Sr. Charles, Dr. Cox, and Sr. Maura Smith, who taught me biology in high school,” Marcia says. “It’s that mentoring – that’s why I’m here to give back to the next generation of scientists. “I hope to spark an excitement about science in my students. …All it takes is one good teacher to spark an interest that will last a lifetime.” What’s her advice to those students? “I tell them to fnd their passion and follow their heart,” she says simply. “There’s no way to look down the road of your career and know what’s going to happen. When I was in grad school, there was no such thing as a biotechnology industry. You have to be fexible and ready to reinvent yourself – and if you are lucky you get to do what excites you.”

’ The family s Chrstmas portrait from 2014 includes Carey Sentman (son Paul’s girlfriend), Marcia, husband Tom Jamrogowicz (holding Pepper); and son Paul Jamrogowicz. Family ties

In 1990, Marcia traveled to Peru to adopt her son, Paul, who’s now 25. She was single, and it was pretty unusual to adopt alone then. “Adopting a baby and having my son was the best single decision I’ve ever made in my life.”Ten years later, she met and married Tom Jamrogowicz, a fellow

chemist at GlaxoSmithKline, and they formed a new family. Marcia and Tom now live in the Philadelphia area, where Paul graduated from Drexel University and is pursuing a career in photography and welding. Marcia has also stayed close to the friends she made at Mercyhurst. “They have been with me my entire life. We’ve seen each other through the ups and downs of careers and families. I have a group of women friends I cherish tremendously. They’re like sisters to me – sisters of my heart.”Tom, Paul and his girlfriend Carey, Marcia’s brothers and sisters and many of those friends were on hand at Reunion Weekend in 2014 when Marcia received a Distinguished Alumni Award for contributions to her chosen feld.


Standing are Craig Woodard ‘96, John Melody ‘90 and James Sherrod ‘85. Seated are Julie McChesney Stiles ‘95, Tracy Cross Hoza ‘96, and Claire Scanlan ‘96. Six inducted into Hall of Fame Tracy Cross Hoza ‘96 WOMEN’S SOCCER Claire Scanlan ‘96 WOMEN’S SOCCER

executive director of the Martin Luther King Center in Erie. Craig Woodard ‘96 FOOTBALL Craig played football for head coaches Jim Chapman and Joe Kimball from 1992 to 1995. He was the frst player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, fnishing with 1,166 in 1992, and held the single season rushing record until 2007. He is second all-time in rushing yards (2,315), a record he held until 2008. During his stellar career, Woodard had nine 100- yard games with a career best of 222 against Canisius in 1992. He is one of fve players in program history to rush for at least 200 yards in a game and still holds the record for the longest run from scrimmage, a 94-yard TD against Canisius. Woodard held the single- season record for most rushing yards per game and most rushing yards per game by a freshman (116.6 in 1992) until both were surpassed in 2012. He had four straight 100-yard games in 1992 and is currently ffth all-time in all-purpose yards with 2,940. Following graduation, Woodard worked fve years as a sportscaster for Erie television station WICU before shifting to the fnancial services industry.

the team in rebounding during the team’s NCAA years of 1994 and 1995. Mercyhurst went 72-36 during her career, the most successful four-year

Tracy played from 1991 to 1995 for head coaches Trevor Warren and Rich Hartis. She missed the 1993 season due to injury. Mercyhurst went a combined 55-12-2 during her playing career. She was a member of three NCAA- qualifying teams, including Division II Final Four teams in both 1994 and 1995. Cross was named All-Region three times and was an All-America selection twice – Second Team in 1994 and First Team a year later. She also played for the Irish National Team. Julie McChesney Stiles ‘95 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL Julie played for head coaches Paul Demyanovich and Jim Webb from 1991 to 1995 and was part of the frst two women’s basketball teams to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. In 1995, Mercyhurst reached the Elite 8 in Fargo, North Dakota, before bowing to Stonehill, 80-78. McChesney averaged 17 points and 8.8 rebounds in fve NCAA Tournament games and posted two double-doubles. She is third all- time in scoring (1,486) and rebounding (799), second in blocked shots (136), ffth in free throws made (326), and sixth in scoring average (14.7). She led

Claire played soccer from 1992 to1995 for head coaches Trevor Warren and Rich Hartis. Her teams went a combined 53-11-2 in her career. She was an All- American twice - Second Team in 1994 and First Team in 1995. Scanlan led Mercyhurst in scoring three times and was chosen GLIAC Ofensive Player of the Year as a senior. She was a four-time All-Region selection and is ffth all-time in both goals (58) and points (145). She is tied for fourth all-time in assists with 29. Scanlan also was a member of the Irish National Team. James Sherrod ‘85 FOOTBALL James played football from 1981 to 1984 and was a member of the frst football team under head coach Tony DeMeo. Although the program has been in existence for 34 years, Sherrod is still tied for 6th in tackles-for-a-loss (36 in just 34 career games), 12th all- time in sacks (14), and 21st in tackles with 221 (72 solo, 149 assisted). Sherrod had 17 tackles-for-a-loss in 1984, tied for ffth-most in a single season. He also had nine sacks in 1984, a number that is currently tied for seventh-most in a single campaign. Sherrod is the

run in program history. John Melody ‘90

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S SOCCER COACH John was a two-sport (soccer, golf) athlete at Mercyhurst in the late ‘80s before making his mark as men’s and women’s soccer coach from 1997 to 2001. His men’s teams had an overall record of 70-21-4 in fve years and a perfect 27-0 record in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play. The men recorded fve GLIAC titles and reached the NCAA Playofs in 1998, 2000 and 2001. The men reached the Final Four in 1998. The women fnished his fve-year tenure with an overall 72-19-6 record and were 37-4-3 in the GLIAC. The ladies made the NCAAs in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Melody was named GLIAC Men’s Coach of the Year three times and GLIAC Women’s Coach of the Year twice. He was twice chosen both Men’s and Women’s Regional Coach of the Year during his fve years at the helm. Melody is currently an Erie businessman.


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