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)


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