Mercyhurst’s Irish trailblazers P. 12 Inside this issue: PRESIDENT VICTOR’S VISION FOR THE FUTURE P. 3 NORTH EAST CAMPUS CELEBRATES 25 YEARS P. 6 MASCOTS: FROM CRAZY DAVE TO LUKE THE LAKER P. 10 ALUMNI HONORED DURING REUNION WEEKEND P. 20 GENEROUS DONORS MAKE 2015-16 A RECORD YEAR P. 30
A message from the president As anyone who drives through our Gates knows, the campus of Mercyhurst University is a landscape that can hold you in awe. And while Mercyhurst at its core is its people – the Sisters of Mercy, our students and alumni, our friends and donors, our faculty and staf – it never hurts to be surrounded by beauty. learn more about the Mercy mission and
the tenets of Catholic higher education. The program is expected to continue and grow each year and also to be infused in our freshman curriculum.
When I assumed the presidency last August, I felt something missing in the sights and sounds that distinguish our campus. The carillon that rang out the hours with Westminster Chimes had fallen silent. It was a tradition that added character and warmth to our beautiful campus and, so, in my frst ofcial act as president, we restored it. I must say that was the easiest thing we did all year! The challenges faced by the university in recent years had taken a toll on our community. We needed to restore our collective spirit while making some tough calls.
In concert with living the mission, I also want to say how important I believe it is that we live and work in an environment where mercy, collegiality and good old- fashioned college spirit reign in abundance. Besides restoring the carillon, we began Hurst Day, where the entire college community comes together for a day of socialization amid games, contests and great food. We gave out deli trays to departments and ofces in thanks for their hard work. We began an Employee Recognition Day to honor employees for their commitment, beginning with fve years of service and up. I am so proud of who we are and where we are going, but I am also humbled by the incredible support I’ve received from everyone during my inaugural year. You’ve sent me cards, emails and all kinds of encouraging greetings. I can’t thank you enough for your hospitality.
There were those who said: It can’t be done!
You can’t streamline the administrative and academic operations in a year! You can’t reconstruct a whole liberal arts curriculum in a year! You can’t change the academic calendar in a year! You can’t bring in a record freshman class with only a year’s preparation! And you certainly can’t raise millions of dollars in a year!
And yet, we did it. We did it with transparency, buy-in and mercy.
The changes have made us a much more nimble university and positioned us to better meet the needs of our students. As much as we now look forward to a promising future, we must never forget our past and the traditions that have made Mercyhurst great. The legacy of the Sisters needs to be sustained, especially as their ranks on our campus diminish. This year we began the Mercy Emissary Program with a cohort of nearly 40 faculty and staf across both our Erie and North East campuses. Members have been taking hour-long classes periodically throughout the year to
Until next time, Carpe Diem .
Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D. President, Mercyhurst University
ON THE COVER: John Melody ’90 serves up a pint to old friend John Deasy ’90, now a member of Ireland’s Parliament, at Melody’s U Pick 6 Taphouse in downtown Erie. The two men, who were among the frst Irish students to attend Mercyhurst, got together when Deasy visited Erie earlier this year. (Photo by Caitlin Ewing ’14)
The Ofce of Marketing and Public Relations publishes Mercyhurst Magazine twice a year.
Magazine Editor Susan Hurley Corbran ’73 firstname.lastname@example.org 814-824-2090 Design Jeremy C. Hewitt ’07 email@example.com 814-824-3022 Contributing Writers Susan Hurley Corbran ’73 Deborah W. Morton Jennifer Smith
Inside this issue 2 HURST DAY: A NEW TRADITION 3 VICTOR’S VISION 6
Contributing Photographers Caitlin Ewing ’14 Jeremy C. Hewitt ’07
Printing Leader Graphics, Erie, Pennsylvania
25 FACTS FOR MERCYHURST NORTH EAST’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY ‘HURST ANTHROPOLOGIST PROBING NEW HUMAN SPECIES
EVOLUTION OF THE MERCYHURST MASCOT
Director of Alumni Engagement Lindsay Cox ’12 firstname.lastname@example.org 814-824-2330
12 MERCYHURST’S IRISH TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN DEASY ’90, JOHN MELODY ’90 14 ALUMNI PROFILES SEAN FEDORKO ’11 EMILIO COLAIACOVO ’98 SIMON ARIAS ’05 EMILY FRANCIS ’15 AND JOYCE SAVOCCHIO ’65 JORDAN ZANGARO CORCORAN ’10 ANN MARKLEY ’15 (ANNALAINA MARKS) DREW SPACHT ’13 18 ALUMNI NAMED TO BOARD LEADERSHIP POSTS 19 HAGEN HONORED DURING COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY 20 MERCYHURST RECOGNIZES DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI 21 HALL OF FAME INDUCTS STANDOUT LAKER ATHLETES 22 LAKERS, SAINTS HIGHLIGHTS 24 LAKER ALUMS MAKE HISTORY IN NWHL 25 LACROSSE’ING PATHS 25 GRAD WORKS DREAM JOB AT GOP CONVENTION 25 AMY WEAVER-KAULIS WINS TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARD 26 CLASS NOTES 28 LAKER COUPLE STARTS WITH SOLID FOUNDATION 30 YEAR IN REVIEW: MERCYHURST REPORTS RECORD FUNDRAISING YEAR 32 DONOR HONOR ROLL
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The skirl of bagpipes flled the Mercyhurst campus early on the morning of Oct. 7, but few minded the early wakeup call. The pipes signaled that classes would be canceled that day so the whole community could celebrate Hurst Day. It’s a brand-new tradition at Mercyhurst, imported by President Michael T. Victor as part of his campaign to reinvigorate the spirit of Mercyhurst. Students enjoyed a day of outdoor activities and games on the campus green, from a dunk tank to a mechanical bull to an array of
infatable games. More than 75 four-person teams took part in the signature event – a scavenger hunt that tested their knowledge of Mercyhurst history. And everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch in Munson Plaza. “A celebration like Hurst Day, which is a campus-wide event, is the kind of social glue that fosters community and inclusiveness on a college campus, and so I am very excited to begin this new tradition at Mercyhurst,” Victor said. Plans are underway for Hurst Day 2.0, but the inaugural efort will be hard to beat.
HURST DAY A New Tradition
Victor’s vision The sunfower yellow walls of the president’s ofce still glistened with fresh paint as students celebrating Hurst Day scurried about looking for scavenger hunt items. If the new president wanted to make a good frst impression on the student body, he certainly had done it with this colossal new fall tradition dedicated to school spirit and camaraderie amid games, music, a dunk tank, climbing wall and food stations. When Michael T. Victor assumed the Mercyhurst presidency on Aug. 1, 2015, he made it clear change was afoot – and not just in celebratory ways. He likened the modern university to a city-state in its scope and complexity and cautioned that private higher education could no longer thrive simply on experience and instinct.
“At Mercyhurst, we have put in place a business model that demands institutional efectiveness at all levels,” said Victor, who credits his leadership team (see cabinet photo, p. 5) for the strategic path they have charted using research-based problem solving, analysis and best practice. Of all his administration’s accomplishments thus far, perhaps the greatest is in the number of new freshmen enrolling for the 2016-2017 academic year. More than 720 true freshmen are expected to converge on the Erie campus this fall – without a doubt, the largest freshman class in Mercyhurst history. And, Mercyhurst did not lower its standards to achieve this milestone; in fact, this group promises to be one of the brightest yet. “Navigating the whitewater of today’s higher education landscape is a daunting feat, but the fact that we are enrolling so many new students in the throes of it, well, that puts us in an enviable position,”Victor said. But it wasn’t only admissions and marketing that drove the enrollment success; advancement also put forth a Herculean efort to yield the strongest fundraising year in the university’s 90-year history. Overall contributions to Mercyhurst topped $6.57 million with gains in nearly every area: endowment, major gifts and the annual fund. See the Donor Report at the back of this issue for details. In the area of academics, change was widespread. The university’s administrative and academic operations were streamlined to improve efciency, and the academic calendar and liberal arts core curriculum were revamped to make them more responsive to diverse student needs. Of all the changes, the toughest came in right-sizing a faculty that had grown by 20 percent over the past eight years while enrollment had declined by 9 percent. “It was an unsustainable model,”Victor said. “Gratefully, our faculty recognized the fx we were in and were incredibly supportive of our eforts to correct it.” Moving forward, Victor said he intends to continue down the road of innovation, to invest in majors with strong outcomes while being true to Mercyhurst’s liberal arts tradition. He is looking to add distinctive new programs at the university’s North East campus and is building some unique alliances that he anticipates will lead to exciting new learning opportunities for students. “This sustained momentum is designed to make Mercyhurst an even greater university – more intellectually pioneering, more culturally robust and a model of higher education that prepares our students with the critical skills and networks they will need to succeed in today’s global economy,”Victor said.
Scenes from Year 1: President Victor outside Christ the King Chapel; with one of the new Mercyhurst buses that showcase university identity – and save money; with Sister Pat Whalen, RSM, who’s retiring from her full-time job as registrar after decades of service; serving with Provost David Dausey and the rest of the cabinet at Emmaus Soup Kitchen.
New cabinet: President Victor’s cabinet was photographed in the Sennett Board Room for a Victor profle in Erie’s Business Magazine. Pictured, from left, are Merry Bollheimer, general counsel and vice president for legal afairs; Richard Eplawy, interim vice president for fnance; Jeanette Britt, chief information ofcer; David Dausey, provost and vice president for academic afairs; President Victor; Joseph Howard, vice president for enrollment; Laura Zirkle, vice president for student life; Caleb Pifer, vice president for advancement; and Sister Lisa Mary McCartney, RSM, vice president for mission integration. David Myron later joined the team as vice president for fnance and administration. Victor administration brings sweeping changes in first year New calendar New academic structure In fall 2016 Mercyhurst will adopt a two-semester academic calendar. In fall 2015, all of Mercyhurst’s academic programs – including Each 16-week semester will also be divided into two eight-week mini master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees and certifcates on all terms to add fexibility. Most classes will still last the full 16 weeks, but campuses – were restructured into four colleges, each with a full- some will be contained within a single mini term.
time administrative dean. The sweeping change was among the frst initiatives announced after President Michael Victor took ofce and was designed to streamline operations, improve efciency and ensure
The biggest advantage is that all Mercyhurst campuses and programs can now operate on the same calendar. In the past, as many as a dozen
variations were needed to accommodate all our oferings.
The new colleges and their deans are:
Though the calendar no longer includes a J-term, opportunities to study abroad will still be plentiful.
Hafenmaier College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Leanne Roberts, Dean
New core curriculum
Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences
The new REACH Curriculum redefnes the courses that all students take
James Breckenridge, Dean
in addition to their major classes.
Walker College of Business
The acronym REACH refers to fve areas of study that all Mercyhurst students explore: Reason and Faith; Expression and Creativity; Analytical Thinking; Contexts and Systems; and Humans in Connection. Students take two courses from each of these groups. They have to take an English course and a science course with a lab. Beyond that they can choose any 100- or 200-level course. To make sure that they explore the breadth of the liberal arts and sciences, the 10 courses must come from 10 diferent disciplines. Freshmen also take Writing and Research, plus two one-credit courses to help ease the transition from high school to college. Before graduating, students do a senior ethics capstone, and at least one single-credit experience in service learning or civic engagement.
Mary (Missy) Breckenridge, Dean
Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences Michael Elnitsky, Dean
Administrative departments – such as academic afairs, admissions and
IT – have been consolidated across campuses as well.
New record class
Thanks to strategic investments in admissions and marketing, Mercyhurst expects to welcome the largest class in its history this fall. Despite a shrinking pool of high school graduates in the region, Mercyhurst managed to increase its recruitment without lowering standards; in fact, the Class of 2020 may turn out to be the brightest yet. New fundraising success Mercyhurst recorded an outstanding year, with particular success in major gift activity. Sizable commitments were made, including some from donors having no connection to Mercyhurst other than the fact that they believe in where Mercyhurst is going. Learn more about the past year in fundraising in our Donor Report beginning on page 30. 5
Fewer courses are required (13, instead of the 17 under the old core), giving students more opportunities to explore their passions.
Storied past, promising future
3 CHAPELS Three chapels grace the Mercyhurst North East campus, each rich with its own history. St. Mary’s Chapel, built in 1901, was the primary place of worship for the Redemptorists and is still used by students today. It boasts fve magnifcent marble altars. The Stone Chapel, now an intimate dining space for the culinary program, was once used by the Gray Sisters, who cared for the Redemptorists. The executive board room in Neumann Hall was also once a chapel. Though the altar was removed, its beautiful stained glass windows remain.
25 facts for MNE’s 25th anniversary
By Jennifer Smith
2007 The year a new health care center opened west of campus. The $2.9 million facility was a collaborative efort between Hamot and Mercyhurst North East and brought a wider range of health care services to both students and the community.
Seeing – and seizing – the opportunity for a better future has been a part of Mercyhurst North East since its inception. It started 25 years ago when visionary leaders at Mercyhurst and in the North East community saw the potential in transforming a vacant seminary into an 84-acre campus to provide post-secondary education for capable learners. And it continues today, as about 850 students access 24 associate degree programs, eight certifcate programs and two bachelor’s degree programs, with the opportunity to earn a degree in two years or less and enter highly sought-after, well-paid positions or pursue additional education. To celebrate Mercyhurst North East’s storied past and promising future, we’ve compiled 25 fun facts and memorable milestones.
9 SPORTS Nine athletic programs are ofered. Mercyhurst North East students excel on the court as well as in the classroom, with eight of the 20 awards at the 2016 graduation going to athletes.
8” LENS An 8-inch telescope lens is located in the Boelcke Observatory, an operational observatory built in 1953 and named for Father Robert B. Boelcke, a professor of sciences at St. Mary’s Seminary. Its domed, iodized copper roof looks skyward from the midst of student housing.
4 SIM LABS Four state-of-the-art labs ofer students in allied health programs access to patient simulators and valuable hands-on experience. Mercyhurst North East ofers the region’s only certifed health care simulation educator, Patricia Pulito.
300 RESIDENTS Three hundred students can live on campus. 24 fully furnished townhouses with three bedrooms, full kitchen, 1.5 baths and common space have been constructed over the years. Redemptorist Hall, which features pod-style living, opened in 2008.
$6 MILLION Six million dollars, the cost of the Michele and Tom Ridge Health and Safety Building completed in 2005 with an unprecedented $2 million state grant. The geothermal building includes a 16,000-square-foot library, cofee bar, computer room, great room, six classrooms, two nursing simulation labs and ofce space.
2+2 A number of MNE programs include convenient 2 + 2 options, allowing students to seamlessly transition to Mercyhurst University and earn a bachelor’s degree in two additional years.
ROUTE 16 EMTA bus route that provides
transportation between North East and Erie with multiple stops each weekday.
See more on page 8.
More figures from MNE’s first 25 years $0 – The amount Father Gildea wanted to be paid for speaking at MNE’s 2009 graduation. Instead his portrait was added to the mural depicting the Redemptorist tradition that has graced the back of Miller Hall since 1991.
94% – the job placement rate for the Physical Therapist Assistant program, which began in 1994. The three-year average for the national boards pass rate in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program is 95 percent. The Respiratory Therapy program last year had a 100% national boards pass rate and 100% job placement rate. 100% of culinary students get positions in their feld or continue on for further education. The program director, Beth Ann Sheldon, graduated from the program in 1998. iMU 101 is a one-credit course that helps new or adult students successfully transition to college. This is just one of many services ofered by the Academic Success Center including tutoring, time management, study skills, test-taking strategies, paper and résumé writing, job and internship postings, and an employment fair. 107 classes of cadets have graduated from the Municipal Police Training Academy and are serving as police ofcers, park rangers, municipal authority ofcers and many other positions in the criminal justice system. 110 – The number of years the property was home to St. Mary’s Seminary. The seminary closed its doors in the mid-1980s, but its students return annually to visit. The student union is named in honor of Matt Ryan, a member of the St. Mary’s class of 1962 who was killed serving as a fre battalion chief in New York City on 9/11. 200 North East community members collectively raised $500,000 toward Mercyhurst North East’s initial renovation. Their names are still on display in the main hallway in Miller Hall. AM1530 WYNE was Mercyhurst North East’s frst radio station. Its move to the former National Bank of North East marked MNE’s frst move beyond campus. That expansion continued in 2000 with the purchase of the Schouller Pool (now the Mercyhurst North East Aquatic Center) and in 2007 with the purchase of the former First National Bank of North East building on Route 89 near Interstate 90 (now the Janet L. Miller Center for Growth and Academic Excellence building used for nursing and police training).
1 pay phone and one computer with dial-up internet were the means of connectivity on campus when Mercyhurst North East opened in 1991. $1.2 million Hirtzel Human Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology Laboratory, which opened in 2009, is among the best in the country and features a cadaver lab, room for processing human remains, digital X-ray system, combination anatomy lab and classroom with stations for cadaver dissection, and a green energy recovery and air ventilation system. $1.5 million was the amount paid by Mercyhurst for the former St. Mary’s Seminary, payable over 10 years. A $50,000 non-refundable deposit was made by Robert S. Miller, a local businessman and benefactor. Mercyhurst awarded him an honorary degree in 2011 to recognize his unwavering support. 9-acre Miller Estate property, just across the street from the original campus, was donated in 2012 to serve as the future home of the culinary and hospitality learning labs. 18K – Students who transfer to MU from MNE are eligible for up to $18,000 in scholarships and can save nearly $30,000 on a bachelor’s degree by starting with an associate degree. 43K – The annual median salary of a practical nurse is $43,170. More than 117,000 new jobs are expected in this feld by 2024. 53 students in the inaugural class. Today more than 850 students are enrolled on the North East campus. The Redemptorist tradition of hanging a class photo in the main hallway continues to this day. 80 students enrolled at the Booker T. Washington campus. This location in downtown Erie opened in 2010, ofering increased access to associate degrees in business administration, criminal justice and liberal arts.
Photo of Heather Garvin and Jill Scott by John Hawks
Meet Homo naledi Garvin still probing new human species In the spring of 2014, Mercyhurst anthropologist Heather Garvin embarked on the journey of a lifetime. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger recruited her to join an international team of scientists analyzing a remarkable fnd – an unprecedented quantity of hominin fossils discovered deep in South Africa’s Rising Star cave system. The Rising Star team would later determine the fossils represented a new species of human ancestor and dub him Homo naledi . (“Naledi” means star in South Africa’s Sotho language.) The fnd, announced to the world in September 2015, was described in two papers published in the journal eLife , the cover story of the October 2015 issue of National Geographic and a NOVA/National Geographic Special. Discovery magazine declared “Homo naledi and the Chamber of Secrets” the second most important science story of 2015 (behind only new revelations about the planet Pluto). The new species sheds light on the origins and diversity of our genus, Garvin said, adding that H. naledi has a unique combination of more primitive traits combined with some surprisingly
information about the beginning of our genus, Homo ,” she said. “On the other hand, if they are less than a million years old, it would indicate that there were multiple forms of human ancestors living in South Africa at the same time, and that this small-brained species with climbing capabilities lived alongside larger-brained species, including Homo erectus , which was the frst known hominin to leave Africa.” Regardless of the age, Berger has said the fossils will force anthropologists to rethink long-held theories about human evolution. The Rising Star Expedition is expected to continue as many more fossils remain to be unearthed, Garvin said. While two years have passed since her trip to South Africa, Garvin and her colleagues continue to research H. naledi and publish their fndings. They presented a symposium at the national meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in April, and Garvin is a coauthor on a paper recently published in the Journal of Human Evolution . The discovery of H. naledi also drew widespread public interest and Garvin has shared her story with audiences ranging from elementary school children to college students to senior citizens. Garvin earned her master’s degree in biological and forensic anthropology from Mercyhurst, went on to earn her doctorate from Johns Hopkins University and then returned four years ago to join Mercyhurst as an assistant professor of anthropology.
humanlike features, including feet nearly indistinguishable from those of modern humans. H. naledi also appears to have intentionally deposited bodies of its dead in a remote cave chamber, a ritualized behavior previously thought limited to humans. Berger and his researchers spent three weeks in 2013 bringing up an estimated 1,550 hominin fossils from an elaborate cave system in a region in South Africa already known as the Cradle of Humankind because of earlier fossil discoveries there. The fossils belong to at least 15 diferent individuals, including eight children, fve adults and two adolescents. Working with the cranial team, Garvin used 3D scanning methods to create a virtual reconstruction of the skull and, from that, estimate the brain size of the new species. Garvin had come well prepared. Through her career research, she had amassed a collection of more than 700 3D surface scans of skulls from around the world. The team concluded H. naledi’ s brain was tiny: 500 cubic centimeters, or about the size of an average orange. Garvin also led the body-size team, charged with determining the height and weight of the species. Her group’s analysis showed that H. naledi stood about 4’10” and weighed approximately 100 pounds. Work is continuing to establish the age of the fossils, Garvin said. “If the fossils turn out to be older than 2 million years, it will give us pertinent
” Left: “Crazy Dave” Armstrong displays the Wompkin Pumpkin. Right: Rick Gotkin with “The Old Man in the Sea.
Faces of Laker spirit Evolution of the Mercyhurst mascot
Dave Armstrong ’86 started quite a tradition when he created the frst costumed character to rally support for Laker teams.
one is quite sure why, but the Buccaneer never actually appeared at a sporting event. “I still like to think that my idea set the stage for what was to come later,” Eric says. In 1994, the college community was again invited to submit mascot proposals, and this time the winning entry came from men’s hockey coach Rick Gotkin. He’d had the design for “The Old Man in the Sea” in his fles since arriving at Mercyhurst in 1988. Not surprisingly, his character wore ice skates and carried a hockey stick, but student Kevin Segedi ’98 was able to modify the design so The Old Man could represent all Laker teams. The Old Man wore a blue, green and white Laker jersey (number 00) and had a large sculpted head with a jutting chin, an oversized nose and a huge grin. Following spirited tryouts in 1996, students Jefrey Dulemba ‘03, Jennifer Houck ’99 and Jennifer Feser ’97 won the right to fll The Old Man’s shoes at games for the frst year. After a decade or so of heavy use, The Old Man was showing his age and yet another contest was staged to update the Mercyhurst mascot. As Spirit Committee Chair Jef Cagle ‘07 said at the time, “We want to change the face of Laker Spirit!” Laker quarterback Mitch Phillis ’08 and tackle Steve Kindler ‘08 came up with the winning concept—a seaman with a commanding presence, but not a pirate.
Back in high school, he had an alter ego known as “Crazy Dave.” During his freshman year at Mercyhurst, Dave and his buddies on McAuley’s third foor decided to pull out all the stops to win a school spirit contest. So he resurrected his Crazy Dave persona and donned an infatable green head known as the Wompkin Pumpkin, complete with a fuorescent orange nose and yellow horns. Not only did the guys win that spirit contest, but Crazy Dave became a fxture at major sporting events over the next four years. He told Merciad reporter Debbie Hison in 1984 that it was his greatest thrill “when someone tells me that I was the sixth man on the team. Maybe one basket was diferent because the crowd was cheering and the team got excited.” Dave’s graduation left quite a void, so his successor as MSG president, Michael Kelly ’88, launched a drive to create an ofcial mascot – one who would personify that mysterious creature known as a Laker. “The Buccaneer,” proposed by Eric Flecken ’89, won the Merciad contest in a landslide. Eric says he envisioned a student dressed up in blue, green and white pirate regalia, rather than a full costume. Praeterita 1987 announced the selection and reported, “The raised sword portrays our willingness to accept all challenges. His proud stance shows our confdence, both as teams and as a community.” No
Above Left: Louie the Laker. Above Right: Luke the Laker. Right: Luke the Laker bobblehead, available in the Bookstore starting Homecoming Weekend.
Named Louie the Laker primarily for the alliteration, the new mascot incorporated interchangeable jerseys for basketball, football and hockey; a head that could turn; removable shoes so he could wear skates to hockey games; and a cooling system to keep the student inside the bulky costume from overheating. Introduced at a big hockey game early in 2006, Louie was a beloved fgure around campus for years...until a fash food in 2015 in the student union building damaged him beyond repair.
“I was so upset when I heard Louie had been destroyed,” Jef recalls. “It felt like a part of my past at Mercyhurst had died.”
A brand-new mascot – the still alliteratively named Luke the Laker – arrived in fall 2015. Staf from the Campus Involvement Center, athletics, marketing, the university archives and others worked together to develop his backstory. Watch the story of his arrival at Mercyhurst at mercyhurst.edu/meet-the-mascot . Luke, an Irish-born fsherman billed as the nephew of the late Louie, made his frst appearance at the home football opener against Bentley in 2015. Since then, he’s appeared everywhere, popping up not only at athletic contests but all over campus as well as at community events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The students who bring Luke to life are kept secret, and not revealed until a ceremony near the end of each year.
President Michael T. Victor (center) welcomes 1990 graduates John Melody (left) and John Deasy back to campus during a May visit. Mercyhurst’s Irish trailblazers By Deborah W. Morton
Thirty years ago two Irish teens, both schoolmates and friends, set forth on their frst airplane ride and their inaugural trip to America.
to shoot pool is gone and their residences have been replaced by the bookstore and Audrey Hirt Academic Center, but the memories are forever forged in their minds. “When I went away to college, nobody back home knew that it was Mercyhurst or that it was in Erie, Pennsylvania; they just knew I came to America,” Melody said. “Now, I can’t walk down the streets of Dungarvan without somebody knowing somebody from Mercyhurst.” “The relationship has defnitely deepened,” said Deasy. “It’s not just Irish students coming to Mercyhurst and getting the American experience; it’s Mercyhurst students coming to Ireland and getting the European experience.” The success Deasy and Melody have achieved since going their separate ways after graduating from Mercyhurst in 1990 is remarkable. Still, get them together, and they are the same two college buddies, full of traditional Irish charm, warmth and wit. In fact, give them a game of golf and a pint of stout, and 30 years evaporate
While these were frsts for them, it was also a frst for Mercyhurst’s fedgling international recruiting program. These Irish lads, who graduated from St. Augustine’s in Dungarvan, County Waterford, were among the frst group of Irish students to study at Mercyhurst through the John F. Kennedy Irish Scholarship Competition. Flash forward and Mercyhurst is now home to students from more than 50 countries. But back in 1986, young John Deasy, a history major with political aspirations, and his buddy John Melody, a hospitality major with a passion for soccer, were blazing a new frontier at Mercyhurst. Earlier this year they reunited on the Erie campus at a lunch hosted by President Michael T. Victor. Deasy, a respected member of the Irish Parliament since 2002, and Melody, a well-known Erie restaurateur, refected on their days on the Hill. The student union where they used
John Deasy has represented the constituency of Waterford in Dáil Éireann, the Irish Parliament, since 2002. like the morning dew on a warm summer day.
Besides running four successful restaurants, John Melody owns and coaches the Erie Commodores FC soccer club.
fnished his fve-year tenure with an overall 72-19-6 record and were 37-4-3 in the GLIAC. He was named GLIAC Men’s Coach of the Year three times and GLIAC Women’s Coach of the Year twice. Little wonder that in 2015, Melody was inducted into the Mercyhurst Athletic Hall of Fame. “I am thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had at Mercyhurst over the years,” Melody said. And, of course, few would deny that Mercyhurst and Erie are grateful that he chose to stay and share his good fortune with us. Likewise, Deasy has been infuential across the pond in paving the way for Mercyhurst’s programs in Ireland, including the launch of the Global Intelligence Forum and the Mercyhurst in Ireland satellite site, which creates opportunities for study abroad and for research and collaboration with Irish partners. Deasy, too, has a deep and abiding gratitude for having studied at Mercyhurst. He credited his history professors for the knowledge they imparted, the liberal arts curriculum for expanding his horizons, and the small size of campus for enabling him to make mistakes without falling too hard on the road to maturity. “I also owe a debt of gratitude to Bill Garvey (former Mercyhurst president) for all he did for me and the kids from Ireland over the years,” Deasy said. Before Deasy few back to Ireland, he and Melody sipped on a couple pints and shared old college stories. They also looked to the future. Melody frequently brings his family to campus. “I’m always running around here with the kids; it’s like our backyard,” he said. Melody and his wife, Leanne, have three children, Maeve, 7, and 3-year-old twins, Clodagh and Rory. Deasy, meanwhile, has his mind made up. On more than one occasion he’s told his wife, Maura Derrane, that their 2-year-old son, Cal, is going to Mercyhurst for college. 13
For many Erie residents, John Melody is “Erie’s Irishman.”Whether turning guests into friends at one of his four U Pick 6 establishments, coaching a tough-nosed, attacking brand of soccer as owner of the Erie Commodores FC, or letting his lyrical Irish brogue waft over the radio waves to win new customers and fans, Melody brings a bit of Ireland with him everywhere he goes.
Melody says he and Deasy have much in common, explaining: “He’s focused, driven and intelligent – I’m good for two of the three.”
At Mercyhurst, Deasy was an exemplary student who played golf and was sports editor of the student newspaper, The Merciad . After graduating, he went to work for John Heinz, until the Pennsylvania Republican senator’s tragic death in April 1991. Later, he served as a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives for Rhode Island Republican Ronald Machtley before spending two years as manager of legislative afairs for a Chicago-based law frm. In 1997 Deasy returned to Ireland, where he completed a Bachelor of Civil Laws (Honours) degree at University College Cork. He entered electoral politics in 1999, topping the poll at the Dungarvan Town Council elections and the Waterford County Council elections. Three years later he succeeded his father, former cabinet minister Austin Deasy, as a member for the constituency of Waterford in Dáil Éireann, the Irish Parliament. Deasy has retained his Dáil seat at each of the elections held since then, most recently in February 2016. Both Melody and Deasy say they hold Mercyhurst near and dear and count it as instrumental in their success. Melody has actually coached soccer and worked in advancement at Mercyhurst in years past. He is proudest of his Mercyhurst soccer career, both as a player and a coach, and remembers setting a record for most goals scored in a season – 16 – his senior year. As coach from 1997 to 2001, his men’s team had an overall record of 70-21-4 and a perfect 27-0 record in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). The women
Justice Colaiacovo After a successful law career in his native Bufalo, New York, Emilio Colaiacovo ‘98 took the logical next step last year and ran for judge. He began a 14-year term on the New York State Supreme Court on Jan. 1, 2016. While in private practice, Emilio focused on matrimonial and family law matters with the Bouvier Partnership in Bufalo, while at the same time handling numerous municipal and election law matters. He served as counsel to the Erie County (N.Y.) Republican Committee and in 2012 he was an attorney for the Mitt Romney campaign. “Once you become involved,” he says, “it’s hard not to be bitten by the bug of public service.” Running for judge gave him the best of both worlds, since he can advance his career within the law, the feld he loves. “It’s who I am,” he says simply. “It’s a new opportunity to learn more about the law,” he notes. “You can sometimes get pigeonholed in a certain area in legal practice, so it’s been refreshing to research and write about areas I’ve had less experience with.” Emilio received the Carpe Diem Award at his graduation, in recognition of his impact on campus. He was involved with just about everything, from student government to campus ministry to the Merciad , and worked as an RA. He was part of the Research Intelligence Analyst Program (RIAP), and he spent the summer following graduation as the frst-ever paid intern with the National Security Agency before enrolling in law school at the University of Bufalo. During his legal career, he was recognized as one of Bufalo’s Top 10 Lawyers in 2014 by Bufalo’s Business First Magazine and was a director of the Erie County, N.Y. Bar Association. Emilio and his wife, Kimberly, also a lawyer, live in Clarence with 6-year-old Brayden and 3-year-old Abrielle. Of the bench, he’s active with Bufalo’s Italian Federation. An avid Bufalo Sabres fan, he also coaches Brayden’s hockey team.
Building a coworking community Sean Fedorko is doing his part to combat the dreaded “brain drain” in Erie. Not only did the 2011 political science and philosophy grad come back to Erie to start his own business, but his business caters to other young entrepreneurs looking to do the same thing.
Radius also ofers desk space that can be used on an as-needed basis, plus private rooms for conferences and phone calls. It has expanded across the corridor to develop a space that will house both an art gallery and a classroom/board room for 30 to 40 people. Regular “cofee and consultation” days bring together lawyers, investment managers, CPAs and others willing to advise attendees as they establish their own companies. “Young people today are very serious about building their own companies,” Sean says. “By making the resources they need easily accessible, we can increase the odds they’ll survive. And these young entrepreneurs are the people who can save a city.” Space is rented on a month-to-month basis, and several companies have already grown enough to move into their own larger, more permanent spaces. Always on the lookout for new opportunities, Sean says he’ll also likely move on at some point. “Contented people drive me crazy. Once I get this venture to stability, I’ll probably turn the management over telecommunications policy, a feld in which he worked in Washington before heading back to Erie. Sean also holds a master’s degree in public policy and political theory from Indiana University Bloomington. to someone else and look for a new challenge.” Maybe he’ll step back into
Radius CoWork – the business he created with partner Bill Scholz – is the frst coworking space in Erie. Located on the ninth foor of the Renaissance Center, it provides inexpensive ofce space for small companies just starting out, freelancers and others now working remotely. Radius has drawn a lot of tech and digital creatives, like photographers and web developers, some fnancial professionals and even a couple of small nonprofts. Those who opt for the top level of service pay $230 a month, which gets them 24/7 use of a desk and chair, a pass to the adjoining parking ramp, and perks like top-of-the-line Wi-Fi, print services, basic ofce supplies and an endless supply of gourmet cofee. But Sean says the social and professional benefts are even more important. Radius tenants are part of both a real-world and a digital community. They meet people, who often become their mentors, collaborators and clients. Young business owners miss out on those “introductions, connections and collisions” if they work out of mom’s basement or the neighborhood cofee shop.
Agency owner focuses on service Simon Arias joined the sales force with American Income Life right after his 2005 graduation from Mercyhurst. AIL provides life and supplemental health insurance benefts to members of credit unions, labor unions and associations. Today, at 32, he’s an agency owner with 11 locations in fve states and sits on the company’s executive council. In 2011 and 2012 he was named AIL’s agency owner of the year internationally. His rise through the company ranks has been quick, but Simon would rather focus on what that success has allowed him to do for others. “The way you continue to be blessed is to be a blessing to others,” he says. One of his biggest commitments is to Inspiring Minds, which works to inspire at-risk youth to reach their full potential by providing education and other life-changing experiences. Simon partnered with founder Deryck Toles to establish a branch in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, and serves as its board chair. Another passion is the nonproft Hydrating Humanity. “Did you know that $10,000 can build a well for children in Africa who now have to walk miles to get fresh water?” he asks. Every Saturday, Simon contributes a video blog entry to The Daily Locker Room (visit dailylockerroom.com ), which ofers positive insights on business and on life. The blog was founded by Eric Giglione, one Athena honors pair of ‘Hurst alums In a ftting piece of symmetry, to violence, HIV/AIDS or extreme two women who graduated poverty; and with Noah's Ark from Mercyhurst 50 years apart Hands on Training Center, a home received the major awards at the and education center for disabled 2015 Athena Awards in Erie. The orphans.
of Simon’s early mentors at American Income Life and now one of his closest friends.
Simon describes his 2- to 4-minute posts as “like a shot of espresso for your mind in the morning,” a quick inspirational message you can listen to while brushing your teeth or driving to work. Simon maintains close ties with Mercyhurst and with President Michael Victor, who was dean of the Walker School of Business when Simon was a business and marketing student. Simon’s donations helped develop the viewing area to the south of Tullio Field, now known as Arias Agencies Alumni Hill. “I have great memories of practicing and playing on that feld, so it was a project I was delighted to support,” he says. He played on the Laker football team from 2001 to 2005 and was captain as a senior. Simon and his wife, Natalie, have a 1-year-old daughter named Sienna. In his down time, he enjoys traveling and working out and is a student of jiujitsu and mixed martial arts.
Athena Leadership Award went to former Erie Mayor Joyce Savocchio ’65, while the Athena Young Professional Award was presented A dual major in intelligence and public health, Emily earned the Bishop’s Award for Academic Excellence at her Mercyhurst to Emily Francis ’15. master’s degree in international development from the Graduate School of International Afairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh. Her focus is on Non- governmental Organizations and graduation. She’s working toward a
Emily served last year on the GSPIA Student Cabinet and was a member of the Ford Institute for Human Security working group for Gender Equality in Public Administration. She expects to begin work this fall with the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, while beginning a job search for after her Joyce taught history and social studies in Erie for 24 years and spent four years as an assistant principal at Strong Vincent High School, but is best known as the frst woman to serve on Erie City Council and later the frst woman May 2017 graduation.
Research Project, the Regional Cancer Center, the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging and the Jeferson Educational Society of Erie. More quietly, though, she's been an important role model for other women, said Linda Stevenson, chairwoman and founder of the Erie Athena program. Above, Provost David Dausey, Emily Francis ’15 and President Michael T. Victor. At right, Emily Francis ’15 and Joyce Savocchio ’65 (photo by Jennifer Dworek).
elected mayor of Erie.
She’s interning in Uganda this summer with Bright Kids Uganda, a home for children orphaned due
In later years, she's been active in what became the Kanzius Cancer
#TheAcceptanceMovement Jordan Zangaro Corcoran ’10 learned about the cathartic power of writing as an opinion columnist for the Merciad . For years, she wrote mostly about daily life as a Mercyhurst student – light fare like her distaste for the ranch dressing in the dining hall or how annoying it is when a well-meaning neighbor throws your delicates into a hot dryer. But then, late in her senior year, she took a leap of faith and opened up about the crippling anxiety she’d been dealing with since high school. By that time, she was healthier, thanks to counseling, medication, writing therapy and support from close friends and her then-boyfriend (now husband) Connor Corcoran ’10. Still she knew she was taking a risk by
She wrote the frst post herself, and then encouraged others to share their own stories. Posters have written about everything from body image disorders to alcoholism, from self-doubt and anger to death and loss. Jordan says her message is simple. We need to accept ourselves and whatever hand we’ve been dealt and to accept other people as they are, understanding the struggles they face. Her goal is to create a less judgmental and more accepting world. She calls it #TheAcceptanceMovement . The T-shirts she sells through her site advise
revealing her struggle.
“The support I received when people outside my little circle found out
readers to “Build yourself up, don’t beat yourself up.”
was overwhelmingly wonderful,” she recalls.
Listen, Lucy also ofers Pay It Forward cards. When you do a random act of kindness, you hand out a card to encourage others to pay it forward. The cards, created by Jordan’s dad, promote Listen, Lucy and have helped
Convinced that others could feel the same kind of freedom by writing about their internal struggles, in 2013 she created an online community she titled “Listen, Lucy.”Two years later she gave up her job with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Pittsburgh to manage her growing
spread her message around the country and the world.
initiative full time.
Jordan does a lot of public speaking and is now planning a major college tour this fall that will form the basis for a documentary about her project.
Here’s how she defnes her project: Listen, Lucy is a place to express yourself. Freely. Creatively. Anonymously. To fnd comfort in seeing that you are not alone.
Learn more about the project at listenlucy.org .
Photos: Steven Menendez
Markley’s career on rise
Ann Markley got her Mercyhurst degree in 2015 – a full decade after she was scheduled to graduate. But she put the years in between to good use, taking fourth place on America’s Next Top Model and then launching a successful career in modeling and acting. She flmed the reality show during the summer after her junior year. When she returned to campus in fall 2004, she knew she wanted to test the waters in New York City once she “But once the show began airing in September, I realized I couldn’t wait – opportunities opened up for me right away and I needed to take advantage of them,” she says. She withdrew during winter term, just seven classes away from earning her degree in management information systems. She was also part of Mercyhurst’s brand-new water polo program. graduated. She has modeled steadily ever since, under
contract with Wilhelmina Models and other top agencies, doing runway work as well as print ad campaigns, including several magazine and
Branching out into commercials, she decided to pursue acting classes. That led to a variety of appearances in TV and movies using the
professional name Annalaina Marks.
production this summer and Ann says Rachel is
expected to be a recurring character.
One recent job paired her with Stephen Colbert in a promo for his late-night talk show. Parodying well-known drug commercials, “Ask Your Doctor about the Late Show with Stephen Colbert” asked “Are you sufering from premature bedtime? When 11:35 rolls around,
Ann married Colin Branca, who’s also an actor, in 2013, and they moved to the Philadelphia area when their daughter, Frankie, arrived last year. Both commute regularly to New York City for By 2014, she realized she was too close to earning her degree to not fnish. Over the next year, she fnished the courses she needed online and got her degree in general studies with a auditions and jobs.
will you be ready?”
She also played Rachel Greenbaum on The Breaks , an original movie from VH1 that chronicles the rise of hip-hop music in the 1990s. A series based on the movie goes into
Left: Drew Spacht ‘13 studying in Antarctica. Right: Mike Elnitsky studying in Antarctica.
Student, teacher share passion for Antarctica When Drew Spacht ‘13 studied biology at Mercyhurst, it was Professor (now Dean) Mike Elnitsky who got him hooked on the study of insects. Drew later followed in his mentor’s footsteps, frst to grad school in biology – and now all the way to Antarctica.
Just reaching Palmer Station is a challenge. Drew took three fights totaling about 24 hours to reach Punta Arenas, Chile, at the southern tip of South America. Then he boarded the research vessel Laurence M. Gould to journey for several more days across some of the toughest seas in the world. The station on Anvers Island ofers comfortable accommodations, but little privacy, to the 44 people who live there during the summer research season (winter in the Northern Hemisphere), when the station enjoys about 19 hours of daylight. From that base, Drew used a Zodiac, a rigid infatable boat, to explore and gather specimens from 30 small islands that surround Anvers. Drew calls the Antarctic a “perfect outdoor research lab.” Dr. Elnitsky adds, “I remember being humbled by the sheer size of everything, and realizing how insignifcant I am in the big picture of things.”
Midway through a doctoral program in insect physiology at Ohio State, he lived and worked at the remote Palmer Research Station from Jan. 8 to March 18 and will return for a second season in December. Elnitsky traveled to Palmer in 2006 and 2007 during his own graduate work at Miami University of Ohio and says he’s enjoying reliving those experiences through his student. Both men worked on an ongoing Ohio State/Miami project that focuses on Belgica antarctica , a wingless midge that’s the only true insect found on Antarctica. Though Belgica is only 2 to 6 mm long, it’s the continent’s largest terrestrial animal. It’s also amazingly resistant to all kinds of stresses. The lack of wings may have been an evolutionary development to help the midge endure the region’s often windy conditions. Belgica can also withstand freezing, dehydration, lack of oxygen and more – so researchers continue to explore the strategies it uses to survive its harsh environment.
Both agree it’s not only a great place to do scientifc research, but also one of the most beautiful places in the world.
View a collection of Drew’s images from Palmer Station at 500px.com/drewspacht .
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