Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2018

From left: Provost David Dausey, Thomas B. Hagen, President Michael Victor, Vice President Cal Pifer, Dean Leanne Roberts Hurst christens Thomas B. Hagen History Department

lifelong dedication to community development and historic preservation. Hagen recently gave Mercyhurst a $1.5 million gift, part of it earmarked to support the university’s pursuits in history, including its partnership with the Erie Maritime Museum and the U.S. Brig Niagara. Every student who enters the Hagen History Department is fascinated by the past. And each will emerge with a strong background in history, in keeping with the traditions of a liberal arts education. Along the way, they can also opt to specialize in areas like education, public history, and soon documentary flmmaking. Senior Andrew Gebauer spent fall term immersed in the study of medicine during the Civil War, working with primary sources created more than 150 years ago. He borrowed a medical journal written in 1865 by the medical director of the Union Army through Inter Library Loan. Carefully turning pages turned brown and crusty with age, he learned not only how war injuries were treated, but also about lasting advances in medical care that resulted. He accessed digitized versions of other resources right on his computer.

Thomas B. Hagen’s impact can be seen and felt all over Erie and around the state: At Erie Insurance Group, Erie’s only Fortune 500 company, which he chairs; At the Historical Society of Erie County, which has designated its campus the Thomas B. Hagen History Center; At Preservation Pennsylvania, which presented

“What sets us apart from other programs is the diversity of options and possibilities we ofer our students,” says Department Chair Dr. John Olszowka. “We simply facilitate pathways that allow them to grow into the career they wish to pursue.”Whatever they focus on, he adds, the skills they learn – conducting thorough research; analyzing and weighing facts; and presenting sound and eloquent conclusions both orally and in writing – will serve them well in any career they choose. Here’s a snapshot of some of the options available in the history department.

him with its highest honor for historic preservation, the Otto Haas Award.

And now at Mercyhurst as well. As of last fall, Mercyhurst’s history department is known as the Thomas B. Hagen Department of History. It’s a ftting tribute for a man best known for his

“Most people have heard gruesome stories about battlefeld amputations without anesthesia,” he says. “I want them to understand that yes, it was gruesome, but so many medical advances came out of it.” Andrew presented his paper – “From Bull Run to Petersburg: The Story of the Union Medical System and Its Lasting Efects” – in January at a conference of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society, in New Orleans.


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