MERVelous Exchange Opportunities for Students and Faculty

In the very near future, we will be welcoming two new scholars from Yang-En University in China to our campus, Professors Melya Wei and Yannei Lin, both scholars in English. At the end of the fall 2014 semester, we said good-bye to Professors Christine Cia (School of Arts & Sciences) and Anna Zhang (School of Business), but we have plans to reconnect with them in China later this semester.  More to come…

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Professor Christine Cai, Vice Dean of the Foreign Studies Department at Yang-En University; President Owens; Dr. Frank Scully, Vice President of Academic Affairs at GMercyU and Anna Zhang, Dean of the School of Economics at Yang-En University.

Just last week, we greeted a team of colleagues from China, who are visiting the campuses of the 5 universities that make up our China consortium, known as The Alpha Group (TAG). Together, these five universities, including Benedictine University (Chicago), Saint Thomas University (Houston); Alvernia University (Reading); Mount Saint Mary’s College (New York) and Gwynedd Mercy University are TAG.  The five universities are working together to create opportunities for our students and faculty to engage in academic and cross cultural experiences.

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Laibao (McDowell) Bian, Cici Zhang, Donald Su, President Owens, Guangchao (Frank) Shi and Shaolin (Joe) Zhou

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GMercyU’s guests got a taste of what it’s like to live at GMercyU by having lunch in our delicious cafeteria.

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Associate Director of Residence Life John Verdi gave our visitors a tour of GMercyU’s residence halls.

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Guangchao (Frank) Shi and Director of International Student Services Lora Steiner played a friendly game of Ping-Pong in the Rotelle Lounge.

Their visit provided a great opportunity to showcase the GMercyU campus and the city of Philadelphia.  Thanks to Dr. Heather Pfleger, Dean of the School of Business, and Dr. Lisa McGarry, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, we are working on articulation agreements with universities in China.

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(Back) Donald Su; Director of International Student Services Lora Steiner; Dean of the School of Business Dr. Heather Pfleger; Shaolin (Joe) Zhou. (Front) Guangchao (Frank) Shi; Cici Zhang; Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Lisa McGarry; Laibao (McDowell) Bian.

This visit provided a great opportunity for our colleagues from China to experience the vibrancy of our campus and the commitment of our university community to engage in international exchange.

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MERVelous Start to the Spring 2015 Semester

Our spring semester is off to a great start!  Earlier today, I welcomed students, colleagues and friends to our annul MLK prayer breakfast to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  It was a most fitting tribute to his memory as we gathered in faith to celebrate the energy of the Holy Spirit, so that we, like Dr. King, may stand up, speak out, and live out the call to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God!

Recent events of violence, tension, terror, and unrest -across our nation and throughout the world- poignantly remind us that a racial, religious, cultural, and economic divide still painfully tears at the heart of our shared humanity, which Dr. King once described as “an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny.

We were joined in our prayer today by Pastor Rob Harrison, the Executive Director of Mt. Airy Stenton Family Manor, who shared his reflections on the life and legacy of Dr. King.

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Pastor Harrison took time to reflect on Dr. King’s message.

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Voices of Gwynedd led the University in song during the MLK Prayer Service.

Throughout the Greater Philadelphia-Area and across the nation, Dr. King’s birthday calls us to a “day of service.”  To coincide with this nationwide initiative, the University’s Staff Council  kicked off its winter coat drive today to include “gently used” winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves, all to benefit Philadelphia-based, Project HOME– a Philadelphia non-profit organization empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through affordable housing, employment, health care, and education. Items can be dropped off through January 30th in various locations across campus.

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Staff Council members, Lori Davis and Donna Ferguson, collected winter items to donate to Project HOME.

While our students participate in various service activities on this “day of service”, it’s only one of many days where GMercyU students are engaged in service on behalf of others.

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Students and staff participated in a Thanksgiving Food Drive to deliver to local families in need.

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Students participate in various service projects during Orientation Weekend at the start of the fall semester.

Already, we are planning for this semester’s week-long, Alternate Spring Break (ASB) service trips in March.  More to come on these trips as the semester progresses…

MERVelous Donors

At Gwynedd Mercy, we are blessed with many friends and benefactors who support the University and primarily our students. Over 95% of our students receive financial aid from one or more sources, including the university, federal government, state of Pennsylvania and loans.  For GMercyU students, the largest source of aid comes in the form of institutional scholarships and grants.  This past year, the University awarded approximately $15 million dollars of institutional aid to our students.

In Pennsylvania, the most recent data available provides clear evidence that independent colleges and universities have done more to assist low-income students than other sectors.  In 2011-2012, first-time, full-time undergraduates at Pennsylvania independent institutions receiving financial aid received an average of $16, 401 in grant aid from institutional sources, compared to $5,520 at State-Related Universities, and $3,547 at the State System of Higher Education.  Moreover, independent college and university students are more likely to get their bachelor’s degree in 4 years than their public school peers, i.e., 61% at Independent Colleges & Universities; 35% at State-Related Universities; and 17% at State System of Higher Education. The extra time to degree in various higher education sectors is often a factor overlooked in discussions about college cost.

At Gwynedd Mercy University, our continued ability to support and prepare Distinctive Mercy Graduates, that is, graduates who exhibit professional competence in their professional field or academic discipline; a foundation in liberal learning; and a commitment to the core values of Mercy, especially the value of service—is in great measure a function of the on-going, valued support that we receive from our alumni, friends and benefactors.

Recently, members of our University community participated in the National Thank a Donor Day.  On behalf of our students, please know how grateful we are for your continued, loyal and valued support!

MERVelous Chicago-area Alumni

Just last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago to meet with several alumni who have long-ago relocated to the Windy City.  It was a great evening filled with good company, great conversation and tasty cuisine!

Aileen Schneidhauer '61, Carol Kirr '66, President Owens, Maria Bradley '73 and Mary Griffin '61

Aileen Schneidhauer ’61, Carol Kirr ’66, Maria Bradley ’73 and Mary Griffin ’61

It was wonderful to hear the stories of everyone’s experiences both at Gwynedd, as well as early career experiences and various transitions over the years.  The evening was equally enjoyed by our spouses, all of whom were from the greater Philadelphia area and had attended some of the nearby, then, all-male institutions in the region.

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As always, the evening flew by way too quickly.  I truly enjoy the opportunity to visit alums around the country and to learn how their GMercyU experience shaped their journeys.  It’s equally rewarding to hear about the support and encouragement that was provided by so many of the Sisters who either taught at Gwynedd or were teaching at various Catholic high schools in the region and encouraged the young women to pursue their dream of a college education.

Along with GMercyU Alumni Director Gianna Quinn, I am looking forward to visiting alumni in San Diego in January, Florida in February and Baltimore/DC in April.  While I love Chicago, which is my home, I have prudently planned other locations for January and February!

MERVelous Griffins

Griffin Madness!

Griffin Madness!

It’s official…the basketball season is here!  Last week, the Student Government Association sponsored our annual Griffin Madness event on Thursday, November 6.  One of the many highlights of the evening was the faculty/staff game.  Fortunately for all in attendance, the faculty/staff play was helped along with a few student-athlete participants.  MERV also joined in the action along with his friend, Chick-fil-A Cow.

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At GMercyU, we are proud of our student athletes both on and off the court.  In addition to celebrating athletic performances on the courts and fields, every year I have the happy opportunity to acknowledge the athletic team that has earned the highest cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) during the prior academic year.  Last week, I recognized the 2013-2014 Women’s Cross Country Team for earning a cumulative  3.51 GPA, the highest GPA among all the University’s 19 NCAA Division III men’s and women’s teams.

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I presented the team with the University’s scholar-athlete plaque, which now lists their team as the 2013-2014 academic winner and is permanently displayed outside the Student Services Offices in the Griffin Complex.  This year’s presentation was made even more special since the team had just won the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Championship and will advance to the NCAA Mideast Regionals at Dickenson College later this week.   Athletic Director, Keith Mondillo, had all of us chuckling as he described his “Glory Days” as a once-upon-a-time Cross Country Runner.

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(Left to right) Junior Christina Smith, Senior Simone Rudich, Senior Lauren Manzi, Senior Holly McGarrity, Sophomore Hannah Geiger and Head Coach Kevin Clark

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Of course, I am always anxious to welcome future Griffins to our campus, even though they may be years away from “official” Griffin eligibility.

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Quinn, Justin, Ava, Cate and Will Owens

Go Griffins!

MERVelous Halloween

On Halloween, Sister Kati McMahon and I visited various locations on campus and enjoyed a “reverse” trick-or-treat experience.  We passed out treats to colleagues and students, whom we met on our excursion to various buildings and locations.

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On the Eve of the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, we decided to each play a role of Catherine McAuley (before and after), founder of the Sisters of Mercy.  As we met with various groups of students, it was a great occasion to remind them of the heritage and legacy we claim as a Mercy institution of higher education.  As part of our general education curriculum, all new students participate in our First Year Experience (FYE) program, where they are introduced to Catherine McAuley and to the history and traditions of Mercy.  It was affirming to hear students say, “Oh yes, I know who you are.”

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With some trepidation we even visited the Keiss Library and Learning Commons only to be welcomed with open arms by students looking to take a break from their studies. While we visited many places, our favorite was the School of Education’s Valie Genuardi Hobbit House.  Here we encountered our pre-schoolers and colleagues, all of whom were dressed for the occasion!

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MERVelous Celebration

On Sunday, October 26th, we hosted 50-year and 25-year alumni from the classes of 1964 and 1989 for a reunion Mass and luncheon on campus.  Former roommates Maria Moore Kelly and Janine Azzarano Mohan both graduates of the School of Nursing, reminisced about their student-days, while also sharing their stories with a few of our currently enrolled students.

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Maria Moore Kelly ’87/’89 and Janine Azzarano Mohan ’87/’89/’08

I am grateful to so many of our alumni who offer to share their expertise and experiences with our students.  Special thanks to all who participate on panels, advisory boards, career services programs, mentorships, internships and so much more.  We are blessed by your ongoing involvement with your Alma Mater and our students.

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(Left to right) Students Jasmin Hall and Chelsea Kahana with alums Catherine Ambroch Owens ’64 and Teresa McKelvey Caimie ’64

Our alumna from the Class of ’64 had so many wonderful memories to share with me, including their recollections of the many Sisters of Mercy who were involved in their education and influenced their lives, e.g., Sister Denise, Sister Fenton Joseph, Sister Mary Paul, Sister Elizabeth Marie, Sister Consuelo, Sister Kevin Mary, Sister Gregory, Sister Norbert, Sister John Aloysius, and Sister Cecelia.  While there are fewer Sisters on campus these days, the charism and traditions of the Sisters of Mercy are alive and well on our campuses and it the lives of our over 18,000 alumni.

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(Back row) Helen Waugh Greenberg ’64, Catherine Ambroch Owens ’64, Teresa Caimi ’64 (Front row) Mary McFadden Paul ’64, Patricia Penrose D’Ambrosio ’64, Maria Palermo Voss ’64, Anne (Laura) Neumeister Marcoux ’64 and Margaret Coleman Covatta ’64/’94

MERVelous GMercyU Homecoming

On a recent beautiful fall weekend, the GMercyU campus was home to our annual Homecoming festivities and Fall Fest events.  Each year, Homecoming provides the appropriate time and venue to induct a new class into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame.  Athletic Director, Keith Mondillo, served as Master of Ceremonies and recounted the impressive accomplishments, both on and off the fields/courts, of the Class of 2014. I was thrilled to greet our newest Hall of Fame members!

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(Left to right) Kathy Snell ’04; Jim Algeo, on behalf of his brother, Dan Algeo ’90; Rebecca Algeo, on behalf of her father; Rashid Santiago ’07; Mark Mattes ’08

With so many different activities available for everyone in attendance, our current student-leaders needed a “time-out” from their duties.  As the photos here clearly shows, some of our students were engaged in very creative work.

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(Left to right) Erin Park, Michael Czerwonka, Migdalia Brito and Chris Selke

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Of course, Homecoming is always an invitation to our alumni to return to campus and to re-connect with faculty and friends.  Assumption Hall was the gathering site for both former and future Griffins. It was a great weekend!

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Alum Haifa Tyler ’96 (middle) and Alums Tom and Samar Froman ’95 with their families.

MERVelous Mercy Golfers

As usual, our annual Golf Outing was the scene of some outstanding shots, as well as intriguing stories of shots that were “almost” extraordinary.  This year’s event, held at Manufacturers’ Golf and Country Club, provided a glorious venue for all golfers not only to challenge their game, but also to enjoy the beauty of a Flynn-designed course.

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(Left to right) Kathy Cardano, Eileen Bahls, Trustee Regina Lowrie and Elise Johns.

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(Left to right) Trustee Frank Palopoli, Trustee Joe Palmer and Christopher Finch

The winning team, led by Ken Lawrence, graciously accepted the well-deserved accolades of all participants.  I was hoping that they might somehow transmit some of their talent and skill to me (perhaps by osmosis) in this photo but, no such luck!

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(Left to right) Noel Lowe, John Thomas, Ken Lawrence, and Ralph Major

Special thanks to our alum, Helen Pizak Nelson and her husband, Erik, for making it possible for us to enjoy the experience of Manufacturers’.

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(Left to right) Tony Mauriello, Sister Kati McMahon, Erik Nelson, Helen Pizak Nelson

We had a wonderfully successful 28th Annual Golf Outing on September 22nd, where the funds raised helped to support scholarships for our students.  Next year, with your support, we hope to involve even more sponsors and golfers in our outing so that we can continue to enable our students to achieve their goal of earning a Gwynedd Mercy University degree.  I look forward to hosting next year’s event with great hopes that my game will miraculously improve!!

MERVelous Mercy Scholars & Authors

This year’s Mercy Week (September 21-28) was filled with too many great events to describe them all, but one of the highlights was the recognition of our amazing Mercy scholars and authors.

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Back row, left to right: Roseann Regan, Denise Vanacore, Patricia Brown O’Hara, Michael Clinton, SoYoung Kang, Janis Chakars, Walt Zdunowski Middle row: Dona Molyneaux, Mary Hermann, Deborah Schadler, Michele Diehl, David McAllister, Donna Allego Front Row: Lisbeth Chapin, Robert Clewis, Ralph Hoffmann, Sister Catherine McMahon

It’s a privilege to acknowledge the scholarly excellence of so many of our distinguished faculty and staff colleagues, who are involved in scholarship at the cutting edge of their academic and professional fields.  Certainly their work reflects the commitment of Gwynedd Mercy University to prepare the next generation of Distinctive Mercy Graduates.  At this year’s celebration, the very impressive list of honorees and their contributions for the 2013-2014 years include those listed here.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of our faculty and staff colleagues who have influenced your academic and educational experience.  I know they would love to hear from you!