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APRIL 2013

Making history Rowing team breaks two world records

Inside this issue: Book tells Mercyhurst’s story Alum dives into drug research Student-athletes excel Alumni staff on world tour

From the president

Is Mercyhurst a liberal arts institution or one committed to professional preparation? If you immediately said “it’s both!” you truly grasp what Mercyhurst is all about. We don’t think it’s necessary to make “either-or” choices. We prefer the “both-and” approach. We don’t have to choose between valuing the liberal arts and providing career preparation; both have a role. We don’t have to choose between being a beautiful “ivory tower” and being engaged in the world; we can be both. We don’t have to choose between offering world-renowned academic programs and providing opportunity education; there’s a place here for both. We don’t have to choose between arts and athletics – we can do both. Not only can we do both – we do both, in Erie, in North East, at the Booker T. Washington Center, in Corry, in Taos, N. M., in Dungarvan, Ireland. Everywhere Mercyhurst goes, you can see this “both-and” approach. It’s what makes Mercyhurst special, and it’s what makes Mercyhurst graduates special. Because of their professional preparation and their engagement in the world, they are ready to contribute on the job the day they are hired. Because of their liberal arts education, they can take a broad perspective and “see around the corner,” a crucial skill in the fast-changing work world. Because of the emphasis on service in their education, they take responsibility and demonstrate leadership. This is the vision of a Mercyhurst education. Everything we do is focused on the reconciliation of these apparent opposites to help create the well-balanced, thoughtful, vital and ethical leaders of tomorrow. The student-athletes who organized last month’s EnduROWthon are a great example. They study in some of our most demanding programs, and they compete successfully with top rowing teams at places like the Dad Vail and Henley regattas. But they went even further, meticulously organizing the 24-hour drive that set Erie’s first Guinness World Records. In the process, they raised funds not only for their own trips, but also for the John Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and Project Kenya. From the quiet overnight hours when the rowers doggedly pursued their goal to the raucous final hours when the whole campus was caught up in the quest, I couldn’t have been prouder of our students. But that’s just one example of what Mercyhurst students are doing. I hope you’ll read through this magazine to see what other students and alumni have been up to. Then please stay connected with us between issues by checking out our revamped website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. God bless you, and God bless Mercyhurst.

Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D. President, Mercyhurst University 1

In this issue

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


Susan Corbran ’73 (814) 824-2090

1 From the president 3 The Brotherhood of the River The Mercyhurst EnduROWthon 6 From the alumni association president

Contributing Writers

7 Double life Professor’s careers in classroom and in military

Abby Badach, Susan Corbran ’73, David Leisering ’01, Deborah Morton, Brian Vail

9 Playing it safe New tactics in sports injury treatment

Art Direction/Design

11 Sea change: New frontiers for drug research 13 Foundations of a university The Mercyhurst story 15 Spirits of the angry dead Rights activist seeks peace 17 Lakers excel as students and athletes 18 Saints succeed 19 Alumni authors on shelves Books written by ‘Hurst graduates

Jennifer Cassano (814) 824-3022

Vice President for External Affairs

Monsignor David Rubino, Ph.D. (814) 824-3034

Assistant Vice President for Advancement

24 Alumni relations world tour

Ryan Palm ’07 (800) 845-8568   (814) 824-3320  

25 Alumni notes

Director, Alumni Relations

21 Campus news

Tamara Walters (814) 824-3350

Class Notes Editor

Debra Tarasovitch (814) 824-2392 We’d love to hear from you. Send your story ideas, suggestions and comments to

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Get more of the story, watch additional video content, check out photo albums and hear interviews online when you see this logo. Go to

Send changes of address to: Mercyhurst Magazine Mercyhurst University 501 E. 38th St. Erie, PA 16546


The Brotherhood

of the River

One team, 451,879 meters and an extraordinary test of endurance Story by Abby Badach

Two minutes remained between the Mercyhurst men’s rowing team and a world record. Hundreds of students rushed the stage, flooding the Mercyhurst Athletic Center stage with chants: “Row! Row! Row!” And row, these 10 student-athletes did – for 24 straight hours, all the way to an official Guinness World Record. “I don’t know if my body’s ever been to this point before,” said senior exercise science major Jake Schuppe, who rowed the final 30 seconds. Schuppe is no stranger to endurance events. He’s competed in 24-hour mountain bike relays, but even that doesn’t compare. “With the atmosphere that my team created, we pushed ourselves so far past any perceivable limit we ever thought we’d even get close to,” he said. “My body is in shambles – but, you know what? It was phenomenal. And I’d happily do it again.” This a story of how adrenaline slays fatigue. This is the ultimate display of teamwork. 3

This is the Mercyhurst EnduROWthon. On March 7-8, 10 student-athletes from the men’s rowing team rowed 451,879 meters to break a record for the greatest distance rowed by a lightweight men’s small team on an indoor Concept II rowing machine in a 24-hour period. The previous record of 405,000 was set in December 2008 by a Hungarian club rowing team. Student organizers dubbed the event the “Mercyless EnduROWthon.” It transformed the MAC into a 24-hour madhouse of whirring ergs, cheering students and a tsunami of energy. In addition to setting a Guinness record, the men’s team also set a record adjudicated through Concept II. “It was nuts. It was unbelievable,” said junior computer systems major and team captain Xavier Alexander. “I’m so glad I’m a part of this team, and I’m so proud of my guys.” To clinch the distance record, the men’s team rotated on the erg for 30-second, full-intensity shifts. The machine’s flywheel had to remain spinning for the record to be legitimate, so man-to-man transitions had to be flawless. After 4 minutes and 30 seconds to recuperate, each rower was back on the erg. The overnight shift allowed one rower at a time to take a 40-minute nap break, challenging the remaining nine to up their intensity. But they powered through for 24 hours to make history. “That was probably one of the most painful experiences I’ve been in for a while,” Schuppe said. “But as soon as it was over, there was just a rush of emotions. The cheering from the crowd, all of my teammates slapping me on the back, hugging me, congratulating me – it was euphoric.” And as if one world record weren’t enough, the EnduROWthon broke two. Across the stage from the men’s varsity team was another rowing machine, on which 600 people took shifts to shatter the world record for most people to row 500 meters on a single erg in 24 hours. Mercyhurst students, faculty, administrators and staff – even Louie the Laker – hopped on to take a turn, as did people from the Erie community. For Jeff Murt, a senior intelligence studies major and rower, the most powerful moment of the EnduROWthon wasn’t with his varsity team. In the quiet depth of the overnight shift, a young boy with cerebral palsy got to do his part. The boy came with his mother at 4 a.m., took a seat on the erg and rowed his way into the record books. “His mother was in tears – it was a very powerful thing to see,” Murt said. “Honestly, even though the men’s varsity team broke the record, giving that little boy a chance to be a part of something so huge, that made this whole thing worth it.” The EnduROWthon marked the first time a Guinness World Record had ever been set in Erie, Pa. To achieve certification, the team kept a meticulous record of all the statistics and even flew in a Guinness judge from England to oversee the event.


Nearly 300 people packed the MAC to cheer on all the rowers to the finish – including Allan Belovarac, Ph.D., Mercyhurst history professor and a member and coach of the rowing team in its early years. Back in the 1970s, faces in the regatta crowds were “mainly parents and girlfriends,” he recalls. The EnduROWthon introduced hundreds of folks to the sport. But a rower doesn’t count faces in the stands. He looks within himself. He looks to his team. “You’re kind of a part of this ‘brotherhood of the river’ – it’s almost like being in a fraternity,” Belovarac said. “All of these guys for the rest of their lives cross a bridge or come to a body of water, and one of the first things to come to their mind will be, ‘That would be a great place to row.’ It gets in your blood. You never get out of it.” Through donations, sponsorships and raffles, the EnduROWthon helped raise $5,300 for Project Kenya, the John C. Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and the rowing team, as they travel nationally and internationally to compete. With a schedule that includes Penn, Columbia, Cornell and MIT,  Mercyhurst men’s rowing has achieved considerable success in recent years. In 2012, the men’s varsity lightweight eight team finished the campaign ranked 10th in the U.S. Rowing Collegiate Poll, and for the third consecutive year captured gold at the prestigious Dad Vail Regatta. Achieving world record status at the EnduROWthon set the tone for this team’s commitment to each other and to the sport of rowing at Mercyhurst. “It feels almost euphoric,” said coach Adrian Spracklen ‘90. “I didn’t know how I’d feel when we finished, because it’s not a race. It’s not a competition. But … I feel very proud. I feel proud for the rowers. I feel proud for the school – because we’ve done something that no one else has done, and we did it at Mercyhurst.” EnduROWthon Team: Kevon Bridges Jake Schuppe Xavier Alexander Ivan Palikuca Sam Rouse Milos Veres Gary Loo Jonathan Blazevic Marcin Osajda Dave Cullmer

So how far is 451,879 meters, anyway? Here are a few comparisons to help you put it in perspective:

• More than 280 miles • Nearly 5 times the width of Lake Erie • More than 21 trips around Presque Isle • More than 7 times the length of the Panama Canal • 4,118 football fields 5


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From the alumni

association president Dear fellow Lakers: A fantastic time of year! Spring is in the air and the end of the school year seems to be right around the corner. For many Mercyhurst students it signifies graduation, the end of an episode, and the commencement of all that is yet to come in their continuing journey. For the Mercyhurst University Alumni Association, it means the addition of close to 1,000 new members representing the Mercy mission, spirit and ideals throughout the world. This year we will have more than 19,000 alumni living and working in all 50 states and in more than 40 countries around the world. Our alumni are impacting all facets of the world: social services, government, education, hospitality, fashion, business, military, ministry, sports, law enforcement, anthropology, medicine, the arts. No doubt that Mercyhurst University is influencing the world and making a difference! A goal of the Mercyhurst University Alumni Association is to keep all of the 19,000+ alumni connected and engaged with the university beyond graduation – no matter where you may be living. One way in which we do this is to provide opportunities for local and regional events where alumni gather to reminisce, network and renew and/or maintain friendships. Visit the alumni events website ( to see where events for the current World Tour are scheduled. Other events bring alumni back to campus, such as the annual Homecoming/Family Weekend and Reunion Weekend. While these gatherings provide an occasion to enjoy the many diverse aspects of the campus, the front gates are always open for returning alumni. Reunion Weekend 2013 is scheduled for May 31 to June 2. Mark your calendar now to join us, especially if your class is celebrating a milestone reunion this year. Registration options and more information are also available online at While you’re on the alumni website, make sure to download one of our new Mercyhurstthemed wallpapers for desktops, tablets and smartphones. View all the available images at On behalf of the entire Alumni Association Board of Directors, we invite you to stay connected and engaged with us as we move into the future of Mercyhurst. If you have ideas about how to better do this, or to help alumni connect and network, let us know – we want to hear from you! Carpe diem.

Matthew Robaszkiewicz ’88, president Mercyhurst University National Alumni Association Stay connected: • Visit the university website • Join the online Alumni Community • Visit us on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin Matthew Robaszkiewicz’s column appears regularly on Hurst Happenings, the alumni blog.


Leading a double life Story by Sue Corbran

When Allan Belovarac steps to the podium to teach “War in the Western World” this term, he brings with him background that not many history professors can claim – 28 years of experience as an intelligence specialist in the U.S. Naval Reserve. A “Mercyhurst lifer,” Belovarac says he’s worked at least part time at his alma mater ever since his 1973 graduation. For most of that time, he’s had a parallel career in naval intelligence. Belovarac arrived at Mercyhurst in 1971 as a junior transfer and quickly settled into the school’s history department and its brand-new rowing program. Belovarac had never rowed before, though he’d been at home on the water since childhood. He made history as part of the first Laker crew to win a race, beating Buffalo State and the Canisius novice team in October 1971. After graduation, he returned as an assistant coach, became head coach in 1979, and guided the program through its growth phase until 1986. Though he enjoyed his history studies, he never expected to teach the subject, “not in my wildest dreams.” He earned a master’s degree in history from Case Western Reserve, but found himself drawn instead to college administration. While continuing to coach the rowing team, he served Mercyhurst as registrar, director of institutional research and more. In 1979 he was asked to don one more hat and teach a few history courses. He discovered it wasn’t as bad as he’d imagined. Though he says he’s basically very shy, throw him in front of a classroom and he turns into a dynamic lecturer. History is the mother of all disciplines, he believes, and he enjoys nothing more than helping students connect the lessons of the past to the world around them today.



In the Navy Coming from a family with a long Navy history, Belovarac once dreamed of entering the U.S. Naval Academy. While in grad school at Case, he pursued the next best thing – a commission in the Naval Reserve – until his trademark thick glasses eventually proved his undoing. Though he was deeply disappointed by his disqualification, he can laugh about it now. “Don’t they know that Admiral Nelson was blind in one eye?” he asks, “or that Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill wearing glasses?” Years later, Belovarac found another route to naval service, signing on as an enlisted man in 1984. But by this time he had earned a Ph.D. in higher education at the University of Buffalo and his new bosses quickly realized his background in analysis and writing suited him for naval intelligence. Belovarac’s skills paved the way to his enlistment as a second-class petty officer and intel specialist. After two years of training, he received a direct commission as an ensign in December 1986. During monthly weekend drills and summer assignments lasting several weeks, he did the same kind of work done by regular Navy personnel. Should trouble erupt, the Navy needed a complete picture of the area, from the spots where helicopters could land to the lines of communication available. So his unit might be called on study the region. His specialty was photo imagery. That kind of work is computerized now, but in those days he worked with slide rules, calculating distances by analyzing shadows and objects of known sizes. Over the years, he rose through the ranks to commander, served missions around the world (most notably in Japan and Malta) and earned a variety of commendations. He also added to his academic credentials, earning a master’s in strategic intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College, where his dissertation on the rising naval power of China was chosen outstanding thesis. Reserve units have to be ready to respond on short notice in the event of an emergency. Several times that has meant call-ups for weeks or months of full-time service. He was mobilized for the first Iraqi war in 1991, working from a base in Norfolk to feed intelligence to the front lines during the invasion of Kuwait. In 1996 he was recalled to support the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. In the aftermath of 9-11 he helped coordinate the sharing of intelligence between the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. naval command in the area. Most recently Belovarac returned to Japan to help set up a Crisis Action Center for U.S. Forces Japan after the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011.

Belovarac is married to Lee Pitonyak Belovarac, a 1974 Mercyhurst graduate who now teaches in the Walker School of Business. Their son Brian is a Syracuse University graduate now working for Janus Films in New York, and Brendan is finishing a master’s degree at American University and was recently accepted to medical school.

Retirement ahead Regulations call for naval reserve officers to retire when they hit 60, so this chapter of Belovarac’s story closed last summer. There are no similar limits for college professors, but he expects to retire from Mercyhurst at the close of fall term. His “retirement” years are likely to be anything but relaxing, though. He’s become involved with the unique sport of solo sailing as a member of the Great Lakes Single-Handed Society, open only to sailors who’ve completed one of its daunting Great Lakes challenges. A single sailor mans the boat 24/7 and must complete the lengthy courses without pulling into port or receiving assistance of any kind. His goal is to finish a challenge on each of the Great Lakes and he’s already completed Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. He hopes to conquer Lake Huron this summer. Last summer he earned the Perseverance Cup, awarded to the solo sailor who copes with the greatest adversity. During his Ontario sail, his spinnaker halyard broke in the middle of the night in 20-knot winds, the self-steering system went out, the toilet holding tank overflowed, and he got caught in a line of squalls. Closer to home, Belovarac wants to get involved again on the volunteer crew of the Brig Niagara. He was part of the first crew that sailed Niagara in 1991. “I like the smell of tar and sawdust,” he explains. “I love it when the ship comes alive and wind fills the sails.” On land, Belovarac is also a member of the Ski Patrol at Peek ‘ n Peak Ski Resort and continues to pursue advanced training in skiing techniques and in toboggan rescues of injured skiers. It sounds like a demanding schedule, but Belovarac has a simple philosophy. “God’s given us this time on earth and we ought to take advantage of all the gifts He’s put there for us.” Or, in words attributed to his hero, Teddy Roosevelt, we need “to warm both hands over the fire of life.”


Playing it safe

‘Hurst team shows NFL

new treatment protocol

Story by Abby Badach

All college students expect to have research projects under their belts before they graduate. But scoring a chance to present that research to the NFL? That’s taking it to the next level. Mercyhurst graduate student Jacob Gdovin and his faculty adviser, Bradley Jacobson, chair of the Sportsmedicine Department, spent last summer presenting their research regarding on-field injury management of players with possible spinal injuries to the medical staffs of NFL teams. In collaboration with Mike Cendoma, CEO of Sports Medicine Concepts of Livonia, N.Y., the pair took their research to NFL neurosurgeons, athletic trainers, team physicians and paramedics in an all-day, hands-on laboratory presentation. They worked with the New York Giants, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and the Dallas Cowboys – which happens to be the team Gdovin has rooted for since he was a boy. “I was there as a professional, so I had business to take care of,” he said. “But inside? I was like a little kid, just taking in the sights and sounds. It was a dream come true. I’m 23 years old, and I’m out teaching the medical staff for the Dallas Cowboys right on their home turf. It was quite an experience.”

Picture this scenario that’s bound to happen in a full-contact sport: A football player takes a hard hit and falls to his back. His helmet comes off. The medical team rushes in, suspecting that he has injured his cervical spine – the vertebrae between his shoulders and the base of his skull. One wrong move could cause career-ending or life-threatening conditions, including paralysis. Medical professionals on the field have to proceed carefully to minimize movement of the cervical spine as they care for the injured athlete. So, what’s the best way to treat such a delicate injury that minimizes movement of the affected area? Jacobson and Gdovin aimed to find out, collecting data on two different methods. The standard protocol is dubbed the “all-or-nothing endeavor.” Picture that downed football player again. He’s without a helmet, but his bulky shoulder pads are still on, which lift his torso up and tilt his head down toward the ground. The National Athletic Trainer Association recommends that the shoulder pads also be removed so the athlete’s neck can return to a more neutral position. Jacobson and Gdovin, however, proposed a different option, which they call the “pack-and-fill.” Under this protocol, the athlete’s shoulder pads stay on and the void underneath the head is filled with towels to reduce movement and keep the cervical spine in a neutral position. They thought that keeping the shoulder pads on would reduce movement of the affected area and help protect the injured athlete from further injury.


Their research backed it up. “The amount of movement between the head and the torso was significantly less,” Jacobson said. “In essence, it’s a simple concept. Our research demonstrated a safer protocol to use instead of the all-or-nothing endeavor.” The faculty-student duo collected data at the Movement Analysis Laboratory at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Erie. The lab, under the direction of Kevin M. Cooney, PT, and biomechanist Dustin Bruening, Ph.D., uses high-tech motion sensor cameras that track reflective markers placed on the body to measure the person’s movement. The highly accurate technology is similar to that used in video games, or the motion-capture equipment that transferred real humans’ dance steps to penguin waddles in the hit movie Happy Feet. “Skin-based anatomical marker tracking is the closest we can get to clinically replicating movement at this time,” Cooney said. “When the cameras track the markers, they collect very accurately, to the millimeter, the movement that occurred.” The research project stemmed from Gdovin’s required undergraduate baccalaureate research project – a mini-thesis of sorts, required of all sportsmedicine students since 2002. He collaborated with Jacobson from the beginning, with the goal of getting their findings published. They submitted a manuscript to the Journal of Athletic Training, which was approved in 2012 and is slated for publication this summer. The pair plans to tackle more research together over the summer. Gdovin is completing a graduate assistantship with Cooney at the Movement Analysis Lab and will graduate from Mercyhurst this spring with a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in human resources. “He’s very professional and extremely thorough,” Cooney said. “He’s easygoing but disciplined and he’ll get the job done. He’s going to go places in his career.” In the fall, Gdovin will be back on campus to start graduate studies in exercise science. His dream job is to become an orthopedic surgeon for an NFL team. With the hands-on education he received at Mercyhurst, he says he’s confident he’ll get there. “The OL program helped me study business management and leadership, giving me a sense of what it would be like to lead a team of future health professionals,” Gdovin said. “The exercise science program will help me learn the skills I’ll need in my field, and help me to go on to succeed in medical school.” Jacobson said he’s grateful to be a part of a university that supports hands-on applications for students and faculty alike. “The administration here at Mercyhurst has been very supportive of providing opportunities through equipment, laboratories, research contracts for faculty members and research assistantships for students,” he said. “When you think of why we do research, it’s to benefit somebody. It’s beneficial for the community – and for the athletes whose health and well-being will be improved because of the improved healthcare that’s provided to them.”

Kevin M. Cooney, Bradley Jacobson, Jacob Gdovin 10

Sea change: New frontiers

for drug research Story by Sue Corbran

Kevin Tidgewell escaped Pennsylvania’s dreary winter weather in January for two and a half weeks to sunny Panama and a series of dives in warm Caribbean waters. The scenery was gorgeous, the water teemed with diverse species, but Tidgewell was no tourist.

Dr. Ron Brown, now the chair of Mercyhurst’s Chemistry Department, says Tidgewell was one of the first students he met when he joined the faculty in 1999, and he left quite an impression. “I remember being very excited to have the opportunity to work with a student of Kevin’s abilities,” he recalled. “I have always felt that the biggest reward of being a Mercyhurst professor is witnessing the transformation that takes place in our students between that meeting as freshmen and when they graduate.” He’s proud that Tidgewell has remained in close contact as an alumnus, including returning to speak with current students. “I would like to believe this is because of the experiences that he gained here, and his desire to draw upon the tradition of strong faculty-student mentorship present at Mercyhurst in his current position,” he said. Tidgewell still keeps tabs on the Lakers lacrosse team as they contend for national titles and returned for Homecoming last fall to play in the alumni lacrosse game. During that visit, he also stopped in to check out the new lacrosse locker room, which includes a locker he sponsored during the Legacy Campaign.



It was a business trip for the 2003 Mercyhurst graduate, who has spent much of his career searching for marine compounds that might one day help those suffering from pain and disease. He’s continuing that research now at Duquesne University, where he was appointed assistant professor of medicinal chemistry last fall. With the widest variety of living organisms on earth, the oceans may well be the latest frontier for medical research. Tidgewell was hunting for cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae or pond scum) and returned to Pittsburgh with enough to propel his research for several months. The raw material isn’t glamorous. It looks a bit like hair or limp seaweed, feels a bit slimy and looks pretty gross. When Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World series featured Tidgewell’s work, the narrator said cyanobacteria looked like “marine snot.” But back in his lab, using state-of-the-art nuclear magnetic resonance and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry instruments, he hopes to isolate from the cyanobacteria compounds that could lead to advances in pain relief and addiction treatment. How and why do his test compounds react with pain receptors in the human brain? That’s the riddle he’s trying to solve. Though it’s far from the ocean depths where he finds his raw materials, Tidgewell says Duquesne is a good fit for him because of its focus on pain studies. In addition to teaching medicinal chemistry courses in the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Mylan School of Pharmacy, he’s part of the Chronic Pain Research Consortium (CPRC), collaborating with scientists from many disciplines to better understand and treat disorders of the central nervous system.

compound disappeared within minutes once the garlic clove was cracked, though, so they looked for a way to stabilize it and harness its healing potential. But a summer at the University of Florida in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) convinced him he wanted to get out from behind the desk. He continued to study natural products while earning his doctorate at the University of Iowa, where his mentor, Dr. Thomas E. Prisinzano, sought treatments for pain that wouldn’t cause drug dependence. Later, as a post-doctoral fellow with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he worked in Dr. William Gerwick’s lab at the University of San Diego. There his focus turned to drug discovery from the ocean, primarily looking for cancer-fighting drugs. After about two and half years in San Diego, he accepted another post-doc assignment in Panama with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, still affiliated with the Gerwick lab. In an unspoiled wilderness, he found a rich hunting ground for materials that might one day help treat both cancer and neglected tropical diseases like malaria and leishmaniasis. The work involved frequent scuba excursions – not as much fun as it might sound for Tidgewell, who had a deep aversion to water after nearly drowning when he was just 2. Though he grew up in Southern California, he pretty much avoided the ocean until the demands of science forced him to conquer his fear and now he is as comfortable underwater as on land. When he headed to Duquesne, a new post-doc took his place in Panama, but Tidgewell still intends to return about twice a year to obtain his own lab samples.

A native of Irvine in Southern California, Tidgewell was recruited to join Mercyhurst’s lacrosse program in fall of 1999. His teams never finished out of the Top 10, and he capped his career with an appearance in the NCAA Final Four.

He’s found his research home in medicinal and natural products chemistry with its focus on developing and testing compounds. He calls it “chemistry with a purpose.” And he believes it’s important to act quickly. “Due to problems with ocean acidification and pollution, species are disappearing every day,” he says. “We need to find them before they’re gone.”

His success in the classroom was just as memorable. Tidgewell knew he wanted to major in chemistry and focused on computational chemistry and math at the Hurst. He worked with Dr. Candee Chambers to investigate a sulfur compound released by garlic that seemed to have some medicinal properties. The

He doesn’t measure success only in terms of drug patents, noting that it can take years, even decades, to shepherd a new product through animal and human trials to actual use. “But if I can go and discover a tool to better understand pain or addiction or depression, that’s a win.”

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Foundations of a university Story by Sue Corbran

New book chronicles Mercyhurst history from its founding to 2000 Roy Strausbaugh, Ph.D., is a specialist in European history, but his latest book tackles a subject much closer to home – the founding and development of Mercyhurst University. The Foundations of a University: Mercyhurst in the Twentieth Century, researched and written over the past six years, is now available for purchase in bookstores on Mercyhurst’s Erie and North East campuses. Strausbaugh approached Mercyhurst President Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D., early in his tenure to suggest that Mercyhurst needed to create a comprehensive history. The last major history of Mercyhurst was compiled by Sister M. Eustace Taylor, RSM, Ph.D., in 1976 when the college celebrated its 50th anniversary. Mother Eustace was personally involved in the history she wrote about. A member of Mercyhurst’s first graduating class in 1929, she taught at the school for decades and served a term as its president in the late 1950s. More recently, another history professor, Michael McQuillen, Ph.D., began compiling a Mercyhurst history, but had to cut the project short when he was appointed Mercyhurst’s president in 2005. Strausbaugh was uniquely suited to take on the task of chronicling ‘Hurst history. He had worked at Mercyhurst since 1994, serving in a variety of roles from director of libraries to academic dean at Mercyhurst North East. He’s now a visiting professor of history. He earned his doctorate at Case Western Reserve University. This was a second career for Strausbaugh, who had already retired from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania as a tenured professor of history. While there, he wrote his first college history, Edinboro University, Administrative History, 1963-1993. More recently, he had served as a trustee and board chair at Greenville’s Thiel College, an experience that helped him better understand the operations of small, church-related, liberal arts colleges.

Strausbaugh started with the accounts compiled by Mother Eustace and McQuillen and documented them through primary sources. He turned to self-study documents and evaluations from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; minutes of the board of trustees; papers left by Sister Carolyn Herrmann and Sister M. Charles Weschler, among others; and accounts from the Merciad student newspaper. Mother Borgia Egan and others of the “Pioneer Sisters” left memoirs about the founding of the school. He reviewed those, as well as oral history interviews with prominent figures in Mercyhurst’s development, recorded by former Erie Morning News Managing Editor Larie Pintea in the early 1990s. Strausbaugh credits both Earleen Glaser, the Mercyhurst University archivist, and Sister M. Edith Langiotti, RSM, archivist for the Erie community of the Sisters of Mercy, for assistance in accessing these sources. He dedicates the volume to “the Sisters of Mercy who founded, brought to life and guided Mercyhurst College.” “No story of Mercyhurst can be told without understanding the contributions of the Sisters of Mercy, their labor, love, and passion for this college,” he adds. But as the decades passed, forces beyond the control of the Sisters helped shape the school’s direction. Throughout, Strausbaugh tries to show how events at the college mirrored changes in American higher education, the church and society itself. The narrative ends around the turn of the 21st century. “A historian is not a journalist,” Strausbaugh concluded. “For good history to be written, it is better that some time pass and perspective be gained. And so, another historian, down the road, will be better positioned to assess the transition to university status in the years since 2000.” The 430-page volume includes 12 pages of black-and-white photos from the Sister Mary Lawrence Franklin Archives at Mercyhurst. It is available for sale in the Mercyhurst bookstores at Erie and North East. The book sells for $30, but is currently on special at $24. You can also order it online at


Going coed Since 1962, the cooperative program with Gannon had brought men to the campus and sent Mercyhurst women to Gannon. … In 1967, when Mercyhurst went to a three-term system, coordinating an exchange of students with Gannon created scheduling problems. After almost two years of frustration, Mercyhurst accepted men in the exchange program as full-time students. In this way these men could obtain their courses in the major field. By the spring of 1969, there were some twelve full-time male commuter students at Mercyhurst. It was more than “coed drift”; by the fall of 1968 it was de facto coeducation. The final decision was to accept what Mercyhurst was doing and, for financial survival, move to the deliberate recruitment of male students. The board’s choices were simple, remain a woman’s college and tolerate a few men, or “break with tradition and become coeducational.” In making this decision, another reality had to be faced. The enrollment of the college was declining at a time when most colleges were growing quite well. Influenced by the women’s movement and the need to have skills to compete with men in the workplace, women were transferring from women’s colleges to coeducational institutions at an increasing rate. The Registrar’s Office reported that this was happening at Mercyhurst. While the baby boomers were entering higher education in increasing numbers, Mercyhurst was losing out. The 1968/1969 fiscal year ended with a deficit of $35,753. The financial perils of remaining a women’s college were there for all to see. During four months beginning in late 1968, the college devoted itself to an intensive study of the issue. With the direction of the administration, the issue was considered by students, faculty, administration and the advisory board. The majority in most constituencies of the school strongly supported and recommended the change, except for students. They were evenly split. The administration’s findings were submitted to the trustees. The board, made up of seven Sisters of Mercy and two laymen, agreed. Sister Carolyn announced the trustees’ decision on February 5, 1969, the day after the trustees had voted. … Because of changing roles of women in society, coeducation was more realistic. “Monosexual (sic) education … imposed … unnecessary limitations on a student’s educational experience.” The decision was not one that all stakeholders accepted. Sister Carolyn reflected years later that not enough groundwork had been done with the alumnae, especially the older graduates. Not all of the Sisters were in favor of this decision, nor were all of the faculty and upper class students enthused. Negative feelings about the decision lasted for years. As Sister Carolyn said, “…the realities impelled us.” To her it was a matter of saving Mercyhurst. – From Chapter 5, “A New and Different Mercyhurst: 1966-1972.”


Calming spirits

of the angry dead Armed with the skill sets of this pioneering program, the distinguished human rights activist intends to return to her native Zimbabwe and resume a crusade that, at its heart, is the pursuit of healing. Story by Debbie Morton 15

Zimbabwe is rife with tragedy; the human wreckage of three eras of political violence is widespread and the spirits are angry. No more so than Shari Eppel, whose anger has driven the human rights work of this 50-something psychologist for two decades. Eppel has taken a one-year sabbatical from her post as executive director of the Solidarity Peace Trust, which assists victims of human rights abuses in their efforts to end the oppression, so that she may earn her master’s degree in forensic and biological anthropology at Mercyhurst University. Armed with the skill sets of this pioneering program, the distinguished human rights activist intends to return to her native Zimbabwe and resume a crusade that, at its heart, is the pursuit of healing. She is a serious woman on a serious mission. She knows hers is a job that may never be done, but she does it for Edwell and for the tens of thousands of victims like him. Edwell was 19 when soldiers nailed him to a tree and savagely beat him to death. Adding indignity on top of horror, they shoved his body in an ant-bear hole – a final resting place reserved for dogs – in a nearby schoolyard. “The children run on his head every day,” his mother lamented to Eppel one afternoon. “How can he rest?” Across her African homeland, especially in its remote villages, Eppel is privy to whispered stories of the wrath of ancestral spirits. “In African culture, the spirits of the angry dead are an overpowering weight in people’s lives and there’s a fatalism linked to that,” she said. “If you don’t properly honor and bury your dead, it is believed that bad luck will befall you, your family and your community.” For much of the past 20 years, Eppel has documented Zimbabwe’s political violence, most recently under the Robert Mugabe regime. She has done interviews, written journal articles and disseminated her findings to policymakers worldwide to sway public opinion on Zimbabwe. “There is such a lack of accountability for all the bad things that have happened in Zimbabwe,” Eppel said. “We are dealing with dead, tortured and displaced people. There needs to be an end to the human rights violations and to the impunity.”

In her quest to right the wrongs, Eppel and her group have put themselves at risk, facing staff arrests and raids on their offices. One of her colleagues “disappeared” and has not been seen in a year. Fortunately, her children, Ben, Joe and Ruth, no longer live in Zimbabwe, although Paul Themba Nyathi, the man she calls her “life partner” and describes as a “fearless activist,” remains behind. She worries, but not for herself. “People are afraid to step up and lead for fear of reprisals,” Eppel said. “I am more angry than afraid. Being white protects me. I’m the only white person in our organization (of 17) and am less likely to be targeted. Still none of us has it in our blood to capitulate to the state.” So, they go on, deftly tending to the emotional needs of the tortured while locating and chronicling histories of mass graves. Eppel instituted a program of exhumations and reburials in response to pleas like those of Edwell’s mother, but bouts of political violence frequently disrupted her efforts. In her pursuit to perform scientifically accurate exhumations, she received training from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, the foremost human rights organization in the world, and later met with one of its prominent international lecturers, Mercyhurst forensic anthropologist Steven Symes, Ph.D., who convinced her that Mercyhurst’s master’s degree program would further empower her efforts. “The Argentineans told me that Mercyhurst’s program was the best, and they were right,” she said. “It’s been brilliantly helpful.” As Zimbabwe now faces a new political era, with a possible change in government being more concordant with Eppel’s own mission, she decided it was time to retrain so that she would be ready to resume her work when obstacles became less dangerous. Eppel’s Mercyhurst training focuses on scientific procedures for identifying graves and removing remains; analyzing bones to determine sex, height, age and ethnicity of skeletons; identifying signs of trauma and documenting evidence that may one day lead to securing justice for the victims and their families. As her mission moves from documentation to intervention to healing, she finds herself on a continuum where the worlds of the living and the dead ultimately intersect. “Exhumation and reburials are part of empowering the people,” Eppel said. “The right to mourn your dead is a moral right. If we are to have any chance at all of bringing peace to the living, we have to bring peace to the dead.”

Shari Eppel’s children, Joe and Ruth, with Edwell’s mother, Ma Ndlovu, at his reburial site in Zimbabwe. 16

Lakers excel as students and athletes Both Laker hockey teams had exciting postseason runs. The women won the College Hockey America tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the ninth straight year. After knocking off #2 seed Cornell to reach the Frozen Four for the third time in program history, the Lakers fell to Boston University in the semifinals. Christine Bestland was CHA Player of the Year and Stephanie Ciampa was named CHA Tournament MVP.

Women’s basketball advanced to the PSAC Tournament for the first time since 2011. Kaylee Foster led the team with 11.1 points per game, finishing her career with the ninth-best field goal percentage in school history. Dana Banda wrapped up her career with 381 assists, the second-most in program history. Men’s soccer advanced to the NCAA Final Four for the first time since 2002, winning its first PSAC Championship in the process. Alex Manea was chosen Daktronics Regional Player of the Year.

Senior forward Gina Buquet won the Elite 89 award at the Division I national women’s hockey tournament. She was Mercyhurst’s fifth winner of the Elite 89, given to the athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each NCAA championship. Previous honorees were Vicki Bendus (also of women’s hockey), Bethany Brun (women’s rowing, a two-time winner) and Ian Wild (men’s lacrosse). The men’s hockey team beat Army, Holy Cross and Connecticut on its way to the title game in the Atlantic Hockey Association tournament before losing to Canisius. Luis Leao of the men’s basketball team has been selected to the 2012-13 National Association of Basketball Coaches AllAmerica Team, the first Laker in program history to earn the honor. Earlier, Leao put up 18.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game as the men’s basketball team qualified for the PSAC Tournament for the fourth straight season. A native of Brazil, he was the PSAC Western Division Athlete of the Year and was named to the Capital One Academic All-America First Team – also the first studentathlete in program history to win those honors.


ESPN’s SportsCenter featured junior Jonathan Ouegnin on its Feb. 21 “Top 10 Plays” list for his dunk in a win over rival Gannon.

The football team won the PSAC West for the second time in three seasons. Quarterback Anthony Vendemia was selected for the PSAC Fall Top Ten list, while running back Brandon Brown-Dukes was the PSAC West Freshman of the Year. Men’s water polo had its best season in program history, winning 23 games and qualifying for Easterns for the first time ever. The Lakers finished the season ranked 17th in the country, and Brett Luehmann was national co-player of the year after breaking Mercyhurst’s career points record. Volleyball made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009 and Elyse Texido was named the PSAC West Defensive Player of the Year. Jake Pilarski and Kristen Vidmar of the golf team were both honored as PSAC Champion Scholar Athletes for earning the highest GPA among studentathletes competing in the conference championship. Mercyhurst posted an Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 82 percent for freshmen enrolled 2002-2005, above both the 78 percent average of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the 72 percent national average for student-athletes.

Twelve members of the field hockey team were named to the 2012 Gladiator by SGI/NFHCA Division II National Academic Squad, with seniors Megan Richards and Jessica Richards both finishing their careers as fourtime honorees. Meghan Smith was named a Scholar of Distinction with a cumulative grade point average above 3.9. Wrestling won the Division II Academic National Championship, recording the highest team GPA in the nation. The Lakers earned a 3.379 team GPA and landed eight student-athletes on the AllAcademic Team. Wrestler Ryan Bohince earned All-America honors at nationals, finishing seventh in the 125-pound weight class. He went 35-7 in his freshman season. Teammate Dylan D’Urso took the Most Technical Falls Award at nationals after having 11 total technical falls this season, the most in Division II. Coach Mike Wehler was named the Division II Bob Bubb Coaching Excellence Award. For details on these and other achievements by Laker student-athletes, visit

Saints succeed The new women’s swim program was honored as most improved team at the Region III Championships. Freshman Destine Godfrey won three individual events and was named 2013 Region III Female Swimmer of the meet. At the NJCAA national championships in March, Godfrey brought home All-American honors by placing 6th in the 200 Individual Medley. Several individual swimmers and relay teams captured honorable mentions. Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams made it to the Region III, Division I playoffs. The men ended their season with a loss to Bryant and Stratton in the semifinals; the women finished as runners-up to Monroe Community College.

Laker sports camps Training the next generation of athletes. BASEBALL

July 15-17, Grades K-12 - $80


Rick Gotkin’s Laker Hockey School Aug. 5-10, all ages, no experience necessary - $200


Mike Sisti’s Elite Developmental Camp July 8-12, ages 11 and up - $825 resident $650 day camper


Individual Elite Camp July 22-25, advanced players ages 15 and up $360 overnight; $260 commuter Team Camp July 29-Aug. 1, high school and club teams $360 per player overnight, $260 per player commuter

Wrestling coach Aaron Cooper was elected to a two-year term as vice president of the National Junior College Athletic Association coaches association and was also named “Wrestling Man of the Year.” For updates on sports at North East, visit

more read watch hear

Visit for details about these and other camps planned for Summer 2013.


Alumni authors

on shelves Small Shoes

Color Blind

Camille Licate ’96 has always embraced growth and change. Now she’s shared her philosophy about coping with change in a book, Small Shoes: Outgrowing Old Relationships & Finding the Right Fit.

People today often claim proudly that they’re color blind – that they don’t even notice color when they meet someone of a different racial background. Tiffany Rae Reid ’97 believes that’s the wrong approach.

“Like shoes that once fit you so well, relationships can become too small, out of style, or just too old,” she explains. She says her book is meant to help people deal with the evolution of any relationship, whether it’s with a friend, lover, family member, money, job, belief system or life style. Dance Chair Tauna Hunter, who invited her former student back to campus to speak to today’s young dancers, called the book “a lovely way to process life’s epiphanies through a multitude of imaginative and delightful shoe metaphors.” Licate majored in dance at Mercyhurst, but studied anthropology as well. After graduation, she pursued both interests, moving to New York City where she studied and performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company and also worked as a pottery analyst for The American Museum of Natural History. She later shifted her focus to acting, performing with The Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C., before relocating to California to work as a professional actress. Her most recent film, “There Will Be ____,” will premiere at The International Film Festival in Rotterdam and The New York City Film Festival this year. She’s also pursuing screenwriting and producing, and is currently working on a film project designed to raise awareness for the endangered African Elephant. An animal lover, Licate volunteers for The California Wildlife Center and MuchLove Animal Rescue. When not working, she usually can be found blazing trails on horseback. She says that Georgia, an elderly horse she cared for, was one of her greatest teachers. Small Shoes is available on or at Licate’s e-book store, 19

“By not seeing color, you’re not honoring my history, you’re not honoring my culture and heritage, you’re not honoring the challenges and obstacles I have because of the color of my skin that you will never face,” she says. Her philosophy, born of personal experience, is simple: “Only when we can begin to acknowledge our differences can we ever begin to celebrate the similarities.” Until her mid-20s, Reid self-identified as white. She’d never met her father, a black man, and accepted her mother’s explanation that her dark complexion, curly hair and thick lips reflected her “dark Hungarian” ancestors. She eventually forged a relationship with her absentee dad and even forgave her mother for the long-running deception, but grew convinced that colorblindness – raising biracial children without regard to the significance of the color of their skin – was wrong. She tells her story in Color Blind – A Mixed Girl’s Perspective on Biracial Life, a 2011 book that’s become a powerful resource for parents raising biracial children, blended families and educators impacting multicultural classrooms. Reid earned her degree in forensic science at Mercyhurst, and then worked in corporate insurance in New York City, Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. After about a decade, she branched out to create her first company – Life Coaching with Tiffany Rae. The sideline has grown into a full-time calling, and she says she has finally found her “divine assignment” working with biracial children and their families. All her activities focus on getting and keeping people talking about what it means to be multiracial and multicultural in America today. She hosts Mixed Race Radio, acts as a race relations expert for a nationally syndicated television show, and serves as a diversity trainer and community educator. She created S.I.M.P.L.L.L.E., a community success group dedicated to Supporting Interracial & Multicultural People Living, Loving, Learning Everywhere. Besides volunteering for several nonprofits, she’s a commissioner with the Camden County Human Relations Commission and was recently accepted into the 2013 New Leaders Council (NLC) Training Institute-Philadelphia chapter. Color Blind is available from booksellers on the Web and from Reid’s own website,

65 West 55th Street Gagan Suri ’96 describes his new novel, 65 West 55th Street, as a fictionalized memoir. The title is the address in New York City where he met his wife, Sarah, on a blind date. “The address marks the start of my journey with my soul mate, my best friend,” he says. That journey wasn’t always easy for Gagan and Sarah – or for their counterparts in the novel, Karan and Zeina. Gagan and Sarah grew up on different sides of the long-simmering feud between India and Pakistan. Hostility between the two nations dates back to 1947, when Pakistan was carved out of India, and has erupted in three major wars in the decades since. It took several years for their families to accept and bless their relationship. “Fighting to be with her was the best decision of my life,” Suri says. “But the story is not just about an Indian and a Pakistani. It is not just about a Hindu and a Muslim. The story extends to any two people with varied backgrounds who love each other.” Born and raised in India, Gagan Suri graduated from the Indian Institute of Hotel Management in New Delhi before moving to the U.S. and enrolling at Mercyhurst. After several years in the hotel industry with Hyatt Hotels, he headed to Canada’s McMaster University, earned an MBA and launched a new career in investment banking with Credit Suisse. During this career transition, he met Sarah, a native of Pakistan who had graduated from New York’s Parsons School and was working as a freelance fashion designer. Suri worked first on Wall Street and later for international investment banks in London and the Middle East. Today he’s vice president and head of real estate for the largest Saudi bank, National Commercial Bank Capital. He lives in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Sarah and their two sons, Zyan (9) and Aaryan (6). The message of the book, published in December 2012, is simple. “Love goes beyond boundaries. To all those who love someone of a different religion, culture, or country: Believe in yourself and stay firm in your belief, because all forces against you will gradually wither away with time and what will remain standing intact will be your true love itself.” The book is available at For more information, check out his website at

The Nonprofit Leader Al Messina ’71 has already turned the lessons learned during his long career with Boys & Girls Clubs of America into one book. Now he’s nearing completion of a second. The Decline & Fall of Charity in America, scheduled for publication this fall, argues that nonprofits in recent years have become preoccupied with money, marketing and metrics. “Charity was once an informal act of kindness, but it has now become a professionalized act of philanthropy,” he explains. “It was once given without expectation of anything tangible in return, but is now given with the expectation of much in return, particularly public recognition of donors and the everexpanding demand by funders for quantifiable results.” Messina, an alumnus of the 118-year-old Erie Boys Club (now the Boys & Girls Club of Erie), went on to become the agency’s seventh executive director. He previously served as assistant national director of program services for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where he focused on leadership development. His service to the organization in many roles at many levels earned him the Thomas Garth Character and Leadership Award, presented to one executive each year from the more than 5,000 Boys & Girls Clubs in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Messina’s first book, The Nonprofit Leader as Liberal Thinker: Politics, Ethics and Strategy Reconsidered, grew out of his experience not only with Boys & Girls Club, but with Erie community agencies including United Way, the Erie Rotary Scholarship Foundation, the Times Old Newsies, Erie Hospice and Family Services. calls The Nonprofit Leader, published in 2011, “a contemporary version of Machiavelli’s The Prince for the nonprofit executive of the 21st century. Told in the form of a memoir, it is a compelling account of the political and ethical dynamics every nonprofit leader must master to survive and ultimately succeed as a nonprofit CEO.” Messina and his wife, Jan, have two daughters, Denise and Alyssa, and two granddaughters, Halle and Leah. One of the first men to graduate from Mercyhurst, Messina was the first male president of student government and the first male editor of the Merciad. 20

Campus News Livingston appointed Lourdes University president David J. Livingston, Ph.D., vice president for advancement at Mercyhurst, has been named the new president of Lourdes University, a coeducational liberal arts institution of 2,600 students in Sylvania, Ohio. Founded by the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania in 1958, Lourdes is known for its quality academic programs and personalized attention to students. Livingston served in a variety of roles during his more than 15 years at Mercyhurst, from faculty member and chair of the religious studies department, to president of the Faculty Senate, to associate vice president and later vice president for advancement.

President Gamble announces leadership changes President Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D., recently announced personnel changes intended to maximize the achievement of goals set forth in the university’s strategic plan.

In that role, he is credited with making strategic and far-reaching gains, among them increasing the annual average giving to the university by more than 80 percent. He raised $32 million of a $50 million capital campaign goal two years ahead of schedule and acted as project manager for the $10.5 million academic building completed in the summer of 2012.

Jeanette Britt ’94, formerly associate vice president for advancement, has joined the president’s staff as chief information officer.

Police academy graduates 100th class

Ryan Palm ’07, director of alumni relations and annual giving, becomes assistant vice president for advancement.

Thirty-three cadets graduated from Mercyhurst’s Municipal Police Training Academy on Dec. 14, 2012, the 100th class to complete the 21week program. Nearly 3,000 students have graduated from the academy since it began in 1977.

Café Diem reborn in new location

Cadets undergo nearly 780 hours of training to prepare for entry-level positions as police officers, deputy sheriffs, municipal authority officers, park rangers and security guards. Cadets can also obtain 16 college credits toward an associate degree in criminal justice. The academy, housed on the North East campus, is one of only 16 certified academies in Pennsylvania where individuals can earn Act 120 certification, a requirement for many law enforcement jobs. The Mercyhurst curriculum goes more than 20 hours beyond the required 754 hours of training Pennsylvania mandates for future police officers, said Bill Hale, police academy director.

Monsignor David Rubino, Ph.D., who has steered the Walker School of Business over the last two years as interim dean, becomes vice president for external affairs, which includes the advancement function.

Café Diem student manager Jessica Christofferson Café Diem, the student-run café formerly located in Hammermill Library, reopened in January on the first level of the new Center for Academic Engagement. The café serves cold and hot breakfast and lunch items, including a variety of healthy menu options. Besides offering convenient dining services for the many students, staff and visitors using the building, it’s an additional hands-on food and business experience for students in the Statler Department of Hospitality Management. About 15 students work as managers, purchasers, staff and food preparers.


Psych prof wins research award

Students with autism invited to preview college life

Matthew T. Weaver, Ph.D., has been selected by the American Psychological Association to receive the 2013 Early Career Researcher Award from the B.F. Skinner Foundation for his post-doctoral research on the behavioral effects of nicotine.

For the fourth year in a row, the Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) will offer a residential summer program designed to enable college-bound teenagers with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism to test the waters of university life.

Weaver joined Mercyhurst in 2012 to head the new Laboratory on Addictive and Impulsive Behavior. “Roughly 19 percent of adults smoke, but many more try smoking and do not continue to smoke,” Weaver said. “So what are the differences between those who continue to smoke and those who quit? This is just one of the questions we’d like to ask.”

The Summer Foundations Program, scheduled for July 6-27 on the Erie campus, focuses on the development of skills necessary to succeed in college. Enrollees will live in a residence hall and eat in the university cafeteria, enroll in a three-credit college course, and interact with fellow students in social activities. For more information, contact Dianne Rogers at, or call her at 814-824-2450.

Weaver did similar research at the University of Pittsburgh using an animal model. He now plans to expand his work to study human subjects.

Mercyhurst’s innovative program for college students on the autism spectrum has continued to earn recognition, including an invitation for AIM Coordinator Bradley McGarry to testify in November before a Congressional committee studying the federal government’s response to autism.

Two faculty members named research fellows

Freeh to headline ‘Hurst intelligence forum in Ireland

Dyan Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, and Robert H. von Thaden, Jr., Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies, have been named research fellows for 2013, honored for consistently producing scholarship at the highest level within their disciplines. Jones earned her doctorate in physics education research at Kansas State University. She has begun creating upper-division physics courses and created a minor program in physics as well. She has presented dozens of papers at national conferences and published her research findings in many peer-reviewed proceedings and journals. von Thaden specializes in biblical and other sacred texts and is currently researching and writing about the cognitive science of religion. He has written a book, Sex, Christ, and Embodied Cognition: Paul’s Wisdom for Corinth (2012), and a number of articles and academic papers.

Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI, will deliver the keynote address at Mercyhurst’s Global Intelligence Forum, The Dungarvan Conference, July 7-10 in Dungarvan, Ireland. Sponsored by the Institute for Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst University, the third biennial conference will focus on “Preparing Intelligence Analysts for the 21st Century.” Panelists will address how leaders can effectively establish intelligence practices to enhance decision-making in a world marked by intensifying globalization and widespread influences of technology. An estimated 180 panelists and delegates – the largest group to date – are expected to attend, said James Breckenridge, Ph.D., executive director of the Institute for Intelligence Studies. For more information on the forum and its offerings, visit


Laker Radio adopts eclectic new format

Poll reveals opposition to arming of teachers

Mercyhurst’s two radio stations – JAZZ FM in Erie and WYNE AM in North East — have combined into one new station: WMCE AM 1530 & FM 88.5.

A majority of registered voters in Pennsylvania rejects the controversial proposal of arming teachers in schools, according to a recent poll by the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics.

The change will allow WMCE to provide more diverse programming, attract more student involvement and appeal to a broader fan base, according to Laker Radio general manager and disc jockey “Captain Dan” Geary. While WMCE will offer hits from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, Mercyhurst students will also be airing their own programming in a variety of genres. WMCE AM & FM will continue to feature Laker sports coverage and the highly-rated The Hispanic Show and Polka Party. Fans of the station’s former jazz format can stream this genre online at

New faces in advancement The Office of Institutional Advancement this spring welcomed two new employees who are already hard at work contacting alumni around the country. Julianne Weibel Foltz, Esq., the new director of planned giving, will be working with current members of the O’Neil Society (Mercyhurst’s planned giving society) as well as discussing new planned and deferred giving options with alumni and friends of the school. She has more than 10 years of experience in higher education advancement with a strong focus on planned giving. She can be reached at or 814-824-3990. Tamara Walters is the new director of alumni relations and annual giving, replacing Ryan Palm, now the assistant vice president for advancement. She has more than six years of fundraising and event planning experience, primarily in higher education but most recently with the Red Cross chapter in Erie. She will be attending some of the alumni events this spring. She can be reached at or 814-824-3350.

The poll found that many Pennsylvanians support proposals advanced by the Obama administration, among them improving mental health screening, requiring background checks for all gun sales and increasing the presence of police officers and armed security guards. The proposal to allow teachers trained in the use of firearms to carry guns in classrooms was rejected by a majority – 56 percent – of Pennsylvanians. To read more about this and other polls completed by MCAP, visit

Education Department to work with Mercy Center of the Arts The Mercyhurst Education Department has forged a new cooperative agreement with Mercy Center of the Arts, a collaboration that will provide a vibrant arts-based preschool experience for Erie area children while also offering new clinical opportunities for early childhood education majors. Working with the Sisters of Mercy and the Mercy Center staff, Mercyhurst will oversee the hiring of a new director for the center, who will also be a faculty member in Mercyhurst’s education department. Mercyhurst will also use the center as a resource for its teacher candidates, who will be assigned there for clinical experiences.

‘Ambassadors of service’ offer aid during spring break trips Embodying Mercyhurst’s mission of service, nearly 50 students, faculty and staff chose to spend their spring breaks volunteering at sites around America and the Caribbean. The alternative break trips were organized by the offices of service learning and campus ministry. One group headed to Gresslier, Haiti, joining a team rebuilding a church and school destroyed by the recent earthquake. Others went to Bridgeton, N.J., to help with demoliton and debris clearing in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Two groups headed south on separate Habitat for Humanity trips, one to Union County, N.C., and another to Tupelo, Miss.


Alumni relations

world tour Building on the success of the inaugural Alumni Road Trip in 2012, Alumni Relations decided to expand and hit 20 cities within the U.S., Canada, and Ireland in 2013. As we like to say, the gates are always open and we’re delighted to welcome alumni back to campus at any time. But if you can’t come to us, the World Tour will bring Mercyhurst to you. Each event includes great food and drink. More important, you’ll have a chance to network with fellow alumni and, at many tour stops, with accepted students and their families from your area. You can share stories about your time on The Hill, let us know what you’ve been up to since graduation, and give those prospective students an idea what life as a Laker is all about. The World Tour kicked off with a reception at Erie’s new Bayfront Convention Center (see photos right) and has already made several stops. Check the schedule to see if there’s an event coming up near you. April 17, 2013 5:30-7:30 pm Conor O’Neill’s Pub Ann Arbor, Mich.

April 23, 2013 6-8 p.m. Mad Hatter Washington, D.C.

May 1, 2013 5:30-7:30 pm Trali Irish Pub Raleigh, N.C.

April 18, 2013 6-8 p.m. The Kerryman Irish Pub Chicago, Ill.

April 24, 2013 6-8 p.m. Slainte Baltimore, Md.

May 2, 2013 5:30-7:30 p.m. Mortimer’s Charlotte, N.C.

April 25, 2013 6-8 p.m. Tavern 29 New York, N.Y.

May 10-11, 2013 9-4 p.m. each day Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta Philadelphia, Pa.

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Alumni Notes Christopher C. Coffey, Ph.D. ‘77 has been named associate director for science at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Kelley Moore Spaeder ‘88 was inducted into the American Cancer Society’s Georgia Achievement Society. Deborah M. Lang Redlin ‘93 accepted a position as incentive coordinator at Wyndham Jade, a company that specializes in meeting management and corporate and incentive travel, in Plano, Texas. Dr. Cassandra L. Kuba ‘97 was recently awarded tenure and selected to receive the 2013 Presidential Gala Award for Outstanding Service at California University of Pennsylvania. She is an assistant professor of anthropology. Robert E. Merski ‘99 was appointed to the Saint Vincent Foundation Board of Corporators in November 2012. A special education teacher at Erie’s East High School, he is also serving his first term on Erie City Council. Martin P. Cannon ‘00 was included in Rochester Business Journal’s “Forty under 40.” He is the director of total compensation at Paychex, Inc. Sgt. Raymond G. Kress ‘00, a SWAT team leader for Nevada County in California, was awarded the Medal of Valor after successfully rescuing a hostage being used as a human shield. Mandy Fies Weaver ‘01 ’07 was promoted to supervisor of the foster care, adoption and kinship support team at Ashtabula County Children’s Services in Ohio. Melissa B. Burke ‘03 has been named a partner of Kenney Shelton Liptak Nowak.


Bryan A. Hurley ‘05 has been named SEC reporting manager in corporate finance at KeyBank in Cleveland, Ohio. Simon R. Arias ‘05 was honored when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette named his company, American Income Life’s Arias Agency, as Pittsburgh’s top workplace among small businesses. Jessica M. Verbic ‘06 received her teaching license for Spanish grades K-12 and is teaching at St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus, Ohio. She is the assistant coach for the school’s cross country and track teams and completed the Columbus Marathon in October. Patrick Garvin ‘11 has been promoted to experienced assistant for the Bonadio Group of Buffalo, N.Y., which provides accounting, consulting and financial services.

Marriages and Engagements Stephanie Lucas Christenson ‘68 married George Basile on June 16, 2012. Matron of honor was Maureen Milan Carroll ‘68. Stephanie is a freelance writer/editor and George retired from Consolidated Edison. Kevin P. McAteer ‘89 married Shayna Meador on Dec. 24, 2012, in Raleigh, N.C.

Brandy L. Weber ‘06 married Dave Porter on Oct. 6, 2012, in Sullivan Island, S.C. Brandy is an assistant store manager with Starbucks. Dave is an aerospace engineer currently working on projects with Boeing. They plan to move to Toronto in May 2013. Maeve E. Kelly ‘07 married Sean Gavin on June 16, 2012.

Bradley W. Maxa ‘07 married Shelley Lockhart on April 21, 2012. Andy O’Dell ‘07 was a groomsman. Kristin S. Peterson ‘08 and Matt R. Pierce ‘09 are engaged to be married in November 2013. Alicia Santoliquido ‘08 married Jason McCraw on Nov. 17, 2012, in South Orange, N.J. They live and work in the Washington, D.C., area. Sarah Belotti ‘09 and Sam Smolarek ‘09 are engaged to be married in May 2014. Sam and Sarah reside in Pittsburgh, where Sam serves as a police officer of Mt. Lebanon Township and Sarah is pursuing her Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Pittsburgh while working for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Brian Johns ‘10 and Alexandra Miniri ‘10 are engaged and planning their wedding for October 2013 in Buffalo, N.Y.

Births and Adoptions Aaron May ‘05 is engaged to marry Jennifer Henk in July 2013. Penelope Lewis ‘06 and Ilmari Niklander ‘07 were married on Oct. 22, 2011. They reside in Finland.

Scott Koskoski ‘00 and wife Melissa had a son, Jackson David, on Jan. 21, 2013. He joins siblings Benjamin, Tyler and Olivia. Gregory C. Beato ‘01 and Susan Gonnam Beato ‘01 had a son, Marco Louis, on Oct. 20, 2012.

Danielle Reid Cofta ‘01 and husband Stephen had a son, Jackson Thomas, on Aug. 28, 2012.

Shawn L. Basile ‘01 and Sarah Pulley Basile ‘03 have adopted their third daughter, Zofia, with the help of Reece’s Rainbow. They already adopted Zoya in 2010 and Mila in 2011. Read more about their story on Sarah’s blog at

Megan Hines Acre ‘06 and husband Ben had a son, Garrett Benjamin, on Nov. 10, 2012. Zacariah Brien ‘06 and Kathryn Jarocki ‘07 had a son, Levi Brien Jarocki, on Jan. 10, 2013.

Sarah Williams Palm ‘06 and Ryan Palm ‘07 had a daughter, Madison Grace, on Dec. 8, 2012. Rita Galaviz Helms ‘07 and husband Daniel had a son, Jameson Daniel, on Nov. 1, 2012. He joins brother Sean.

Glenn B. Caulfield ‘02 and Naomi Clear had a son, Joshua Patrick, on Jan. 15, 2013.

Eric Hollenbeck ‘05 and wife Anne had a son, Jude Thomas, on Dec. 23, 2012.

Mother-in-law of: Gary Peterson ’86 (Eleanor M. Tarasovitch) Anthony P. Prusak ‘90 (Shannon R. Wilson) Father of: Joan Mohr Krist ‘77 (Clarence Mohr) Richard S. Porris ‘79 (Raymon Porris) Megan Reichel Last ‘96 (Richard Reichel) Laura M. McCarthy ‘07 (Kevin McCarthy) Grandfather of: Abigail S. Grasinger ‘09 and Tyler J. Grasinger ‘11 (Joseph R. Kohler) Grandmother of: Tim Tarasovitch ’08 and junior Jessica Tarasovitch (Eleanor M. Tarasovitch)

James C. Alexander IV ‘04 and Heather Ackerman Alexander ‘04 had their fourth child, James C. Alexander V, on July 18, 2012. He joins older sisters Noel, Morgan and Taylor. Thomas J. Wilson ‘04 and Stephanie Roddy Wilson ‘04 had quadruplets John Anthony, Hailey Lynn, Kaia Elizabeth, and Gavin Thomas on Dec. 29, 2011.

Mother of: Marilyn S. Batra ‘60 (Luella Smith) Nancy Ann Chiappazzi ‘67 (Lee Soccoccio) Valorie A. Catalano ‘77 (Betty McIntyre) Christopher Hagerty ‘79 (Adrianna Hagerty) Jim Tarasovitch ’80, Joe Tarasovitch ’85 and Marie Tarasovitch Peterson ’86 (Eleanor M. Tarasovitch)

Deaths Alumni Margaret MacInnes ‘33 Winifred Eisert ‘37 Harriet Schaper ‘43 Sarah M. Thorn ‘45 Mary H. Phelan ‘50 Ann McCormick ‘57 Mary Jane H. Doty ‘58 Roberta E. Kase ‘70 Fred Nungesser ‘75 Steven G. Ryan ‘77 Barbara A. Hanley ‘84 Christine Turner ‘97 Brian R. Batchman ‘08

Friends of the University: Father Stephen Anderson Diana Bohl Barbara E. Bracken G. David Burton Rose Dascanio Dorothy DeVitt Ranjit S. Dhaliwal, MD Dominick J. Jordano Leo MacKrell Joseph P. Minunni Clara Mizikowski Stanley Prazer Marguerite Spaeder

Husband of: Lydia Ann Asplund ‘52 (Henry R. Asplund) Trudi M. Harclerode ‘62 (C. Keith Harclerode)


Fashion Star

Guest Check Before hotel “fixer” Anthony Melchiorri and the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible can help a struggling facility, they need the lowdown on its operations. As they prepped for the popular show’s second season, they turned to Mercyhurst graduate Derek Wood ’91 and his company, Guest Check. Wood conducted anonymous onsite inspections (aka mystery shops) at the hotels in question, checking out everything from the check-in process to food and beverage services to Internet speed. Waldorf-Astoria Manager Eric Long, a long-time Guest Check client, recommended Wood for the job.

Erika Ballman De Salvatore ’00 is taking her strong suit – a critical eye – to the set of NBC’s Fashion Star where, as the program’s featured buyer for Express, she makes decisions that stand to propel an aspiring designer’s career into retail rapture or stop it dead in its tracks.

After earning his hospitality degree, Wood worked with Applebees, Hyatt and Sheraton Hotels and ran two small B&Bs. His final job on the operations side was opening and running a full-service, privately owned, 62-room hotel and restaurant in Colorado.

A Mercyhurst fashion merchandising and Fashion Institute of Technology graduate, De Salvatore is director of visual merchandising for Express and lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she has been a member of the Express corporate team since 2003. De Salvatore got her career start in the late 1990s at the Millcreek Mall Express store, where she eventually became manager. Today, much of her time is spent on the road, traveling among the 600+ Express stores, refining brand presentation and gaining inspiration for what is next. The busy wife of Danny De Salvatore and mother of 4-year-old Massimo, she never aspired to be a TV personality. To the extent that Fashion Star speaks to her passion, though, she jumped at the chance. Fashion Star, hosted by Louise Roe, Glamour magazine’s fashion editorat-large, each week gives contestants a challenge to design a certain type of clothing. They work with guidance from celebrity mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos. De Salvatore has bantered with them all and felt very much at home, a state of confidence she said Mercyhurst helped engender. “The minute I met Marilyn Smith (then chair of fashion merchandising), I felt a connection; something magical happened and I knew fashion was where I should be,” De Salvatore recalled. “Marilyn also told me I had the power of public speaking and she drove that home every time I presented. She would say, ‘When you speak, you command an entire room.’” De Salvatore and representatives of Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue are charged with evaluating contestants’ designs and bidding on those they wanted to carry in their stores. “The premise of this particular reality show is very different,” De Salvatore said. “The designs the buyers purchase become available immediately to the public. Fashion Star definitely meets the instant gratification demands of today’s younger generation.”


While running hotels, he looked for help assessing his own operations – a way to evaluate his services through the eyes of guests. When he couldn’t find the right company to provide that guest perspective, he launched his own. The inspectors Guest Check contracts have worked in more than 30 states, Mexico, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The next step, he hopes, is a partnership that would allow him to expand into Europe. Wood is married to fellow Mercyhurst alum Wendy Smith Wood ‘91 and they have three kids, Wyatt (13), Brooks (11), and Ava (5). The Woods live in Golden, Colo., where Wendy runs her own portrait/ photography business.

Why not Cullen Eddy? Story by David Leisering Growing up as a young boy in a hockey family, you have one dream in life – to someday play in the National Hockey League (NHL). That dream could soon become a reality for former Mercyhurst defenseman Cullen Eddy. Eddy played for two teams in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) before finding a home with the Adirondack Phantoms, the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. Then he got an exciting call from his agent last July. Eddy had become the second player in Mercyhurst’s history to sign a National Hockey League contract.

He has some advice for today’s Lakers: “Take nothing for granted. I had the opportunity to play for a couple league championships, which was great. But, the part I miss the most are the relationships I developed with my coaches and my teammates.” Mercyhurst plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association, which currently has some players playing in the National Hockey League. “It definitely makes me work that much harder so I can join those guys. ‘Why not me?’ I question myself constantly,” he says. Well, why not Cullen Eddy?

“It was a dream come true,” said Eddy. “I had been back and forth between the AHL and the ECHL for the past couple of seasons. This contract assured me that I could go no lower than the AHL, which is just one step away from the big show.” A native of Hidden Valley, Pa., Eddy last played for the blue and green as a senior during the 2009-10 campaign. Known for his physical style of play, he caught the eye of some scouts and immediately signed with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL after his senior season. There, he helped the Cyclones win the ECHL Championship in 2010. He signed one-year AHL contracts the next two seasons, bouncing between the Phantoms and the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL. He spent most of his playing time with the Phantoms, becoming a mainstay in the lineup, and continuing to catch the eye of Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren. “I play a tough position in a tough organization,” said Eddy. “The Flyers are very deep on defense so there aren’t any guarantees that I’ll get called up. All I can do is work hard and keep doing my best and hopefully the right pieces will fall into place so I can get that call.” In the meantime, Eddy is making a name for himself off the ice and has become a fan favorite with the Phantoms. Eddy was named the Phantoms’ IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year for his outstanding contributions to the Glens Falls community during the 2011-12 season. In his second season with the Phantoms, he has embraced new opportunities to get involved in the community.

Eddy could become the second player to don a Mercyhurst jersey to appear in the National Hockey League. Former Laker Jamie Hunt (2003-06) played in one game for the Washington Capitals in 2006. Hunt signed an NHL contract with the Capitals right after his junior season (2005-06) with the Lakers. He spent two years with Washington’s AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, and two more years with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He amassed 48 career points in 165 games.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to get involved with the community,” said Eddy. “It really means a lot to me. The fans come out and support us, so I feel we should go out and support them.” Eddy’s made multiple visits to the Glens Falls Hospital Pediatric Unit and led full-school assemblies at Abraham Wing Elementary and Granville Elementary, talking about the importance of hard work and staying in school. Eddy has read to classes at Corinth Middle School and has been a guest on the Phantoms’ Weekly Radio Show. He also helped the Phantoms raise money for The C.R. Wood Cancer Center at Glens Falls Hospital as part of the Phantoms’ Pink in the Rink promotion. Eddy played 2006-10 with the Lakers, finishing his career with 49 points (9 goals, 40 assists) in 144 games. He had a career-high 16 points as a freshman during the 2006-07 season (5 goals, 11 assists) and was named to the Atlantic Hockey Association’s All-Rookie Team that year. 28

Aspiring to inspire When Liz Lindsay graduated in 2007, she was certified to teach art from kindergarten through high school. Today she’s teaching a different sort of art than she anticipated – the traditional Korean martial art Tang Soo Do. Liz started training in Tang Soo Do before she was six, absorbing not only its physical techniques but also the personal discipline and respect that’s central to the martial art. Tang Soo Do is a Korean “karate” taught by way of Moo Duk Kwan, which translates roughly as “military virtue school.” It teaches virtues like responsibility, sincerity and justice in strict, disciplined classes involving kicking, punching, knee strikes, elbow strikes, joint locking, and sweeping take downs. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always fun.

Liquid Artistry Christina Maffei has held key management positions at many world-class hotels and restaurants since graduating from Mercyhurst in 2001, but it’s her unique sideline that’s drawn the most attention. An award-winning mixologist, she created “The World’s Best Mai Tai” at the Bacardi World Mai Tai Competition in Kona, Hawaii, in 2011. She describes her philosophy of cocktail making as “Liquid Artistry” and says she combines the ideas of a bar chef and the ingredients of a liquid kitchen to create her tantalizing sensations.  She also adds market-fresh ingredients, homemade components such as infusions and herbal and spice-flavored syrups, and fresh squeezed juices and purees to create her signature drinks.

“Little did I know at the time that the instructor’s job wasn’t to teach me to have fun or even to kick and punch, but to make me into a better, more well-rounded person,” Liz explains. She quit lessons at 16 and only realized years later how much she missed them. “That instructor cared enough to help me and so many others learn right from wrong, what it was to earn something, how it felt to lose and then practice harder to succeed, how to respect everyone, how to protect myself, how to push myself, and what it meant to give yourself to the development of others,” she says. She returned to training and, in 2008, was offered her own school by Grand Master C.S. Kim. Enrollment at her school in Irwin, Pa., has grown from 15 at the start to 100 now, with ages ranging from 4 to 60 and abilities from those with physical and mental disabilities to gifted athletes. She expects to produce her first black belts this year. As a competitor, she’s brought home 10 national and world championships. The second female to win a world championship in individual forms, she was the first to do it twice. In October, she earned her master’s belt and the title Master Lindsay (Sa Bom Nim Lindsay). Lindsay says some people suggest she wasted her education. She replies vehemently, “No, I use it every day! There are many, many times I look back proud that I had good roots and a well-rounded education. I think people underestimate having a good education.” She knows some of her students probably feel like she did as a teen – that all she does is yell at them. “The gift is knowing that someday they will get it. Someday, maybe they will appreciate those who taught before them. Someday, they will aspire to inspire too!” 29

Fresh out of Mercyhurst, Maffei headed to Chicago, working at Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Chef Charlie Trotter’s restaurant, Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and Fairmont Hotel Chicago. For the past five years she’s been a part of the Trump Hotel Collection. She was on the opening teams for both Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago and Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk. In 2011, Maffei joined the task force to open the newest Trump addition in Panama City, Panama, and in spring 2012 she headed to Miami where Trump had acquired the Doral Golf Resort & Spa. Now Maffei has moved back to Oahu to serve as Director of Food and Beverage Outlets for the 3,600-room Hilton Hawaiian Village. Maffei is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a member of the U.S. Bartenders Guild and a former member of the Chaine de Rotisseurs, Honolulu Chapter.


Reunion by the sea

Eric Hollenbeck ’05 is getting to be a regular at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

Thirteen members of the Class of 1965 gathered in Kennebunkport, Maine, last September for their second “Reunion by the Sea.” Maureen Gray and her son Rob hosted the group at their summer homes in Cape Porpoise.

He was among the executive producers of Compliance, a controversial drama about a prank caller who convinces a fast-food restaurant manager to interrogate an employee. It premiered in 2012 in Sundance’s NEXT division, a noncompetitive showcase for new voices in American cinema. Mark Cuban’s Magnolia Pictures purchased it and released it in theaters last summer. Compliance is now playing on VOD (video on demand) and is out on DVD. This year, Hollenbeck was one of the producers of The Kings of Summer (previously titled Toy’s House), one of 16 films competing in the U.S. dramatic division. “We without question had one of the hits at Sundance,” Hollenbeck says. “People loved the film, finding it both hilarious and moving, and it’s routinely cited as one of the top films of the festival.” The Kings of Summer is the story of three unhappy teenage boys who flee to the wilderness to build a makeshift house and live off the land as masters of their own destiny – or at least that’s the plan. It stars Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Alison Brie. A few days after the Jan. 19 premiere, CBS Films acquired domestic rights to the film. Scott Shooman of CBS said, “While comparisons to movies like Stand By Me and The Goonies are inevitable, we found Toy’s House to be a fresh, funny and heartwarming story that is a loving throwback for a new generation.”

Barb Brairton of Erie brought along Mercyhurst University “Laker Spirit” t-shirts for the whole group. Attending were Kathie Mahaney Baumeister, Maureen Aleci Gray, Anne Ledoux Erwin, Bonnie Morris Gerace, Peggy Hock Heetmann, Claire Cronin Palmisano, Barbara Kramer Brozich, Barbara Brairton, Mary Ann Sabolsky Sieczka, Ginny Gorsak DeGironimo, Carol Klein, Janis Bodnar Hall and Susan Smith Beidler.

Since leaving Mercyhurst, Hollenbeck has worked for numerous production companies and studios, including Walt Disney Pictures, Focus Features, Paramount Pictures, The Weinstein Company and Universal Pictures. His credits include Gus Van Sant/Matt Damon’s film Promiseland, Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher, The Avengers, George Clooney’s Ides of March, J.J. Abrams/Spielberg’s Super 8 and Showtime’s breakout hit series Homeland. In spring 2010, he founded his own company, Breakfast Films, to develop, finance and feature films. Why Breakfast Films? “It is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But simply put, breakfast is just awesome. Who doesn’t like pancakes, bacon, and eggs? If you don’t like pancakes then surely you like waffles, French toast or bagels. Maybe oatmeal or cereal is your style? So many choices… “We would like to think that the best films started with a great breakfast. Hence, Breakfast Films was born to produce a variety of features films, because life is about choices. “What are you having for breakfast?” Hollenbeck divides his time between Cleveland and Los Angeles. He and his wife, Anne, welcomed their first son, Jude Thomas, on Dec. 23, 2012.


501 East 38th Street, Erie, PA 16546

2 UNekEend J 1 e 3 MA13YReunion W 20


Welcome Home Reception All-Class Dinner and Reception Alumni College All-Class BBQ Lunch Distinguished Alumni Awards Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony • Saturday Night Gatherings • Sunday Mass & Brunch • Campus Tours

You’re invited back to campus for a weekend of good food and drink, exciting events and great company. Mercyhurst alumni are invited to stay in beautiful Warde Hall, and enjoy festivities all weekend on the campus. Take a campus tour and let our guides tell you all about the latest additions to the Mercyhurst campus and make a quick stop at the brand-new, state-of-the-art Center for Academic Engagement. We hope you will join us for these and many more exciting events throughout the weekend!

Watch your mailbox and email inbox for more details, and visit for the latest updates!

Mercyhurst Magazine April 2013  

Mercyhurst Spring magazine

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