Burke, Hoff set record for tenure

Jillian Marcellin, Staff writer

Mercyhurst University has had its share of faculty members. However, professors Robert Hoff and Daniel Burke have been here as two of the longest tenured faculty members on campus. Aside from Sisters of Mercy, Hoff and Burke set the record with more than five decades of experience at the Hurst.

Hoff was invited to interview for a position at then-Mercyhurst College in July 1969. After he spoke with Sister Carolyn Herrmann, he accepted her offer to teach at Mercyhurst for one year. At the time, he did not think one year would turn into a half-century.

Hoff explained that he “fell in love with Mercyhurst” despite the lack of a Psychology program.

“The students were so stimulating, and I knew that teaching was my path very quickly,” Hoff said.
Hoff developed the school’s Psychology program and stayed for good. Since it was originally a one-man show, Hoff got to teach all the Psychology courses.

A new major in Psychology was developed in 1971, and Hoff saw the first two Psychology majors graduate in May 1972.

Since then, many of the graduates of the program have achieved remarkable success in a variety of fields, including psychology, neuroscience, business, education, behavior analysis, medicine and law.
Hoff has also been the recipient of the Mercyhurst Excellence in Teaching Award and has established Mercyhurst University’s Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology chapter that he has led since 1991.

“I feel very fortunate and am grateful that I found the ideal fit for my interests and abilities,” Hoff said. One of his favorite memories at Mercyhurst includes the “many stimulating conversations I’ve had with students and colleagues ever since I arrived at Mercyhurst.”

Such interactions have been the defining characteristic of what he refers to as the “Mercyhurst mystique” that has kept him here.

Joining Hoff in his success is Burke, professor of Art.

Burke began his journey into education at an art school but then was drafted into the Vietnam War. When he came back to the U.S., he was able to attend college through the GI Bill at Gannon College while taking art classes at Mercyhurst College. When the school changed to a co-educational facility in 1969, he had already accumulated almost all of his credits at Mercyhurst, and Burke graduated in 1969 as the only and first male graduate.

He began teaching directly afterward. Sister Angelica Cummings had hired Burke and soon became a close friend of his. Burke has taught several courses, including Creativity of Man, Painting, Watercolor Painting, Mixed Media Painting, Repurposing and the Freshman Foundation courses.

Burke expressed that he does not have a certain memory that stands out above all others, but has simply appreciated his time at Mercyhurst overall. He explained that one of the many things that Mercyhurst provided him was his close friendship with Sister Cummings that spanned almost 50 years.

Both professors have shown dedication to this institution over many, many decades and are true Lakers for Life.