Enrollment, wifi service, food among issues new president should consider, students say

After nearly a decade of service at Mercyhurst University, Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D., president of Mercyhurst University, announced that he will retire in May of 2015. With a president being here for so long, the question on many student’s minds is who will now replace him.

This process was started in October and will continue to be an ongoing process until the day Gamble retires. There has been several decisions made already, but many more to come.

On October 14, Board Chair Marlene Mosco appointed Trustee Richard A. Lanzillo and Trustee Joseph G. NeCastro to co-chair the presidential search committee. This responsibility involves outlining the responsibilities and authority of the Directive to Presidential Search Committee from the Board of Trustees, planning the early steps of the campaign, and hiring an executive search firm (the four top contenders being AGB Search, Hyatt- Fennell & Associates, R.H. Perry & Associates, and Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates) to assist in the process.

The members chosen to be on the Presidential Search Committee are a mix of trustees and faculty. These two groups working together will theoretically be able to represent the voice of Mercyhurst. One additional aspect of the group is an asset as well, says Mary Daly, who is serving as the university’s resource person for the search committee.

“Out of the 14 members of the committee, nine are alumni of Mercyhurst,” Daly said.

The students of Mercyhurst are very eager to see what this new president can bring to the university’s community.

“The top issue I think the new president will have to deal with is the low enrollment numbers that have plagued the university for the past few years,” Matt Seabold, senior, said.

Along with enrollment, prices with food seem to be a large problem.

“I know it is not the president’s fault, but the prices for food here are ridiculous and I know it concerns a lot of students.

Maybe if they could just negotiate with Parkhurst it would help,” senior Kayley Dunn said.

With some big ambitions such as this, students feel small day to day improvements could help tremendously as well.

“I guess the best improvement would be trying to improve the quality of wifi so students can have it all over campus, not just in buildings,” Augie Mezzio, junior, said.

Seabold feels increased interaction between students and the administration would help Mercyhurst function more smoothly.

“The new president should be very active in the student body in terms of being seen around campus and having a presence so he can develop almost a more personal connection with the student body. This level of transparency with the rest of the school could be beneficial because it would allow the school to find out about some issues that are being dealt with or new ideas that are being generated that have a large impact on Mercyhurst,” said Seabold.

While some students feel he needs to make big changes, others believe just a small change can benefit the Mercyhurst community tremendously.

“I would say the new president should change our mascot. It needs to be better- maybe a hedgehog or something,” freshman Sydney VanLeeuwn said.

The first meeting of the Presidential Search Committee will be held December 12, and according to Daly, the search will intensify.