Student looks back at Gamble’s presidency at Mercyhurst

I have been trying to figure out how to write this for the past week, and I am still not sure I have got it right.

There’s a section of me which wants to skewer Dr. Gamble as the killer of Mercyhurst (one possible opening line I had fiddled with made reference to the ways a Soviet dissident named Solzhenitsyn who spoke of Stalin), but then the more rational and balanced part of me admits that to do so would be unbalanced and unprofessional.

The culture of Mercyhurst has changed over his time here, maybe for the worse. I have noticed a change in the attitude of the students. We are cynical because we expect the administration to pull a fast one on us. We almost expect something shady to be going on, regardless of whether or not there is.

I have heard rumors for the past two years, trash-talking every section of this administration, some with more validity than others. Some of them skewer Gamble and the other higher-ups as badly as I wanted to at the start.

Gamble’s last couple years have been scattered with a great deal of bad news: financial difficulties, position cuts, declining enrollment and what can seem like nonsensical decision-making regarding the decision to continue expanding on a shrinking budget.

However, there have been some positive notes, in my view, which may have escaped the public notice. The expansion of education to populations which may have otherwise not had it (inner-city residents at the Booker T. Washington Center, for example), and expansion of the academic study of Catholicism at the university are just two such notes.

If I may be so bold as to argue that it may be possible none of the decisions which have panned out poorly were taken with malicious intent, I pray the student body would heed me.

The changing landscape of the nation is partially to blame for some of the changes Mercyhurst has had to undergo. Smaller pools of students, decreased enrollment and shrinking finances have forced the hand of the administration in the end, but I highly doubt the poor actions were carried out intentionally.

I would argue that these decisions could be explained by a lack of foresight or the possible assumption that Mercyhurst could be exempt from the troubles other colleges have experienced in recent years.

To think that Mercyhurst is any different from any other college is ludicrous. That, in my opinion, was the fallacy. It was not malice, but overconfidence. The administration thought we could dodge the blade without getting nicked and they were obviously wrong.

They thought we would not need to change, or adjust, even though everyone else had to. God knows what was going through their minds. But it clearly was not common-sense. If it had been, there may have been smaller changes over time, instead of an earth-shattering shock all at once.