Mercyhurst is proud of its exceptional faculty, who teach outstanding programs in the liberal arts and sciences. Many are leaders in their respective fields. Most classes have fewer than 25 students and the faculty: student ratio is 14:1. All undergraduate classes are taught exclusively by faculty (not teaching assistants), affording close interaction between faculty and students, one of the hallmarks of a Mercyhurst education.

Read about faculty in a specific program of study or read below to learn about just a few of our faculty who represent the type of high-caliber individuals who teach our students.

Dave Grabelski, M.A.

Dave Grabelski
Intelligence Studies

As an LAPD homicide detective during the worst of the 1980's gang-related cocaine wars in Los Angeles, Dave Grabelski saw the criminal element at its worst. Then, working for the National Drug Intelligence Center as a gang intelligence analyst, he put his strategic analysis skills to work on a national level. Now, after 37 years in law enforcement intelligence, he brings his knowledge and experience to Mercyhurst, where he heads the undergraduate program in intelligence studies, and seeks to both educate and inspire the next generation of intelligence analysts to protect the communities in which we live. Besides delivering the latest law enforcement intelligence methods, Grabelski imparts to students the responsibility they have in applying them legally and ethically. As an educator, he is inspired by the words of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, who died in the space shuttle Challenger disaster: "I touch the future. I teach."

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David J. Dausey, Ph.D.

Public Health

David J. Dausey brings a unique blend of real world experience and academic training to public health. His academic training at Mercyhurst, Yale and Harvard provided him with a framework to analyze, diagnose and solve public health problems. He has applied these skills to real life public health problems around the world from the rainforests of Cambodia to the deserts of Jordan. Along the way he has advised monarchs on how to design public health systems for their countries, ministers of health on how to improve their infectious disease surveillance systems, and senior government officials on how to craft sound public health policies. As an award-winning teacher, Dausey brings these experiences into his classroom through hands-on learning techniques such as case studies, exercises and simulations. Dausey encourages his students to discover a passion for learning and knowledge that will let them become lifelong learners. His teaching philosophy is inspired by William Butler Yeats who wrote, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

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Jim Breckenridge, M.B.A.,M.A.

Jim Breckenridge
Business, Intelligence Studies

From war-ravaged Beirut, where he commanded the U.S. Army's first unit to engage in combat since Vietnam, to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he taught World and Middle Eastern history, Jim Breckenridge draws both from his academic training and operational experience to teach the next generation of intelligence analysts at Mercyhurst. A commissioned Army officer, recipient of the Legion of Merit and Combat Action Ribbon; published author; accomplished professor and former businessman. Whether he is teaching students on the Mercyhurst campus, analysts at the National Security Agency in D.C., corporate analysts at Booz Allen Hamilton or law enforcement authorities in South Asia, Breckenridge's students benefit from the abundant real-world experience he brings to the classroom.

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Louisa Jonason, M.M.

louisa jonason

Louisa Jonason had an international career as an opera singer before coming to Mercyhurst, where she now chairs the D'Angelo Department of Music. She made operatic debuts in Europe, Asia, Japan and Canada and was a leading soprano with The New York City Opera during Beverly Sills' tenure. After three national tours and appearances all over the world, she has sung more performances as Puccini's Madama Butterfly than any other soprano. She's still performing, most recently a televised performance featuring compositions written for her by renowned composer Joyce Suskind. This remarkable background creates a special experience for her opera students, who perform a full-scale opera each year and are featured in productions by The After Dinner Opera (ADO). Louisa is artistic director for ADO, a company dedicated to American opera that was founded in New York City in 1950 and now makes its home at Mercyhurst. The ADO productions, many of them world premieres, open in Erie and then travel to New York.

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Michael P. Federici, Ph.D.

mike federici
Political Science

A sought-after political consultant who gave more than 100 media interviews during the nation’s historic election of President Barack Obama, Dr. Michael Federici is also a well-rounded teacher-scholar, distinguished speaker and author whose expertise extends to American Government, Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, Political Theory and American Political Thought. His classroom percolates with a vigorous exchange of ideas, an environment in which students are enlightened, challenged and nurtured. As a Teaching Excellence Award winner with 20 years teaching experience, Federici likes to tell students: “While college will help you prepare for professional life, it should also make you aware of the higher or permanent things that give life purpose, meaning and happiness. It should inspire you to be a life-long reader of good books including literature, poetry, history, philosophy, religion and politics.” Among Federici’s myriad other achievements, he wrote two federal grants totaling $1.5 million, through which he facilitated professional development programs that aimed to deepen and broaden teachers' knowledge of traditional American history.

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Peggy Black

peggy black
Sociology / Social Work

Making a difference in the lives of people impacted by difficult circumstances is what drives Dr. Peggy Black, chair of the social work/sociology department at Mercyhurst. Empowering others and building on their strengths to allow change and growth is what she has tried to accomplish in her 25 years as a practicing social worker. It is that knowledge, experience and commitment that she brings to the Mercyhurst classroom. Widely recognized for her professional dedication to the service of older adults, Black takes pride in her work in the fields of aging, chronic illness and hospice care. She played a pivotal role in founding the Geriatric Social Workers Association in Erie, and was honored by the local chapter of the National Association of Social Workers as "Social Worker of the Year." At this point in her career, her focus is on young people and guiding her students toward the many rewarding careers available in social work today.

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Robert J. Heibel

Bob Heibel
Intelligence Studies

Robert J. Heibel, director of the Mercyhurst College Institute for Intelligence Studies, brings to Mercyhurst the remarkable experience of a 25-year veteran of the FBI. As the Bureau's deputy chief of counterterrorism, he saw firsthand the need for qualified intelligence analysts to serve in guarding this country's national security. He developed a program to produce such analysts nearly two decades ago and, since then, it has evolved into the world's largest full-time academic enterprise educating intelligence analysts for national security, law enforcement and private business. Intelligence studies students at Mercyhurst benefit not only from Heibel's expertise, but from an outstanding faculty of men and women, many of whom have had careers in the intelligence field. As educators, they bring real-world lessons to the classroom and pave the way for their students to achieve successful careers of their own.

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Steven A Symes

steve symes
Forensic Anthropology

Forensic anthropologist Dr. Steven Symes is a leading authority on trauma to bone and a sought-after expert in criminal cases and human rights investigations. Recently he's traveled to Columbia, Peru, Scotland and Singapore to lecture and share his expertise. As one of less than 60 board-certified forensic anthropologists in North America, he's participated in hundreds of murder investigations, frequently testifying as an expert witness. He's also worked with investigators around the world to uncover human rights atrocities and deliver the evidence necessary to bring perpetrators to justice. In 2008, he earned the Thomas Dale Stewart Award for lifetime achievement, the highest honor offered by the Physical Anthropology Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Best of all, he's on the anthropology faculty of Mercyhurst College, where both undergraduate and graduate students have the unparalleled opportunity of not only learning from him in the classroom and in the lab, but in working alongside him on many of his forensic cases.

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