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Civic Institute named in Gamble's honor

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Thomas J. Gamble began his life’s work in the field of children and youth services, so it seems only fitting that his presidency of Mercyhurst University should end in recognition of that influence, which has been the guiding light along his extraordinary career path.

“As those of us on the board thought of how best to convey tangible recognition of Dr. Gamble's many contributions to Mercyhurst over the years, we came to a decision that we believe will be most meaningful to him and his family,” said Marlene Mosco, chair of the university’s board of trustees, which hosted a farewell dinner for Gamble and his family Friday, June 19, at the Kahkwa Club. “On behalf of my colleagues on the board, I am pleased to announce that the Mercyhurst Civic Institute, which Dr. Gamble founded in 1999, will henceforth be called:

'The Thomas J. Gamble Civic Institute of Mercyhurst University.'”

Gamble is retiring as president of Mercyhurst after nearly a decade in that role; however, he has spent the past 30 years at Mercyhurst, or roughly one-third of the time the university has existed. In his early years at Mercyhurst, Gamble founded the Mercyhurst Institute for Child and Family Policy, which under his leadership evolved into the Mercyhurst Civic Institute, a college-community partnership dedicated to the social, educational and civic wellbeing of the Erie region and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Prior to joining the faculty at Mercyhurst , Gamble was the executive director of the Erie County Office of Children & Youth Services. Over the years, he has been a key team member in establishing several community initiatives, among them the Erie County Collaborative Board for Children and Families, the Erie County Children’s Advocacy Center, the Erie County juvenile detention screening program, and the Pennsylvania model of child abuse risk assessment.

Gamble’s research and publications, which he intends to recommit to after he steps down as president later this summer, have been primarily centered on issues of child welfare and juvenile delinquency.

“I am touched by the board’s insight in bestowing this particular honor,” Gamble said. “My career has always been about combining scholarship with service.  The Mercyhurst Civic Institute has been doing that very well for over 15 years, always striving to use knowledge to enhance the wellbeing of our community.  I can think of no more meaningful honor than the one the board has generously granted me with this naming.”

Sister JoAnne Courneen, RSM, president of the Mercy NyPPaW Community, had this to say: “By creating the civic institute, Tom not only broadened opportunities for students but began a new way for the institution to serve the Erie community and surrounding area. The civic institute heightened the profile of Mercyhurst in the community, broadened the students’ opportunities and enhanced their educational potential. This type of program provided the impetus to other departments to offer similar types experiences.  It is education at its best. And now a major emphasis on campus.”

At Friday’s dinner, the board of trustees also recognized the contribution of Gamble’s wife, Mary, to the institution and broader Erie community.

For as long as Gamble has been president, Mary Gamble has curated the annual Friends of Mercyhurst Art Show, establishing a permanent collection of donated works now valued at more than $1 million. The art is displayed in public areas throughout campus where students, employees and visitors can enjoy it year-round.

In her honor, the collection will now be called “The Mary M. Gamble Permanent Art Collection of Mercyhurst University.”

“I’m very grateful to the board for this honor,” Mary Gamble said. “The Friends of Mercyhurst Art Show has certainly been a ‘labor of love’ for me.  I want to thank all those artists who have shared their talent and creativity with Mercyhurst and through Mercyhurst with the Erie community.”

Joining the Gambles at the farewell dinner was their daughter, Mary Elizabeth. Their son, Thomas, lives in Portland, Oregon; and son, Will, in Flagstaff, Arizona, with his wife, Rachel, and their son, Paxton.