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Fifty percent of Mercyhurst faculty engage in scholarship

Friday, March 13, 2015

The faculty-student relationship at Mercyhurst University has long been a source of pride; in fact, graduates of Mercyhurst frequently point to the quality of the faculty and the personal attention they received as the most memorable feature of their university experience.

So, it is no small feat that approximately 50 percent of full-time faculty engage in traditional or public scholarship at the national/international level. The 2014 accomplishments of those faculty members will be celebrated on Friday, March 20, at the university’s annual “Gathering of Scholars” reception at 4 p.m. in Mercy Heritage Room.

Traditional scholarship includes the production of books, papers, articles, and presentations, whereas public scholarship highlights work in the public interest or planned and carried out with community partners, such as exhibits, performances and broadly accessible research results.

In reflection, 2014 was a very good year for Mercyhurst scholars, noted Phillip Belfiore, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs. “The level of scholarship production at a school of our size, particularly one that places considerable emphasis on teaching, small class sizes and the personal attention students receive from faculty, speaks highly of our faculty’s commitment,” he said.

Belfiore said Mercyhurst has carved out a niche between small schools, where faculty are focused strictly on teaching, to the larger “publish-or-perish” universities that demand faculty achieve X-number of publications annually.   

“What we find valuable about scholarship is that it deepens the teaching and, in turn, the student engagement,” Belfiore said. “It enhances our presence in the classroom because we are speaking with a genuine and critical level of expertise.”

During 2014, Mercyhurst saw 47 percent of its 184 faculty members do scholarship; this year, Belfiore said the university is already at 51 percent.

Here is a small sampling of faculty work during 2014: Rich McCarty authored the book, Sexual Virtue: An Approach to Contemporary Christian Ethics; Tom Hubert exhibited at the 20th San Angelo National Ceramic Competition in Texas; Tauna Hunter traveled to Shenyang, China, to present a master class for the Liaoning Ballet; Pete Benekos published the book, The Juvenile Justice System: Delinquency, Processing and the Law (8th edition); Christina Rieger co-edited Motivating Millennials: How to Promote Active Student Reading in an Online Era; Mark and Solveig Santillano choreographed Everyday Graces and presented at the Taejon Christian International School in South Korea; and James Teufel contributed “Rural Health Systems and Legal Care: Opportunities for Initiating and Maintaining Legal Care after the Parient Protection and Affordable Care Act” for the Journal of Legal Medicine. (For a complete listing, visit

During the March 20 scholars’ reception, Orlandrew Danzell, assistant professor of intelligence studies, will be honored as the 2015-2016 Research Fellow. The fellowship entitles Danzell to a course reduction, allowing him time to continue current scholarship and explore new avenues.

Many of the university’s scholarship initiatives involve students. For example, 100 students in the Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies & Information Science in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University recently engaged in a research project on “critical thinking” for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Wash., D.C. Meanwhile, each year, between 100 and 150 Mercyhurst students spanning all disciplines conduct public opinion research through polling at the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics.