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Gamble announces retirement from Mercyhurst presidency

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D., president of Mercyhurst University, announced to the university community today that he will retire on May 31, 2015, marking nearly a decade of distinguished service as the university’s 11th president and a 30-year affiliation with the institution. He will, however, remain at Mercyhurst to pursue other academic interests.

“It has been an enormous privilege to serve as president of an institution that I love and where all three of my children received their education and degrees,” said Gamble, who turns 68 next year. “My first professional loves have always involved learning, teaching, research and writing and I desire to spend the last several years of my tenure at Mercyhurst in those activities, which are a genuine source of joy and rejuvenation for me.” 

Prior to Monday’s public announcement, Gamble advised the Mercyhurst University Board of Trustees at its fall meeting on Saturday, Oct. 11, that he would not seek an extension of his contract, which expires at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. However, he did agree to stay on longer if necessry to allow for an orderly presidential search and transition.

“Dr. Gamble has been a transformative president for Mercyhurst and we are deeply grateful for his many years of dedicated service,” said Board Chair Marlene Mosco. “Since he was appointed president in 2006, he has been the driver behind many bold decisions, including the transition of Mercyhurst College to Mercyhurst University in 2012, changing the academic calendar from three terms to a traditional semester system and introducing a new core curriculum in 2013.”

Mosco said a national search for the university’s 12th president would commence immediately.  She named Mercyhurst alumni and trustees Joseph G. NeCastro ’78, chief financial and administrative officer for Scripps Networks Interactive Media, Knoxville, Tennessee; and Richard A. Lanzillo, ’83, shareholder of Knox, Gornell, McLaughlin & Sennett, PC, Erie, to lead the search.

“We have two of the brightest and most respected minds on the board heading the search,” Mosco said. “They were top academic and student leaders at Mercyhurst who went on to become trustees, corporate and legal leaders from their professions and communities.  Both will garner great respect within the institution and with potential candidates.”

Mosco said NeCastro and Lanzillo will establish a university-wide representative search committee in the near future.  The search is expected to take approximately six months.

Among Gamble’s many achievements as Mercyhurst president are establishment of an international campus in Erie’s Sister City of Dungarvan, Ireland; construction of the $15 million Warde Residence Hall; the purchase and renovation of the Janet Miller building in North East to include the $1.2 million Hirtzel Human Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology Laboratory; and construction of the $10 million Center for Academic Engagement, which houses the nationally acclaimed Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies and Information Science, also created during Gamble’s tenure.

Under Gamble’s leadership, Mercyhurst became home to the Thomas J. and Michele Ridge (archival) Collection as well as the Helen Boyle Memorial Archive in Honor of Joan D. Chittister, OSB. Also during his tenure, Mercyhurst established the Myron Jones Center for Media Convergence; created 11 institutes of excellence, including the Center for Applied Politics and the endowed Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society and the Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies; developed six graduate programs, including the university’s first doctoral program (archaeology); and created the School of Health Professions and Public Health.

As Mercyhurst president, Gamble was instrumental in facilitating numerous town-and-gown partnerships, especially as they applied to strengthening Erie County neighborhoods and eradicating poverty. True to the Mercyhurst mission and the legacy of its founding Sisters of Mercy, Gamble was at the forefront of establishing the urban education initiative at the Booker T. Washington Center to bring higher education opportunities to underrepresented groups.

During his presidency, Gamble’s wife, Mary, began and subsequently curated the annual Friends of Mercyhurst Art Exhibit, which is showcased in Old Main every fall. Besides raising artistic awareness university-wide and creating visibility for regional artists, the exhibit amassed a private permanent art collection for Mercyhurst valued at more than $1 million. 

Prior to his selection as university president, Gamble was vice president for academic affairs at Mercyhurst. He is a former director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Child and Family Policy and founding director of the Mercyhurst Civic Institute. He began his teaching career at Mercyhurst as an adjunct faculty member in 1985 and became a full time professor of criminal justice and psychology in 1997, earning tenure in 2003.

Before joining Mercyhurst full time, he was affiliated with the Erie County Office of Children and Youth (OCY) from 1983-1997, as director of the Edmund. L. Thomas Center and director of Professional Services. He became executive director of OCY in 1988.

Gamble holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Gannon University, a master’s and doctorate in psychology from Syracuse University and a second doctorate in social psychology from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, one of the top public policy schools in the county. He was a postdoctoral Fellow in child psychology at Yale University from 1982-84.