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Hagen gifts $1.5 million, history dept. takes his name

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mercyhurst University will hold a dedication and luncheon on Monday, Nov. 13, to announce the naming of its history department after a prominent Erie business and civic leader for his ongoing generosity to Mercyhurst and his lifelong commitment to historic preservation.

Thomas B. Hagen, chair of Erie Insurance Group, is giving the university $1.5 million, part of which will support the university’s pursuits in the fields of history, specifically its ongoing academic partnership with the Erie Maritime Museum and the U.S. Brig Niagara.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m. in the foyer of Old Main, Mercyhurst President Michael Victor will host a  ceremony to christen the Thomas B. Hagen Department of History. Provost David Dausey will join Victor in offering remarks. A luncheon will follow in the State Dining Room with attendees Hagen, Victor, Dausey, Leanne Roberts, dean of the Hafenmaier College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; History Department Chair John Olszowka; Assistant Professor of History Ben Scharff; Hafenmaier Associate Dean Christina Riley Brown; and Vice President for External Relations and Advancement Cal Pifer.

“Tom Hagen is the ultimate example of a man in service to his community, something that goes to the heart of our Mercy mission,” Victor said. “His storied career and many contributions and achievements at the local, state and national levels are noble examples for all of us to emulate, and we are honored to have our history department take his name.”

Earlier this year, Mercyhurst announced it had become an “Official University Partner” of the Niagara. The Niagara is the Flagship of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a tremendous resource that speaks both to Erie’s historic past in leading our nation, and to its future in transforming the region into a hub of innovation.

This past summer, as part of a new three-credit history course, seven Mercyhurst students lived for nearly three weeks aboard the Flagship Niagara, where they were trained by professional crew members in traditional seafaring skills. Provost Dausey, who is also the executive vice president for academic affairs, said the intention is to expand that learning experience to include not only Mercyhurst students but students from across the nation who could benefit from the opportunity and also earn college credit.

In 2016, Mercyhurst presented Hagen with the university’s highest honor for achievement, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, during the university’s 88th Annual Commencement.

PHOTO: (L-R) Provost David Dausey, Thomas B. Hagen, President Michael Victor, VP Cal Pifer and Dean Leanne Roberts

Learn more about our history department.