President's Updates

May 2019

As we race toward the end of the first year of my presidency, I marvel at how time has flown by so quickly. Seems like only a week ago that we had the garden supper followed by inauguration and then the commencement ceremonies. Reflecting on the people I have met and the events that I have attended in the past 10 months, all I can say is that Millersville University is a great place to be because of its people.

Earlier this week at the President’s Council meeting, I heard wonderful reports about major accomplishments from every division on campus and exciting plans for next academic year. While it may be hard to exceed the exhilaration of my first year, I believe we are poised to make significant strides next year based on what I heard.

This past weekend’s commencement activities were impressive. As students walked up to the platform to receive their diplomas, I saw the bright and smiling faces of people who are going to change the world. Our keynote speaker’s message was on point and conferring an honorary doctorate to one of our most distinguished alumni was priceless.

My gratitude goes to everyone on campus for helping to launch our graduating seniors into the world—in classrooms, in residence halls, in campus workplaces, and on sports fields—you’ve made a difference in their lives and have played a role in their development. I am equally grateful to our alumni, friends, community leaders and supporters, who have shown their commitment to our University in so many ways.  

Finally, to celebrate a successful year, I want to remind everyone about our All Employee BBQ.  I hope to see you tomorrow at noon at the Quad as we reflect on the 2018-19 academic year and enjoy the company of our colleagues.


This past weekend, I had the privilege of taking part in my first spring commencement at the ‘Ville. What a thrill for me to celebrate this special time with so many Marauders and their families. On Friday, 208 graduate students, including 10 doctoral candidates, crossed the stage to receive their degrees at Pucillo Gymnasium.

There were many incredible stories in the room, one of which was shared on stage by Andrea Lillo Mast ’19, who earned her master of education in mathematics, and offered the Moment of Reflection. She began her journey at Millersville as an undergraduate student on an international scholarship from Chile. Many of her family members flew in to witness her achievement. She said she doesn’t believe her degree, or the title that comes with it, “means anything if we do not give back to those who need us, those who are waiting for an opportunity like I did.”

The following day, 976 undergraduate students received their degrees during the ceremony on Chryst Field. Of those, 23 received summa cum laude, our highest honor; 18 veterans graduated and four ROTC were commissioned. I was pleased to see large numbers of faculty at both ceremonies. It shows just how invested we all are in our students’ success.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera shared wisdom with our graduates and esteemed alum Dr. Hugh Herr ’90 received an honorary degree. I thought the words from Markisha Peace, who gave the Moment of Reflection at the undergraduate ceremony were quite poignant, “The real success in life comes when you believe in yourself and in the beauty of your dreams. Every last one you are champions...the winner and the warrior.”

Congratulations graduates! I can’t wait to see what comes next for you.

View Commencement Highlights

One Book, One Campus

With the end of classes many of you will be taking vacations, spending time at the shore, and sitting outside as the temperature (finally) warms up. I recommend that before you head out, pick up a copy of “Homegoing.” It’s the One Book, One Campus selection for our incoming students. 

Many thanks to the faculty, staff and students who serve on the One Book, One Campus Program committee for their hard work choosing "Homegoing" as the selection for 2019-2020. The program strives to build a culture of reading on campus, with an emphasis on picking texts that will engage and challenge our students and allow our community to engage with important issues on a local, national and global level.

Written by a Yaa Gyasi, a Ghanaian-American author, “Homegoing” is a historical novel that traces the paths of two half-sisters who are unaware of each other and whose lives follow drastically different paths. The novel begins in eighteenth century Ghana, where one half-sister marries an Englishman and goes on to lead a life of comfort in a castle while her half-sister is captured, sold into slavery and held in that same castle.

Following the paths of the sisters through eight generations and various landscapes, the novel "shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed into the soul of our nation" (quotation from Penguin Random House website). “Homegoing” is winner of the PEN/Hemingway award 2017 for Best First Novel, among several other literary honors.

You can pick up a copy of “Homegoing” in the University Bookstore.

All-Employee Barbecue Friday, May 17

I hope you will join me later this week for our all-employee barbecue for faculty and staff to celebrate the end of the academic year. It is set for Friday, May 17 from noon until 2:30 p.m. on the Quad (Marauder Courts in case of inclement weather).

In addition to food, games, music and photo opportunities, we will be celebrating the contributions of more than 500 employees who reached a Marauder Milestone between 2014 and 2018. Recipients, who were notified via letter, may visit the Marauder Milestone table to collect their award. 

We will post the entire list of employees and their service on Millersville News after the event, but I wanted to call your attention to four people who have been here for 40 years or longer.

Rita Miller, the associate director of Housing & Residential programs hit her 40th anniversary with the University in 2016. Deborah Sowers, administrative assistant in the McNairy Library and Learning Forum reached 40 years in 2018. Richard Hess, a custodial worker in housekeeping celebrated his 45th year with the ‘Ville in 2017. And, in 2017, English Department faculty member Dr. M.P.A. Sheaffer achieved a notable 50 year Marauder Milestone.

A heart-felt thank you to these four for being with us and contributing to the success of Millersville University.

Exciting Spring Season for Marauder Athletics

What an exciting spring season it was for our Marauders! I could not be more proud of the heart and determination exhibited by our women’s track and field team in becoming the PSAC Outdoor Championships’ runner-up. We needed our 4x400-meter relay team to beat Shippensburg in the very last event, and it was exciting to watch senior Clara Forney chase down the field to win. I also congratulate senior Sunflower Greene on winning three more PSAC Championships in the shot put, discus and hammer throw. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in the history of Millersville.

On the baseball field, our team has earned the right to host an NCAA Atlantic Regional tournament at Cooper Park. I am excited to bring this event to campus beginning today, May 16, and show fans from around the region what Millersville is all about. I encourage you to stop by Cooper Park and support the team in this historic event.

There were many other outstanding athletic accomplishments this spring. Congratulations to Coach Cindy Wilson for leading the women’s lacrosse program to the PSAC Tournament in her first season. Coach Matt Helsel has the tennis teams on the rise. Both the men and women’s teams reached the PSAC Tournament. Coach Scott Vandegrift and the men’s golf team deserve special recognition for reaching the NCAA Super Regional for the seventh consecutive season.

Our Marauder teams are winning on the field but most importantly in the classroom and in the community. We welcomed a local boy, Owen Brazleton, to campus for a softball game in April and assisted in his Make-A-Wish reveal. It was a memorable day, and I thank each person who represented Millersville and helped make the Brazleton family’s day one to never forget!

Summer Institutes for Educators

Summer is the time for many to catch-up on reading, relaxing and being with families. For educators, summer is often the time they catch up on their own learning.

As most of you know, Millersville University began as a teacher’s college, and educating educators is still at the base of what we do. Every summer, we host the Summer Institutes for Educators. These programs are designed for local teachers, school counselors, administrators and related service providers to expand their critical thinking on a variety of educational topics. It’s a wonderful opportunity for members of our local community to further their careers and become better acquainted with Millersville! The best part is that these institutes offer three graduate credits that can be applied to a Millersville University master’s program.

The rigorous institutes are run by members of our impressive Millersville faculty, and the diversity of participants lends itself to rich, engaging cross-disciplinary discussions. Institutes are coordinated by the College of Graduate Studies and Adult Learning, which collaborates with local school districts and intermediate units to identify the most critical topics for educators’ professional development.

A sampling of this summer’s offerings include:

  • “Trends Art Ed: Trauma-Informed,” June 17-21
  • “Disability Leadership Institute,” June 24-28
  • “Media Literacy Institute: Data Fluency,” July 15-19
  • “ESL: Addressing the Needs of Students and Teachers in K-12,” July 22-26

Get the full list of institute topics

Millersville’s Engagement

One of the signature programs on our campus is Civic and Community Engagement, our primary vehicle to foster and coordinate civic engagement and community-based research.  Many of our faculty and staff have contributed to this effort, and I’d like to focus attention on our University’s efforts in the southeast section of Lancaster City.

Our Center for Public Scholarship & Social Change partnered with the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) to conduct a survey of residents of southeast Lancaster City. This is part of a resident-driven planning process that the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation has funded at SACA.  Also through Civic and Community Engagement, we work with the SouthWest (SoWe) Lancaster Neighborhood Revitalization initiative. SoWe projects this past year included:

  • MU students assisted teachers and administrators at SoWe Lancaster's Price Elementary school during their Kindergarten Orientation program. 
  • Students from Dr. Karena Rush's class painted a room at Price Elementary.  
  • Two students from Dr. Kim Mahaffy’s Latino Studies course volunteered with SoWe’s Board members at a Thanksgiving food distribution program.
  • Eleanor Hammes, a senior communication/PR major, served as a SoWe communications intern during the fall semester, and Laddie Springer, a junior sociology major, served in the spring semester. They assisted in engaging and informing SoWe residents through social and traditional media.
  • Experiential Learning & Career Management received a three-year award from Campus Compact New York & Pennsylvania for an AmeriCorps VISTA project for the SoWe initiative.
  • Mary Glazier is assisting SoWe leadership in collecting and analyzing data provided by Lancaster Bureau of Police.
  • The Center for Public Scholarship and Social Change graduate assistants provided assistance by promoting events for residents of the SoWe target area, conducting an assessment of recreational needs and resources for school age children and attending committee meetings as needed.

Thanks to all the Millersville students, faculty and staff have been involved in these excellent community building projects.

Summer’s Top Construction Projects

Our facilities team has been busy this semester working on improvements around campus, and they will not be slowing down this summer. The hardworking members of our Facilities Management Department maintain the beauty of our campus and their work is quite impressive. Our Assistant Vice President for Facilities, Thomas Waltz identified the top projects scheduled for completion this summer.

  • Renovations to Lyle Hall – The Financial Aid and Student Accounts offices will be consolidated to create a one-stop shop for our students.
  • Installation of street and parking lot lighting – This project will contribute to the safety and security of our campus. Millersville recently took the top spot on Your Local Security’s list of the safest college campuses in Pennsylvania and we want to keep it that way.
  • Pucillo Drive repairs and paving – A significant portion of Pucillo Drive, from Creek Drive through the entrance to the Penn Manor parking deck, will be repaired.
  • Club de ‘Ville upgrades – This fun project will enhance the Club de ‘Ville student lounge in the Student Memorial Center. A gaming station for X-Box, PlayStation and computer games, where students can gather and compete, and a new canteen will be added.
  • Biemesderfer Stadium sound system installation – Clair Brothers has donated a portion of the Penn State Beaver Stadium speaker array for installation at Chryst Field. This project will greatly improve the sound quality at the stadium and it will be ready by the time we host the 2019 NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championships.
  • Restroom renovations in McComsey and Bassler Halls – This project will include a complete aesthetic refresh of these dated, high-use facilities.