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Although new to Gwynedd Mercy University, President Deanne H. D’Emilio, JD is no stranger to Mercy. Prior to beginning her tenure as GMercyU’s sixth president, President D’Emilio spent more than 19 years in various roles at Mount Aloysius College and Carlow University, both Mercy-sponsored institutions. The values and mission that lie at the heart of the Mercy tradition are what brought President D’Emilio to GMercyU, and what serve as her guide as she moves the University forward.
Here, President D’Emilio sits down to tell us a little more about herself and what she’s been up to since arriving this summer.
What attracted you to Gwynedd Mercy University?
First and foremost, the Catholic/Mercy mission and the history and heritage of the Sisters of Mercy. Also, I’m a big believer in and strong advocate for education. It is the gateway out of poverty and critical for an informed citizenry. As we consider some of the narrative, incivility and violence in our country and around the world, an education grounded in Catholic and Mercy values is the antidote. In addition, I am excited about the opportunity to lead an institution that espouses respect for the dignity of all human beings and values the liberal arts. Those are closely aligned with my own values and to lead an institution that emphasizes these values and graduates students who can go out and not only do well for themselves but do well for society is an exciting opportunity.
What has been the biggest surprise since coming to GMercyU?
I’ve been very surprised by the amount of sunshine here. It’s a welcome surprise! It’s much sunnier here than it is in western Pennsylvania. I have noticed it significantly. So has my husband who grew up on the East Coast on Long Island and has always commented on the lack of sunshine in western Pennsylvania.
What are you most excited about?
I’m excited about really building on the potential that is here at GMercyU. The first thing to build upon is really looking at strategic planning and what we can do to move the needle to reach the goals that we want to reach.
How have you been spending the last few months since arriving?
I’ve been listening a lot, just learning. I’ve been really soaking in as much as I can about this community, the people, the Board [of Trustees], the community surrounding the institution. I’ve been getting acclimated to the culture and learning about people’s hopes and dreams for the institution.
What are the next steps?
The next few steps will really be a lot of planning and communicating for how to do a strategic plan well. It needs to be a living, breathing document that really guides our work in a concrete way so that we can measure if we are truly making progress in areas we agreed we want to make progress in. We’re in a very competitive, challenging market so we have to be attentive to really saying that we achieve the goals we want to achieve and if we aren’t doing that, to change course and not wait. I obviously have to also think about outside of the campus, making sure we have relationships with the community, alumni, donors, and that people understand all of the good that is happening here and could happen here.
What is something people might not know about you?
In 8th grade, I was the captain of a team that was on a TV show called Junior High Quiz. That was fun. We competed against other eighth grade teams. It was a quiz show on WTAV Channel 4 in Pittsburgh. I remember being in the studio and the camera light going on. We got a $5 check in the mail. Big money in those days!
*This article was originally published in GMercyU's 2016-2017 President's Report.