'Watch Your Wallet Roast' to celebrate MacDowell presidency

The roast is Saturday, June 1.
The Misericordia University family and members of the community are coming together on Saturday, June 1 at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs beginning at 7:30 p.m. for Michael A. MacDowell’s “Watch Your Wallet Roast,’’ a retirement celebration that will raise money for the Dr. Michael and Tina MacDowell Endowed Scholarship, and the First Lady’s Campus Beautification Project.

Misericordia and members of the community will acknowledge and celebrate his contributions to the region, to higher education and to Misericordia University during a fun-filled evening. The roast includes a series of surprise guests who will provide unique and colorful glimpses into the president’s life and overall career.

“Join us for a good time at Mike MacDowell’s expense,’’ Susan Helwig, vice president of University Advancement at Misericordia University, said tongue-in-cheek. “We will be raising money for two worthwhile causes that will benefit future students while also taking a humorous look into Mike’s life through the words of those closest to him. We will be easy to find at the casino: Simply, follow the sound of non-stop laughter to our gala event.’’

Tickets for the “Watch Your Wallet Roast’’ are $125 per person, which includes a cocktail hour, dinner and an open bar. Proceed from the roast benefit the MacDowell Endowed Scholarship Fund and the on-campus beautification project. For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, please call Marie Stolarick, assistant director of cultural and special events at Misericordia University, at (570) 674-6418.

The MacDowell Endowed Scholarship will be awarded for the first time in 2014 to an academically eligible and financially deserving high school student from the greater Wyoming Valley who has exhibited a passion to serve others.

Michael and Tina MacDowell announced in April 2012 that they will retire June 30, 2013 after serving 15 years and helping Luzerne County’s oldest college and newest university become regionally acclaimed and nationally recognized for providing the challenging academics and opportunities students need to succeed.

President MacDowell has led the Religious Sisters of Mercy-sponsored University into the top tier of the Best Regional Universities North category of U.S. News and World’s Report’s annual edition of Best Colleges, and successfully managed its evolution from a college to a university on Aug. 24, 2007 featuring master’s and clinical doctoral degree programs. Misericordia also has been recognized regularly by the Princeton Review as one of the top universities in the northeastern United States; by Washington Monthly magazine for community service and social mobility; and has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction by the Corporation for National and Community Service. MU’s own students routinely give the institution high marks in the National Survey of Student Engagement.

Since his arrival in July 1998 from Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., President MacDowell has overseen a remarkable and continuous rise in traditional and non-traditional student enrollment, student quality and the transformation of Misericordia’s upper and lower campuses. Misericordia has established a true town-and-gown relationship with Back Mountain communities, as the University has repurposed vacant buildings and transformed them into the Rasmussen House and the Pauly House for the Women with Children program, the Art Studios, multiple student residences, including the Machell Avenue Residence Hall, and John J. Passan Hall — home of the University’s high-tech College of Health Sciences, the Speech-Language and Hearing Center, the Erwine Nursing Lab and Classroom, the Physical Therapy Center, and the new Patient Assessment Laboratory in the Passan Hall Annex.

The blueprint of the main campus also has changed dramatically. President MacDowell’s first undertaking was to complete the fundraising for the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library which opened in 1999. The next project was the partial remodeling of the historic Administration Building, which was built in 1924. It was rededicated as Mercy Hall in honor of the founders and sponsors of Misericordia in 2002. The upper campus’ physical environment has been complemented with Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall, an academic building which houses classrooms, faculty offices, the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery, and music ensemble and practice rooms. The University’s theater was remodeled and named Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall in honor of Sen. Charles Lemmond and his family. Two new residence halls — one named for long-time Trustee Monsignor Andrew McGowan and the 118-bed Michael and Tina MacDowell Hall that was dedicated in the fall — have also been added to campus.

Extensive renovations and additions to athletic facilities, including a new fitness center, Mangelsdorf Field, Metz Field House, Tambur Field and tennis courts, also were undertaken during President MacDowell’s tenure. Overall, nine new or renovated buildings have been added to Misericordia’s campus during his time at MU.

The accomplishments of the University would not have been possible without the president’s tremendous fundraising skills. The endowment – which stood at $7.6 million in 1998 – has grown to more than $27.4 million and the annual fund exceeds $1 million. In total, almost $39 million has been raised from private sources and $21 million has been granted from government sources during his presidency. The University recently completed the successful Pursuit of Acclamation campaign in which $7.5 million was raised to support the construction of a new residence hall and field house, along with upgrades to the University’s athletic facilities – $1 million more than the original goal.

The University has maintained its momentum in student recruitment as well. When the MacDowells arrived in 1998, Misericordia enrolled 1,050 full-time students. For the spring semester, the campus has 2,913 students working on undergraduate, master and clinical doctorate degrees in full- and part-time formats. Freshman quality, as measured by rank in class, grade point average and SAT scores, also has continued to rise.

Remaining true to Misericordia’s mission, President MacDowell has been very active by offering his time and talent to the greater NEPA community and to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He is the past vice chair of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, where he remains on the board. He is the past chair of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Consortium of Colleges and Universities and is a past vice president of the Northeast Pennsylvania Boy Scout Council.

President MacDowell works in support of thoughtful planning and economic growth in the region. He was instrumental in establishing the Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce, the Back Mountain Community Partnership and Back Mountain Historical Association. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett appointed him to the 31-member Commission on Postsecondary Education that studied how to make higher education more accessible and affordable for students and taxpayers of the commonwealth.