Student Success Center Dean retires after 43 years


A Gannon University alumnus, Ward McCracken understood the best interest of students as an employee. McCracken retired from his position as dean of the Student Success Center when the 2014-2015 school year wrapped up.

Before working in the Student Success Center, he was a resident assistant for two years as a student and the resident director of Wehrle Hall while he worked to obtain a master’s degree in counseling.  McCracken worked with the Registrar’s Office beginning in 1975 and said he witnessed the administrative systems converting from paper to digital systems.

Later, he worked as the vice president of Student Development, starting in 1992, until his title was changed to the dean of Student Development.  McCracken was among the university’s administrators who worked on campus renovations like improvements to the cafeteria and building Waldron Campus Center.

He also worked to improve student organizations by making the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Activities Programming Board (APB) separate groups.

McCracken served as an adviser to the staff of The Gannon Knight – the university’s student-produced weekly newspaper — during his time as dean, working with the editors and business managers. Student Activities was renamed as Student Organizations and Leadership Development at his suggestion.

“The thought was that it was more about leadership than just the activities it provided students,” McCracken said.

McCracken oversaw the job requirements for resident directors become more rigorous as the position went from hiring graduate students to a full-time job that required a master’s degree.  He thought of students who don’t live on campus when he organized the Commuter Life Department after the approval of then-Provost Thomas S. Ostrowski, Ph. D.

McCracken also played a role in the upgrade to the Counseling Office and the additions to the Recreation and Wellness Center.

“The Counseling office was one master’s-level counselor and I am very proud that I was able to convince the administration that we needed a full-time psychologist,” McCracken said.  He said he was able to talk the administration into adding two more psychologists before he left his position.

“I feel that serving the students was what kept me at Gannon for all of those years,” said McCracken, who retired with 43 years of service to the university.

“I am leaving a lot of good friends behind and I had the pleasure of working with a lot of the great people who sacrificed to make Gannon what it is today.”

He added that his reason for retirement was fueled by the desire to spend time with his family and traveling.  Now, he is re-visiting his honeymoon destination with his wife.

“It is time to let the next generation of young administrators take control and make Gannon even a better place for students,” McCracken said.

“I know I am leaving Gannon in good hands.”



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