Gannon University named National Catholic College of Distinction


Gannon University was recognized last month as one of two colleges in Erie to recieve the National Catholic College of Distinction designation for the 2016-17 school year.
The Colleges of Distinction organization is focused on recognizing excellent schools across the country regardless of their size and familiarity. It awards schools the title based on four categories: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes.
The Colleges of Distinction emphasizes Gannon’s “values-centered learning experience” that encourages service and a close-knit community as part of their Catholic identity.
The organization recognizes the service provided by Gannon’s students not only only locally but around the world.
Brent Heckman, a campus minister at Gannon for eight years and director of Campus Ministry, explained why Gannon excels at preparing students for their future.
“As a Catholic University, Gannon takes pride in fostering the development of the whole person,” Heckman said.
“As our nation becomes increasingly religiously diverse, it will become increasingly important for college graduates to have not only have a deeper understanding of their own religious identity, but also, they will need to understand how other people’s religious identity affects the manner in which they engage the world.”
Peter Conley, a junior math major and Eucharistic minister at the Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel, said that the Catholic values that Gannon focuses on transcend religion and bring the community closer instead of being a dividing factor.
“For instance, as the Catholic Church places a high demand on service and charity, Gannon has proceeded to create many opportunities for students to participate in service, such as GIVE Day and Alternative Break Service Trips,” he said.
“Furthermore, as catholic means ‘universal,’ Gannon has opened its doors to students of various nationalities and faiths and encourages all to share and voice their opinions.”
Conley pointed out that Gannon actively works to bring the community together through programs on campus aimed at building bridges between those of different faiths.
“Not only does Gannon support the diversity of faith, it encourages interfaith discussion through bringing in speakers and hosting ‘The Well,’ which is a program that occurs once a month and is meant as a dialogue about faith,” he mentioned.
“In these ways, students at Gannon are able to develop respect and comradery with those of differing views and of differing religions.”
As for the classroom, the organization highlights Gannon’s 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio as a major factor in its exceptional teaching. The smaller ratio offers students a learning experience that is more personal than those at larger universities.
At other schools, major-specific classes for health sciences and engineering may be crowded and overwhelming. Because of the smaller class sizes, students at Gannon can feel more comfortable asking questions in class and also easily find time with their professors at office hours.
“We’re happy to recognize Gannon University for developing skills relevant to graduates’ lives,” said Tyson Schritter in a press release. Schritter is the executive editor for Colleges of Distinction.
“High student engagement in college is one of the keys to a successful undergraduate education. With an increasing emphasis on hands-on learning techniques, Colleges of Distinction applauds Gannon University for practicing methodologies that prepare students for their futures.”
The organization states that its mission is simple: to help parents and students find not just the “best college,” but the right college. By serving as a National College of Distinction, Gannon accepts yet another distinguished honor this year and continues to receive positive publicity and recognition.

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