Gannon READS program brings new universal themes and ideas to campus

Gannon University has introduced a new reading program for the 2017-18 acedemic year to enhance the first-year experience.
The program, Gannon READS, stands for Gannon Reading Enhances Awareness of a Diverse Society.
The program consists of a common text amongst the entirety of first-year students. This year the book that will be used in first-year seminar classes is called “Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Me.” According to the Rev.Shawn Clerkin, a professor of theatre, the book was chosen by administrators, faculty, staff and students. These individuals chose the text by reading recommendations from Gannon, as well as looking into what was read on other campuses.
Julia Baumgarner, a freshman biomedical engineering major, said she has already begun reading the text and greatly approves of the choice made by the group.
The text revolves around the victim of gun violence and his unknown attacker. Jerry McGill, the author of “Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Me,” reveals real-life struggles of fear, anger and forgiveness through his story.
Clerkin said that this particular text will make students think in a new way that many may not be used to.
“Jerry McGill’s ‘Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Me’ challenges readers to both empathize with the victim of gun violence as well as appreciate his journey to forgiveness,” Clerkin said. “We hope the audience of the book and of the author’s lecture on campus recognize the power of reconciliation and expand their appreciation of the diversity represented in our culture.”
Clerkin said that the program is used across many college and university campuses, so Gannon has adopted the program to enhance the student experience.
“They help create unity in themes and thoughts on campus, help to inspire binds with the institutions and help encourage the strengthening of learning communities,” Clerkin said.
Although the program will be included in the first-year experience through first-year seminar classes, all students are welcome to take part in the reading and future event that will take place.
Clerkin said that he hopes all students will get involved and engaged.
McGill will hold a presentation at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, in the Hammermill Center. Before the presentation, he will speak in classes and small groups around campus.
Baumgarner said she is anticipating the upcoming event, as it will give students an opportunity to understand the author on a deeper level.
“I appreciate that students will be able to meet the author of the book,” she said. “I am looking forward to hearing Jerry McGill speak and learn further about him personally.”
The themes of the text will be further discussed in first-year seminar classes on campus. Students and staff are encouraged to attend the presentation by McGill.

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