Clerkin announces retirement

Well-loved professor will be retiring at the end of December to be a full-time vicar at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklin

Anna Malesiewski, Features Editor

The Rev. Shawn Clerkin, co-director of the School for Communication and the Arts at Gannon University, will be retiring from Gannon at the end of the month and taking up a new post as full-time vicar of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklin.

Clerkin has been a presence at Gannon for 40 years – as both a student and a faculty member. He began as a student in the fall of 1981 and graduated in 1986 and went on to teach at Gannon beginning in 1989.

Not only will Clerkin be leaving Gannon, but he will also be leaving his post as vicar at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Fairview.

Clerkin said that this transition came about in response to a need for change. While Clerkin was leaning toward academic administration for many years, he also sought out new positions within different churches. He got many positive responses and churches interested in hiring him, and this caused him to pursue more opportunities in religious ministry.

“I don’t know why they looked at me, because I’m just Shawn Clerkin from Erie, Pennsylvania,” Clerkin said. “But, I am Shawn Clerkin from Erie Pennsylvania, and something about what they needed and what I was able to provide matched.”

However, for many of these ministry opportunities, Clerkin was not the perfect fit.

“In each situation except for the very last one, the person they have chosen has been the ‘not Shawn,’ which is a really great thing,” Clerkin said. “It’s not about hiring the best person for the job, but about hiring the best fit.

“For many years, the default in hiring was always the straight, white male with lots of experience, and it’s nice to know that that’s no longer the default, that the people who are being hired are ‘not me’s,’ and I’m really excited by that and I celebrate that.”

While Clerkin’s new career path is a significant change, it will not be a difficult physical transition for his family because his new post is only an hour outside of Erie. Clerkin’s new job allows all of the members of his family to continue their individual paths.

“It’s not just me stepping into a job, it’s me stepping into a relationship with this faith community,” Clerkin said. “It’s not just about me, it’s about all of us and what we all need.”

Clerkin will still be somewhat involved in the Gannon community, especially through theater and the arts.

“If you were to cut me, I’d bleed maroon and gold,” Clerkin said. “Gannon has been really good to me and I’ve tried to be really good to Gannon and for Gannon in return.”

However, Clerkin said because of his long-standing relationship with Gannon, the change will take some getting used to.

“I love Gannon; I know it’s not the right place for everyone, but it was the right place for me when I was a student, and it was certainly the right place for me to explore my teaching and my artistic side as well,” Clerkin said. “Gannon has allowed me to grow as a professor, as an educator and also as an artist.”

While Clerkin cherishes his time at Gannon, he believes that his departure and the subsequent hiring of his replacement is a chance for there to be a new and fresh perspective in the School of Communication and the Arts.

“This is an opportunity for the university and for the school to say ‘What’s coming next? What do the next generation of students need and how can we bring someone in to address those needs?’” Clerkin said.


[email protected]