Gannon Names New President

Lousy weather couldn’t ruin the mood inside Old Main Monday, when Keith Taylor, Ph. D., was announced as Gannon University’s seventh president, after a four-month-long national search that vetted more than 40 candidates.

“It’s a gloomy day outside, but there’s a lot of good energy here in Old Main,” Taylor said, after he was called to the stage by the Most Rev. Donald W. Trautman, bishop of Erie, who announced the selection.

Taylor was approved unanimously by the university’s 15-person Board of Trustees – with help from a search committee – to serve as Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi’s replacement. He will begin serving on July 1, ending Dr. Phil Kelly’s time as interim president, which began when Garibaldi left on Dec. 31, 2010.

Kelly said he is happy to hand the reigns over to Taylor. “He is a man with remarkable energy,” he said. “I look forward to his continuing the positive trajectory that Gannon has been on for the past few years.”

Taylor spent the last six years as provost and vice president of academic affairs for Gannon.He has been instrumental in implementing many of the successful programs and initiatives of the university,” Trautman said of Taylor’s time as provost.

Thomas Panighetti, outgoing president of the Student Government Association, said Taylor’s commitment to the Gannon community made him the best choice.

“We took a look at many candidates from all over the world,” said Panighetti, who served on the presidential search committee. “It was great to find a world-class candidate who is in the building.”

Taylor said he is humbled and honored to accept the position and he has come to love Gannon and Erie in his six years.

“Gannon University is a special place with exceptional and dynamic students, faculty and staff,” Taylor said. “I am extremely grateful for the support of the Board of Trustees and I’m excited about leading this great university into the future.”

Carolynn Masters, dean of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences, said she is looking forward to working with Taylor.

“He truly has Gannon as his passion and has been a phenomenal provost,” she said. “He is a great visionary leader.”

Taylor outlined his vision for Gannon in four points during the conference. These are student success and leadership, faculty excellence and scholarship, community development and globalization.

Taylor mentioned several ways these four initiatives will improve students’ experience at Gannon. He said eventually he wants every student to be able to get outside classroom experience – like an internship – and he wants more students to have the opportunity to study abroad.

“We are hiring someone to work with faculty and students who will work to expand study abroad and to provide financial support,” he said. Taylor said he would like to take the number of students studying abroad from 40 or 50 now to 500.

Taylor said another part of Gannon’s commitment to globalization is in the long run to make 10 percent of the enrollment international students, and in the short run  to support initiatives – like One Green World Café – which he said build relationships between American and international students.

Jason Steinberg, associate director for the international student office, said he is excited for Taylor’s commitment to international students. I really believe in Dr. Taylor’s leadership,” he said. “He has provided the student leaders of One Green World Cafe with strong support.”

Steinberg said he also admires Taylor’s personality. “What I really appreciate, what endears Dr. Taylor to student population is his humility and his ability to connect with students and members of university community of personal level,” he said.

Junior finance Memglong Cai said it’s this facet of Taylor’s personality that makes him a good choice for president.

“I really like his patience for every student,” he said. “He can remember my name.”

Cai said he thinks Taylor has been very supportive of programs that help international students adjust to the American culture.

Arlene Montevecchio, director of the Center for Social Concerns, said Taylor has also been supportive of all the programs that come out of her office that build awareness of social problems on a local, national and global scale.

He lives the values he tries to instill in students, faculty and staff,” she said. She noted his participation in two service trips as an example.

Taylor said he thinks it’s imperative that Gannon stay actively involved in the real world. “Everything we do needs to have a purpose that’s beyond ourselves, whether it be working with a non-profit in Erie, or supporting a parish in Mexico,” he said. “It’s hard not to see how Gannon’s Catholic tradition should not be in service for others.”

Taylor has been directly involved with Erie-GAINS – Erie-Gannon Alliance to Promote Neighborhood Sustainability – since its inception, and will continue to promote it, now that he is president. He said his ability to connect with leaders in the community and bring a larger team together as president will help him continue the mission of Erie-GAINS.

Dr. Duane Prokop, an assistant professor in the marketing program, called Taylor a “service leader,” and said he is devoted to God and the Gannon community. “He’s a very caring people person and a true leader,” he said.

Landis Erwin, incoming Student Government Association president, said she looks forward to working with Taylor, because she said he is easy to talk to, a family man and has a great sense of humor. Taylor said he hopes to use his people skills to get more students involved to strengthen the Gannon community.

“We need to create the fun factor on campus,” he said.

Taylor said the bottom line is that he is a creative and tenacious individual with a vision. “I’d really like to see plans turn into action and action turned into success,” he said. “It’s going to be a great however many years.”

Tessy Pawlowski

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