The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Persico reflects on first weeks with Gannon

The Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, new bishop of the Diocese of Erie and chairman of Gannon University’s Board of Trustees, has provided students with the opportunity to get to know him better. In an interview with The Knight, Persico related his feelings toward what he has already experienced on campus and his hopes for the future of the university. The Gannon community is invited to visit for more information on Persico, including a biography, an interview and recounts of his ordination on Oct. 1.


The Gannon Knight: Have you had the chance to see Gannon and spend any time on campus?

Bishop Persico: As a matter of fact, I was on campus maybe two or three weeks ago. Dr. Taylor invited me there for a day of orientation. So we did that and had lunch and then he took me on a walking tour of the campus.

Story continues below advertisement

GK: What did you think?

BP: I found it intriguing, the campus, in the fact that I like the idea of having something right in the heart of the city, where it would provide numerous opportunities for the students, and the fact that many of the places they can get around to they could walk and not have to worry about parking or cars or something like that. It’s a different campus that what you think of in a lot of universities, but I think it has its own thing to offer, too.

GK: What do you perceive your role to be as the chairman of Gannon’s Board of Trustees?

BP: I think the chair of the board has one of the big responsibilities of making sure that the university does follow its mission, that it’s grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition, that it follows what’s necessary for the Catholic identity of the university, which is very important to me. I would see, too, my role in making sure the university is faithful to intellectual and academic excellence, that it’s a competitive university as far as the academics go, and, too, making sure that it forms the total person of mind, heart and soul.

GK: Is there any aspect of your role that you think you’ll do either the same or differently from Bishop Trautman?

BP: I don’t know enough to change anything, to be honest with you. I have not had a board meeting. I haven’t had the opportunity to really get involved with the university. It’s relatively fresh yet, so I need a little more time to form any kind of opinions.

GK: How much of your time on a day-to-day basis do you predict you’ll be spending on Gannon-oriented work?

BP: Well, Gannon is important to me. It will be as much time as necessary for me to do what I need to do as chairman of the board.

GK: In the past, Gannon’s Board of Trustees meetings have been held behind closed doors. Would you consider opening these to the public?

BP: You know, again, I would really have to experience that and talk to the other board members, and understand the procedures there and everything, too.

GK: What qualities does the ideal Gannon student have in your mind?

BP: That’s an interesting question that you’re asking. And the reason I’m saying that is I want to share with you the experience that I had on my campus tour. As Dr. Taylor was walking with me around campus and showing me the different facilities, I had an opportunity to not meet students, but pass them. And what I noticed – it’s still with me now – is the fact that when I would greet them, smile at them, say hello, some of them would actually turn away and not even respond, which I thought was very unusual. That I was not too happy about. What I also noticed too – I just kind of wanted to test it – I forget what building Dr. Taylor was taking me into; it looked like one of the buildings where students would relax, maybe study and get refreshments. We were going through that building. Well, behind me was a group of students, so I stopped and held the door open for them. Not one of them acknowledged me; they just walked through. I guess I was a little disappointed. Not because I’m the bishop, but because I’m another human being. And I would hope that, coming from a Catholic university, that just basic common courtesy would prevail. When someone greets you, to greet them back. Maybe I’m old fashioned.

GK: Do you think there’s anything we can do as a university to change that?

BP: I think it all depends on the students. The university can’t change that type [of thing]. But I think that as a Catholic university we have to think about what our roots are, and that’s our Christian faith. And granted, not everyone at the university is a Christian, but there’s just that common courtesy, too, that you would be welcoming to the stranger; acknowledge one’s presence, because I think when you’re sensitive to other people’s presence, it shows a certain sensitivity that you would have, and also an openness to other people. And I would like to see Gannon being a welcoming university, so if anybody walks on their campus, the students would greet them.

GK: What is your hope for students who graduate from Gannon, in terms of jobs, further education, etc.?

BP: I hope for the students who graduate that they show they have received a good, solid education at the university and that they are well prepared for any endeavor that they go into, that would be my hope. And that it would also give them a love of academics and also a willingness to share what they received from Gannon University with other people they meet and be proud of the fact that they are graduates of Gannon University.

I’ve been on this meeting and greeting a lot of people, and a number of people have told me that they’re Gannon graduates, and they seem very proud of the fact. Now did I get into a detailed conversation with them about their experience? No. But they’re always, no matter what – they’ve been graduates for a number of years – when they come up to me they acknowledge the fact that they’re Gannon graduates and they’re very proud of it. I’m happy to hear that.

GK: At a Catholic university, where is the line between Catholic and educational experiences, especially in terms of campus events, speakers, etc.?

BP: What kind of a line? Because it is a Catholic institution; there’s no division there. And being an educational university and a Catholic university are not incompatible. We can be both. The bishops have taught that we do not provide a platform for those whose teachings and beliefs are contrary to those of the Catholic Church. That doesn’t preclude academic conversation. But I think that a Catholic institution certainly would not provide a platform for someone who has beliefs that are contrary, especially in those fundamental beliefs, to us.

GK: Any other comments on the university?

BP: I’m very impressed with it, as I said earlier, and I find it intriguing, especially the layout of the campus. I hope to get to know it better and hopefully the students will get to know me better. And at least be able to say hello.



[email protected]

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All comments will be reviewed for language before published on the website.
All THE GANNON KNIGHT Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *