Alumna to Pen New History

Annette Ritzko, Web Editor

Agnes Cardoni, a 1969 graduate, is writing a continued history of the university.

Cardoni, who is Associate Professor of English at Marywood University in Scranton,  co-wrote the first history of the university,  “At the Edge of the Centuries, Misericordia University 1913-1999,” with the late Sister Regina Kelly, RSM, whom she credits for being her main inspiration in life.

“I loved working on the first book with her. She was my great teacher here and my inspiration for my academic and spiritual life and really life in general. When she passed away in 2001, that left me with no partner to continue the history. However, as we got to be around 2014 and another chunk of years had passed, I thought it was time to update the history to the 90th year,” said Cardoni.

Cardoni does not plan to address the years after 2014, but she bids good luck to the person who takes up the task after she’s finished. Her theme for the new history is the sense and spirit a place takes on as people inhabit it and change the topography.

“Certainly, those are things that are easy to see at Misericordia because so many people that I have interviewed have talked about how everything begins with the arch, such as ‘I go through the arch and I get happy’ or ‘feel at peace’ or ‘that was when I realized I wanted to go here,’” Cardoni said.

Cardoni said the land is inhabited differently now than it was when she was a student. She may not believe in fairies or gremlins, but she does believe that a spirit inhabits Misericordia that is unlike any other, and  it arises from the way people live, talk to each other, pray and work on the campus grounds.

Due to her focus on spirit of place, the working title of her book is “Spirit of Place: Misericordia 2000-2014.”

With teaching her main priority, and being a self-proclaimed slow writer, Cardoni is only half finished writing the new history. She will get to the years after 2007-2008 soon and will concentrate on changes to buildings and grounds, the growth of the health sciences and the expansion of the university into Dallas. The history will end with the transition of presidents Dr. Michael McDowell to Dr. Thomas Botzman.

Jessica Kisenwether, Assistant Professor of Speech-Language Pathology, said she was  surprised in the growth of her department since she attended as a student.

“I received an excellent education while here as a student, but the facilities and resources have changed dramatically.  In a short time, the department has grown in number and educational opportunities for our students.  Continued support from the faculty, staff, and administration over the years has allowed this department to provide an ​environment in which our students can flourish.  I am proud to say that we are nationally recognized,” said Kisenwether.

She said the people have stayed much the same.

“As a student, I appreciated the relationships I was able to build with my professors, related staff, and peers throughout my education.  Now, many of those relationships remain and I find the same ease in building new ones with colleagues and students,” said Kisenwether.

Glenn Bozinski, Director of Admissions, has worked at the university since 1989, and he said he appreciates the types of students who have always been attracted to the campus.

“The type of students has stayed the same over the years. They have always been very involved, high-quality people. They go beyond their education and reach out to the community inside and outside of Misericordia,” said Bozinski.

Cardoni said the university attracts students who are interested in excellent teaching.

“Dr. McDowell’s trinity of learning was excellent teaching, great professional preparation, and a dedication to service in the world, which I think is the perfect trifecta,” said Cardoni.

Most of Cardoni’s favorite memories included Sister Regina Kelly and being at student in her classes, but she also fondly remembers the library as it once was.

“The part of the library that was my special place to study is now the Founder’s room in Mercy Hall, so when I go into the Founder’s room I look to the left of the bow window and I think ‘That’s where I studied Chaucer’ and as I move around, I think ‘That’s where I sat to study French.’ I loved that and my teachers and my English major friends, and I just loved being here.”

Having been the first generation in her family to go to college, Cardoni was thrilled the first day she stepped on campus. She even remembers what she wore.

“I had my dark purple skirt and a flower blouse to match, which was the way we dressed, and of course stockings, and probably loafers and a matching sweater. It was so sixties it wasn’t even funny.”

“And we had to line up on the steps leading into Walsh auditorium and I just thought ‘Oh my goodness, I’m in college!’ I was very excited,” said Cardoni.

Like the first history, copies of the new text will be available in the library and bookstore and anywhere else President Botzman wishes to place them.

Cardoni hopes students will read it with humility, respecting those who made the effort over the years to make Misericordia what it is.

“I say find the oldest thing on campus that you can find, maybe a room in Mercy Hall, and look around and know that there were people who created this space for you. They didn’t know you, but they knew that you would come and that tremendous act of generosity by donors big and small make Misericordia possible and that we should be in awe and in praise of that,” Cardoni said.