Leaving Behind a Legacy of Improvement


President Michael A. MacDowell poses for a photo in his Mercy Hall office.

Arthur Dowell, Webmaster/ Online Sports Editor

Sr. Jean Messaros, Vice President of Student Affairs and Director of Mercy Integration, stared out her office window and reflected on the campus, one that bares little resemblance to the one she saw 15 years earlier.

Messaros’ gaze lingered over the green grass and the trees brimming with new spring growth, and the sight almost served as a metaphor for the colorful growth of the university at the hands of President Michael MacDowell and his wife Tina.

“Michael has a great love for the campus and made it a priority for him to call it home,” said Messaros. “He and Tina both saw greatness in the place and went about it in great measures over the years.”

While MacDowell may be remembered for the significant building projects and additions to the campus grounds – including a full sports program –  he is well known for his attentiveness to students and their families.

Students and staff  found MacDowell at as many events as he could attend – that was many, indeed. Whether it be a lecture in the Henry Student Lounge or a prominent person speaking in the Lemmond Theatre, MacDowell was there.  The same goes for every open house and scholarly luncheon. MacDowell even had impromptu hallway visits with prospective students and families who toured campus for the first time.

Junior Jimmy Dinkins, business administration major, remembers the first time his family met the president. Dinkins and his family had attended an open house and the MacDowells had taken time for a friendly chat.

“It just showed they cared about everybody who stepped foot on campus,” said Dinkins. “They didn’t just care about me as someone interested in coming to Misericordia, but they cared about everybody I was affiliated with.”

A few months later, the Dinkins family had come back for a scholarship luncheon intended for parties of three. The family of four had make-do plans in mind so Dinkins could enjoy the luncheon without a problem. MacDowell then saw the family and remembered them for the stories they had shared. Without hesitation, MacDowell opened the meal to the entire group.

“Everything I do is in the interest of the students,” said MacDowell. “They are the reason I have enjoyed showing up to work every day for the last fifteen years.”

MacDowell does not shy away from boasting about the accomplishments students have achieved through hard work. He takes a sense of pride when he talks about community service in particular.

“At Misericordia, we have students going all over the world,” said MacDowell. “They do this because they want to, not because they have to.”

Messaros said his enthusiasm and desire went into bettering the lives of students who are searching for a place to enjoy while they receive an education.

A significant example of MacDowell’s support of enjoyment is the President’s Volleyball Tournament held every homecoming weekend.

MacDowell leaves MU with a defeated record of 0-15.

He does this to show that while he is in a position to lead, he is still an everyday person who the students can reach out to.

While MacDowell inarguably gets much of the credit for the growth and beautification of  campus, he will quickly turn the tables and give the credit to people he feels deserve it.

“A lot of work went on behind the scenes to make it all possible,” said MacDowell. “We had some of the smartest and most creative people behind every step. They can really make anything happen when their minds are set to it.”

MacDowell  graduates with the class of 2013.  He will hand the presidential torch to Dr. Thomas Botzman on July 1.  MacDowell is certain he will take one close look at the university and fall in love, just as he did 15 years ago.

“The school will continue to grow and get better at everything it does,” said MacDowell.

Messaros said she is sad to see MacDowell leave.

“I hope he can get into a rhythm and enjoy life with his family and friends.”

MacDowell plans to live in Bonita Springs, FL, and he and his wife Tina will return every summer to their boathouse on Harvey’s Lake because they love the area and the people in it.

When he closes his office door for the last time in July, he hopes to be remembered for “helping Misericordia University achieve recognition as an excellent liberal arts institution with emphasis on practical careers and reputation for serving others.”

The love affair does not end.

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