DALLAS TWP. — Nearly a year after the Misericordia University Board of Trustees selected him to be the school’s 13th president, Thomas J. Botzman was formally inaugurated Friday during a ceremony inside the Lemmond Theater on the school’s campus.
Botzman welcomed the hundreds gathered by offering greetings in 16 different languages. That ability to say hello in multiple languages is a necessity in today’s evolving world, he said.
“This is a safe place. However, our history and mission call us to take risks, to walk away from our safe place in the service of others. It is a joyous day for me when I get to hear from our students about their adventures beyond the borders of campus, some in nearby Noxen or Plymouth, and some far away in Guyana or Jamaica,” he said.
The hour-long-event included bagpipers, a Knights of Columbus honor guard, presidents and other representatives from colleges throughout the state and nation and music by the Misericordia Chamber Singers.
Before he was given the pulpit, the 54-year-old Akron, Ohio, native listened as Bishop Joseph Bambera, elected officials and individuals representing students, faculty, staff, trustees and the Sisters of Mercy took to the podium to share kind words and best wishes.
Among those in attendance for his inauguration were representatives from the University of the Americas in Mexico City, Mexico, where he taught as a Fulbright scholar periodically from 1992 through 1996, as well as delegates representing over 50 other colleges, universities and associations.
State Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, used Botzman’s holding of 12 patents as a theme in her speech.
“Dr. Botzman, as someone whose work resulted in a dozen patents, you obviously have a keen eye for a product without precedent. That is what we have at Misericordia, a one-of-a-kind institution, born from the charitable spirit and impulses of the Sisters of Mercy. The university was founded on faith, has run on faith, and has received and justified many times over the faith of the larger community of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“There is no need for reinvention. Rather, extending the educational mission, building on the tradition and philosophy of service, and reaching farther into the surrounding region for partnerships and problem-solving, these are measures that will enhance the value of the university,” Baker said.
Monsignor John Bendik, the school’s chaplain who gave the invocation, noted that while 13 is viewed as an unlucky number by some, he believes the number will be a lucky one for Misericordia. He noted that in addition to Botzman being the school’s 13th president, he’s also one of 13 children.
Botzman, who noted that his father and many of his 12 brothers and sisters were in attendance, promised those gathered that he will guide the university into its next chapter while still preserving its basic tenets and founding principles.
“You’ve heard about the incredible successes, and struggles of Misericordia University since its founding in 1924. We all recognize that the path has been uncertain with a few detours along the way. The world around us is changing, many times in ways that are contrary to our institutional mission. We’ve evolved from a small college with only a few buildings with most of the courses taught by the Sisters,” Botzman said.
“Many of our alumnae, and I note that alumnae indicates only female students, studied in the traditional fields of nursing, nutrition, and education. And, we now have alumni, indicating that we enroll and graduate both women and men. The campus is much larger yet continues to be a safe place largely removed from a very confusing world. Our fields of study are diverse and fitting of a place that has grown from a college into a young and vibrant university.”