In the spring semester, Dr. Francine G. McNairy will retire from her countless years working in the education field as president of Millersville University – the same time frame she was appointed the position nine years ago.
It’s only fitting that those who she has interacted with, and ultimately changed, speak on how remarkable her time has been not only on Millersville, but the surrounding area, and much further.
Faculty, friends, administrators, and students joined this ceremony on Sunday, November 4 in the Student Memorial Center multipurpose room, recognizing Dr. McNairy’s accomplishments and achievements.
“The Trustees thought it appropriate to have one occasion where those who make this institution the success it is to have the opportunity to interact with Fran,” said Mike Warfel, chair of the Millersville Counsel of Trustees and a ’84 alumnus. “This is our time to say thank
you for her many efforts.”
During her nine years as the 13th president, Dr. McNairy has made a remarkable impact on the Millersville community, faculty and students alike.
Out of many choices, five representatives of their respective organizations were able to speak on the legacy of Dr. McNairy.
Dr. James McCollum, the chief of staff of the President’s Office, spoke on Dr. McNairy’s cabinet. “During discussions, it is dangerous for anyone to pause momentarily. It is an open invitation to the other cabinet members to fill the void with their perspective of an issue.” Dr. McCollum complimented Dr. McNairy’s “tolerance level” to allow her cabinet such latitude and listen to varying viewpoints.
“My highest tribute,” said Dr. McCollum, “and I say this on behalf of all of us, Fran, is that your humanity eclipses even your exemplary success as president.”
Dr. Charles Ward, APSCUF MU chapter president and associate professor of philosophy, noted that without the absence of Dr. McNairy would be an unwelcoming feeling on campus.
“For me,” Dr. Ward said, “it’s very hard to imagine Millersville without Fran. She has been a real presence on campus during my career here at Millersville University.”
Dr. Ward believes she is a “firm and realistic manager.” Her vision is a positive one as well: that “students have a life-changing experience.” Not only should it open the world to them, but opens their imagination to the future.
Similarly, faculty feels that the university has the same dedication to their time working here. Just ask Dr. Ward, who has talked to many faculty members throughout the state system as the APSCUF MU chapter president.
“This experience has confirmed my belief that for a faculty member, Millersville University is a great place to work,” Dr. Ward said. “It’s a place where we can pursue our commitment to our educational vision with the confidence that we have the support of a president who truly understands and values that mission.”
Ms. Deborah Miller, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) MU chapter president, highlighted the success of the chapter thanks to Dr. Mc- Nairy. “I’ve been involved with the union for 20+ years and I know from experience that communications can only go a long way to avoid conflict and improving our labor relations,” Deborah Miller said. “This is something Dr. McNairy understands.”
This has helped them accomplish many achievements, such as being recognized with a seat at the President Advisory Leadership Council and representatives being permitted to provide assistance for their members and meet with their supervisors.
“Dr. McNairy has made a point of recognizing all staff members, including housekeeping, dining services, the grounds crew, the trades, and clerical,” said Deborah Miller. She has made them feel a part of the campus and gave them a real voice.
Ms. Rita Miller, the State College and University Professional Association (SCUPA) MU chapter president, referenced the ominous number 13. It is included in the titles of horror movies, hotels often avoid including a 13th floor, and there is a diagnostic term for the fear of the number 13. However, Millersville University feels the complete opposite toward the number 13.
“Millersville University forever changed the profile of number 13,” Rita Miller said. “Here at Millersville University, the number 13 became indicative of good fortune, the positive progress of history, a significant milestone of change and advancement. In the spring of 2003, the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education named Dr. Francine G. McNairy the 13th president of Millersville University.”
Last, but not least, Kelly Mathiesen, president of Student Senate, spoke on behalf of all the students and her organization in recognition of Dr. McNairy.
“We will miss you,” Mathiesen said. “Thank you for your warm smiles and greetings. Thank you for taking the time to stop and ask us about ourselves, and showing us that we matter. Thank you Dr. McNairy for all that you have done for us.”
Following the speeches, a musical performance was conducted for Dr. McNairy, boasting a cast of Millersville staff and faculty. Steve Guiseppe, assistant for alumni and communication relations, and Dr. Ruth Beens-Suter, professor of psychology, were the singers. The dances were rehearsed weeks before the ceremony while the songs were popular songs rewrote to fit the occasion, such as “Good Morning Millersville” and “Francine & Team.” Dr. Mc- Nairy was even able to participate in the entertainment when the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion swooped her off her feet, and adorned her in the attire of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. In a long line led by this popular crew were Millersville students, faculty, administration, and whoever else enjoyed the festivity.
Once the festivity ended and Dr. McNairy was able to sit still – as Warfel noted it is not an easy task to do – he revealed a portrait of Dr. McNairy by artist Steven Craighead. “It’s not always easy for an artist to capture the quality of a subject, but I think you will agree with me that he lived up to this test,” said Warfel.
Dr. McNairy, immersed in the support and love for her remarkable impact on Millersville University, took to the podium. “To all of the speakers, I was so touched by your comments and I just don’t know how to say thank you to you, but please note, it’s been a joy, an honor, and a pleasure and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for those wonderful words that will always stay in my heart.”