Chicago Heights, IL–(ENEWSPF)– More than one hundred people attended a reception at Prairie State College to pay tribute to now former President Paul McCarthy’s career and legacy. Many saw the ceremony as uplifting, with a side of humor.
McCarthy was described as an inspirational leader devoted to his job and those with whom he had the opportunity to work. Some also cited that McCarthy made PSC a student-friendly institution and played a major in the development of the student convocations – an annual event that welcomes new students to PSC.
The Student Government Association presented McCarthy with several gifts, including four books of great leaders – Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Walt Disney and John F. Kennedy. Bryce Johnsen, SGA president and one of many who led efforts to keep McCarthy at PSC, said the gift was meant to show that McCarthy himself exemplifies a great leader.
A slideshow highlighted McCarthy’s career at PSC and revealed some of his work that dated back to his inception as President in 2000. One of the slides showed his involvement in the development of the health building in 2001. Gwen Dean, Dean of Health Professions and the Director of the Nursing said, “Dr. McCarthy has been a strong supporter of the PSC health program. The Health Tech Center provided much needed things to the dental hygiene program, the new surgical technology program, EMT first responders, and other programs. He also supported the purchase of an item for the nursing program, which brought cutting edge technology to PSC.”
McCarthy was also recognized for the development of the Adult Training and Outreach Center (ATOC). One slide showed McCarthy and others at the 2004 ground breaking ceremony for the ATOC. Terri Winfree, Vice President of Community and Economic Development said, “We were fortunate to be the first in the state of Illinois to have a building dedicated to non-credit students. When Dr. McCarthy was here, he was very personally involved with the people.”
Meanwhile, Robert Fairbank, director of physical education and athletics, sang McCarthy’s praises. “I want you to go away thinking what a profound and positive influence you have been on our athletic department. From all of our coaches and all of our student athletes, thank you very much.”
Speaker after speaker – faculty and staff – had inspiring stories to tell of how McCarthy supported them and contributed to the various activities that have bettered the college. Board member Kathleen Doyle said that “because of Dr. McCarthy, I was able to do the type of leadership I dreamed about.” She said the one trait she saw McCarthy from the first time she met him five years ago was integrity.
Before McCarthy took the stage to respond, his executive assistant, Pat Trost, described what it was like to work for McCarthy.” It has been an excellent experience. Since Dr. McCarthy is such a strong leader, I had the opportunity to learn a lot from him during the seven and a half years I worked for him.” He was down to earth and easy to talk to, she said.
McCarthy thanked everyone for their support and generosity over the years. In my final interview with him before the reception ended, McCarthy said, he would miss heading up this team of faculty, administrators and staff, who work hard to help students succeed. Admitting that it is hard for him to leave, he said, “It’s like being traded to a different team after winning the Stanley Cup, but to another championship team.”
A photo gallery from the event can be found here. (Photos by Wendy Heise)