This spring the Mount Mercy community bade farewell to Dr. Jim McKean, professor of English, and Sr. Judith Meyers ’60, director of mission integration, as they retired after 19 and 9 years of service, respectively.
McKean earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from Washington State University. He holds a Ph.D. from The University of Iowa and is a graduate of the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop. His first book of poems, Headlong, won the Great Lakes Colleges New Writer Award in Poetry, and his second, Tree of Heaven, won an Iowa Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, Gray’s Sporting Journal, The Iowa Review, and The Best American Sports Writing 2003.
A soft-spoken and widely-published poet, McKean plans to continue writing poetry, fishing and playing golf in his retirement. He is also working on a new collection of essays. He notes that he will hold a special place in his heart for his students. “I will miss the students the most,” says McKean. “When they come in as freshmen they are shy and unsure of themselves. When they are seniors they are adults. It’s quite remarkable to watch that growth, to get to participate in that.”
Meyers entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1953, and in 1960 was one of the first to graduate from the newly accredited Mount Mercy College. She graduated from St. Louis University in 1966, and served 10 years as vice president for mission integration at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before moving back to Cedar Rapids in 2000 to serve as director of mission integration for Mount Mercy, the Catherine McAuley Center and Mercy Medical Center, eventually being able to serve solely Mount Mercy.
Meyers, who served as Mount Mercy’s first director of mission integration, will miss the uniquely personal facet of working at Mount Mercy. “I’ll miss being a part of the fabric of the College, and getting to work with all the faculty, staff and students,” says Meyers. “I will miss all the wonderful people that come and go; I just love Mount Mercy.”
McKean and Meyers concede that much has changed during their time at Mount Mercy – the faces of the students as well as the faces of their colleagues. But as new people come through the doors and others leave them, both see transformation and continued renewal for the College down the road.
“Mount Mercy’s ambitions have changed,” McKean says. “There are so many things offered here now, from speakers to international opportunities to cultural and academic things.”