University community remains largely silent on Mellow Center controversy


Sarah E. Cruz, News Editor

On Wednesday, March 13, State Attorney General Kathleen Kane indicted former PA State Senator Robert J. Mellow, namesake of the Robert J. Mellow Center for Athletics and Wellness at Marywood University, in an alleged pay-to-play scam involving the PA Turnpike.

The charges include corrupt organizations, bribery, bid-rigging, and conspiracy. The one-time legislator has been serving a 16-month sentence in federal prison for tax evasion and mail fraud since last November.

These latest developments have reignited the debate concerning the many landmarks and locations in the area named after Mellow according to various media outlets.

Blakely borough council voted at its Monday, March 18 meeting to remove his name from Mellow Park. Also, some businesses located on Senator Bob Mellow Drive in Jessup are calling for their street’s name to be changed as well.

Although the Board of Trustees of Lackawanna College voted in November to maintain the name of the Mellow Theater, they have stated that the discussion will resume at their next meeting scheduled for April.

Keystone College is considering changing the name of its Mellow Family Children’s Campus, a laboratory utilized by early childhood and elementary education majors.

According to the Marywood website, Mellow secured $2 million in funding for the construction of the university facility through his position as the Senate Democratic leader. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate at the university’s 2002 commencement ceremony.

Marywood University constituencies have not officially taken a position on the matter nor have they made any recommendations as to whether the facility’s name should be changed.

The executive council of the faculty senate will discuss the issue and contemplate putting it on the general assembly’s agenda for their Friday, April 5 meeting, stated Dr. Edward O’Brien, chair of the faculty senate.

Meghan Cruciani, president of the professional staff senate, said that the matter was not a scheduled item on the agenda for their March 25 meeting, but that it might be discussed as new business.

“I suppose there is the possibility of that being brought up, but no one has brought that issue to my attention as of right now, so I don’t really have any indication that it will be addressed,” she stated.

Sherry Frable, president of the support staff senate, said that the assembly had already had its scheduled meetings for the year, and therefore “will not be taking action or making recommendations on this issue,” she stated.

The Marywood Alumni Association (MAA) will not decide whether to take a stance on the issue until their Saturday, April 13 meeting said Bob Ide, vice president of the MAA.

Nicholas Pesarcik, president of the Student Government Association, said that while the decision whether to rename the center is challenging, it is one that should be reached following a transparent university-wide conversation.

“We feel the best solution would be to have open discussion across the university community, for the facts to be clearly explained to all stakeholders, opinions formed, and a decision made. The SGA is certainly open to hosting a university forum and would welcome dialogue about this issue,” he stated.

The next Marywood Board of Trustees meetings are scheduled for April 19-20.

“I am confident that the naming of the Mellow Center will be discussed, understanding that the board will take this matter seriously and consider the many nuances involved in making such a decision,” said Juneann Greco, communications director.