APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash’s comments as prepared:
Chairwoman Shapira, governors, Chancellor Whitney, presidents, and guests,
This morning, we at APSCUF are still reeling from the news that in the early morning hours last Tuesday, Dr. John Mansfield passed away after a long battle with cancer and concomitant complications. Dr. Mansfield began his career in social work at Hospice By The Sea in Boca Raton, Fla. He later became a program director at Children’s Case Management Organization in West Palm Beach, Fla., before joining the faculty in the social-work department at Florida Atlantic University. In 2001, he joined the faculty at Mansfield University, and in 2014 he was elected president of the Mansfield University chapter of APSCUF.
John, like the vast majority of my colleagues, viewed his membership in the professoriate not as an occupation; he saw it as a vocation. He was kind. He was smart as whip. He was deeply concerned about people. He loved his students. He loved his discipline. He loved his colleagues. He loved his community. He loved Mansfield University. And he loved the work he did on behalf of his colleagues as chapter president. This is not hyperbole. John struggled with his disease for years, and he had some very difficult times. But any time I or others might suggest that he was entitled to step back from teaching and certainly from a leadership position in APSCUF, he would tell us that this was a big part of what he lived to do. He was a fighter. And he always wore a smile and was deeply concerned about others, even as he went through the most difficult of times. He was and he will continue to always be an inspiration.
In an email exchange with his daughter, a student at IUP, she told me that APSCUF was his third family. His first was his actual family, whom he loved to talk and brag about: his wife, Julie Mansfield; his twin daughters, Alexandria and Elizabeth; his two step-daughters, Micaela and Meghan Weber; and his parents. His second was his students, whom he adored and to whom he devoted all the energy he could muster.
John is emblematic of your faculty and also your coaches in their caring for what they do.
Shortly after learning about John’s passing, I was due to attend a press conference being put on by the Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center to announce their new proposal for affordable higher education in the Commonwealth. It was difficult to change focus, but in my head I knew that the subject of that proposal was something that John would have been for. He understood what we all understand: What we do as professors, as members of an academic community, as advocates, as members of APSCUF, are intertwined parts of our vocation.