Millersville Borough board honors recently retired Francine McNairy
BY DEAN LEE EVANS, Correspondent
Millersville Borough Mayor Richard Moriarty recalled the first time he met former Millersville University President Francine McNairy.
"I drove a firetruck up your driveway," he said Jan. 22.
The recollection of that incident in 1997, which Moriarty referred to as "the infamous fire scare at the provost residence," drew a heartfelt laugh from McNairy.
"You were there to rescue me and my dog," she said of the incident, which resulted from a furnace problem.
McNairy, who served as the university's president beginning in 2003, officially retired Friday.
She was honored during an emotional council meeting.
"Numbers tell some of Francine McNairy's life," Moriarty said.
He defined her long career -- including her time at Millersville University before she became president -- into a series of numbers, such as 50, 17,000, 2003, 167 million and one.
"The numbers come to life and tell a story," Moriarty said. "She was one of 50 African-American students out of 17,000 at the University of Pittsburgh."
He said 2003 represents the year McNairy became Millersville University's president, and the first African-American to lead a state university in Pennsylvania.
"She has overseen a $167 million budget in recent years," Moriarty added.
But the number one was the most important.
"Regardless of the significance of all those numbers, the number one represents her most important number. She always placed her students first," Moriarty said.
Council President Michael Kirkham said, "We are sorry to see you leave, and we hope it's not too far away."
Kirkham, who presented her with a key to the borough, also gave McNairy a gift that drew laughter -- a Pittsburgh Steelers football jersey with the number 13. McNairy was Millersville University's 13th president.
"This (jersey) gives me the ability to replace (Ben) Roethlisberger as the quarterback," she joked.
Millersville Fire Station Chief Keith Eshleman said, "Three days ago, 16 years ago, is when we met one Sunday morning with a firetruck outside your house."
Eshleman gave McNairy a plaque making her an honorary member of the fire department.
Eshleman, agreeing with comments made earlier about McNairy, said. "You have been a true friend to a lot of people in Millersville."
McNairy said, "Millersville, you opened your heart and your arms to me when I came here."
She said the borough and the university both benefit from the close relationship they share.
"We are stronger together," she said. "We are not strong when we're apart."
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