Tell us a little about your Dickinson experience.
Arriving on the Dickinson campus in the summer of 1978 from a small town in Pennsylvania was a big step for me that was made easier by the common motivations of many of my classmates. I benefited from a diverse group of dormmates in Adams as well as the rest of the incoming first-year class. Spending the next four years with my teammates on the football team, my fraternity brothers in Sigma Chi, the engaging faculty I had the benefit of meeting and the entire student body helped me develop a lifelong passion for learning and exploring. In the late '70s and early '80s, Carlisle was not the vibrant community it is today, so most of my social life during my years at Dickinson was focused on the Greek organizations and the Quad. Late nights at the Milton or other available eatery after the Quad were always an adventure!
What is your favorite memory from your time at Dickinson?
There is not a single memory of the four years I spent on campus that jumps out. The accumulation of the people, the experiences and the challenges (playing on a football team that went 0-9 was character building!) always bring laughs and smiles when reminiscing with classmates. I look forward to doing that in 2022, as our class celebrates its 40th reunion.
How has Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you?
My college experience is the foundation for my entire career. I entered college with an aspiration to go to law school, but the exposure I received through the interdisciplinary approach of a liberal-arts education opened my eyes to various aspects of the world, which led me to graduate school. I was no different than most 18- or 19-year-olds in not really knowing what I truly wanted to do, and the Dickinson experience instilled in me a desire to learn and explore as well as to critically evaluate opportunities. The multidisciplinary approach of the Dickinson experience also enhanced my decision-making abilities.
Additionally, one of the most impactful experiences during my college years was the opportunity provided through the economics department to do an internship with a finance firm in Harrisburg, several days a week during my junior year. This led me to an interest in business and, ultimately, an M.S. in industrial administration from the business school at Carnegie Mellon University.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Since my retirement last year [as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc.], my wife, Lauren, and I have relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, so exploring the culture and cuisine of this great city has become a passion. We like to travel, and we expect to do more of it as the world returns to normal. I do read history and biographies and also enjoy spending time outside, whether it is hiking the many trails in middle Tennessee, riding my bike or walking the golf course. Finally, we are making every effort to spoil our first grandchild, Myra May Hockanson, who will be 1 in September.
Why do you think it's important to give back to Dickinson?
It is absolutely critical to continue to make the residential, liberal-arts college experience available to all who wish to benefit from it, because developing curiosity, a passion for learning and an ability to communicate effectively are opportunities that I would hope would be available to all, regardless of means or background. By supporting Dickinson’s annual fund, I hope to continue to provide similar opportunities for future students by helping to reduce the burden of tuition to make such opportunities available to as broad a population as possible.
What inspired your own giving to Dickinson?
In the late '80s, I had the good fortune of meeting a young alum in Dickinson’s advancement office by the name of Karen Neely [Faryniak '86]. From my interactions with the team in advancement and development, I gained an appreciation for the challenges facing small liberal-arts colleges like Dickinson. My support of the college is based on the need to continue to provide the quality liberal-arts education that so benefited me, so others can follow a similar path.
What advice would you give to current students?
Take advantage of all that Dickinson has to offer, whether it is study abroad, an internship or participation in clubs or extracurricular activities. These and other broadening experiences help students become better listeners, and listening is the most critical part of good communication. Listening—and the critical thinking that comes with truly hearing what is said—is a talent in short supply.
Published August 2, 2021