John Dzik

Letters Sent by Alums and Friends: 
Letters Main > Donna Dougherty Pascali, Class of 1989, former Class Agent

January 16, 2005

Hello Dr Iadarola:

We've met several times at class agent and Cabrini functions. As you may remember, my husband and I have been the Class Agents for 1989 for the last 10 years. Prior to that, we were active in fundraising and assisting Martha Dale with Cabrini events like graduation. We always enjoyed our time on campus; it was like coming back "home". I've always respected your decisions and your plans for enhancing the Cabrini experience and bringing it forward with an aggressive capital campaign, adding new and innovative program offerings, and making it fiscally sound, thereby ensuring its longevity. I believed in the College, its past, present, and future until recently.

It was with great sadness that we resigned our class agent positions yesterday. We had several reasons for doing so which were explained to Robin and Christine via email. However the impetus for doing so was your decision not to renew Coach Dzik's contract. I know that you've heard from some alumni about this decision and you may think this is only affecting the former athletes of the school. I can assure you, it is not. According to an email from Robin two days ago, she said the "reaction from the alumni has been mixed." I'm puzzled by that statement as I've talked with different alumni and the reaction has been one-sided in support of Dzik. It was that one comment that turned around in my mind last night as I tossed and turned.

I know that others have written to you about their first encounter with Dzik and why they attended Cabrini--please don't disregard these letters. You have taught us very well in the annual class agent meeting that it's the alumni support percentage that the corporations are considering when making a decision about whether to give or not to give. You and your staff has asked us as class agents to get our classmates to give, just even something, so that our annual alumni giving percentage increases, and looks impressive when soliciting from corporations and the community. If you read these letters closely, these alums and some parents have written that they will not accept any mailings to their homes and will not donate any money to the College. This goes against the grain of that philosophy, doesn't it?

As I told Robin, just from the class of 1989, you have lost 4 consistent donors. Steve and I have decided not to donate any funds this year. We did not come to this decision lightly--please look at our giving record, we have been consistent donors since 1989. Other consistent donors from 1989 are Pat Zipfel and Dave Butera--both have written letters in support of Dzik.

I have to tell you that I was energized by the current campaign slogan "10, 000 hearts, Education of the Heart." I was energized because I naively believed that Cabrini was the same place that I attended, that it was a sanctuary for both students and staff--that this slogan captured the pure essence of why Cabrini is different. The decision to not extend Dzik's contract changed my impression in a moment. Twenty years of experience changed in an instant. I've been very sad for the past month, I feel very badly that someone who I admire has been badly hurt. I understand that the College cannot release details of the termination. What I can't believe is what John Dzik could have ever done to deserve some an undignified departure after 25 years of service. Knowing him, I can't believe that he would ever be less than professional. After 25 years of dedicated service, he deserves better.

My first experience with Cabrini was through my cousins. Both played men's basketball for John Dzik. I remember going to one of the games in 1983 and hearing John Dzik coaching in Sacred Heart during the game. He was intense and clearly loving what he was doing--you could see it in his eyes. His voice still rings in my head when I think of the old Sacred Heart Hall. I remember leaving the campus, looking at the winding road behind me and thinking that I was leaving someplace special.

The next time I was on campus was a year or so later for an open house. I'm sure you've heard this before but as soon as we turned on the campus from King of Prussia Road, it was all over for me. The winding road surrounded by trees made it seem like we were entering a different world. I was sold before even talking to anyone. Even today, driving up that winding road brings me back to 20 years ago. My father remembers Dzik directing traffic that day. The Admissions Director directing traffic? Someone taught me recently that part of being a great leader is knowing that no job is beneath them, i.e. someone has to take out the garbage. John Dzik did what it took, no matter the task.

During my time at Cabrini, I was involved in so many activities--I truly felt that I was home. I loved the entire experience--so many good things have come out of our experience at Cabrini. For that, I will be forever grateful. Attending Cabrini was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I met my husband, Steve at a pre-enrollment testing day and we've been together for almost 20 years, we met people that would become our lifelong friends, we received a quality education, and we were surrounded by faculty and staff that took their roles seriously to prepare young adults to serve their communities well. We have touted the College as a place to please both student and parent, a place that has it all.

In contrast to many of the other letters that you've received, my husband and I were not athletes. One of my positions was Managing Editor and Sports Editor of the Loquitur during my junior year. I will always be thankful to Coach Dzik for being gracious in granting me interviews--most of them on Saturday mornings when he was at home, so that I could meet my deadlines. Before it was hip for college coaches to encourage their athletes to attend class, Dzik did. Look at the positions held by some of the alums writing on behalf of Dzik on the website, they are a credit, not only to themselves but to Dzik as well. Their letters brought tears to my eyes--it's one thing to have a coaching legacy, it's another to leave a legacy for the kind of person you are and the example that you've given.

When my mother died suddenly in 1997, we were told numerous anecdotes of things that she had done to make people's lives better. She was an unassuming woman, a homemaker, a wife and a mother and part-time crossing guard. It turns out that she left a legacy not only to her husband and children but to the others whose lives she touched without expecting anything in return, just by doing the little things in life that could make a difference for someone.

I'm also curious about why you would create a position for Dzik using his talents as the liaison between the College and the alumni athletes and then turn around a year later and not take what the alumni athletes are saying seriously? Did you think that this decision would be taken lightly by the community? Surely, you couldn't have but since you've spoken very little to the alums in response to the letters, it seems that way.

Cabrini's family-oriented atmosphere was a deciding factor for many alums in attending Cabrini. John Dzik lived out the virtues of the College---and so did many other folks from Cabrini like Martha Dale, Jolyon Girard, Brian Metz, Joe Romano, Carter Craigie--these people are the reason why alums go back. They were and are excellent role models. John Dzik was a vibrant presence for us on campus. He made Cabrini a possibility when many of us thought that we could not afford it. He brought positive recognition to the College long before US News and World Report. He still calls me by name when I visit. This is the difference in Cabrini versus another school---people know people by name, they do not get lost in the shuffle, people look out for one another. People are defending John Dzik now because he did it for us 20+ years ago and deserves at least that.

After reading the letters on the website, I realize that Dzik has left a tremendous legacy already and it has nothing to do with coaching. It has everything to do with mentoring, listening, and living by example. Now, that's a true Education of the Heart, don't you think? Mother Ursula would have been proud.


Donna Dougherty Pascali
Account Manager, United Behavioral Health
(Former) Class Agent 1989