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Dr. Catherine R. Gira, 1932-2019

Catherine Gira Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Dr. Catherine Gira served as president of Frostburg State University from 1991 to 2006, 15 years. Prior to that she served as provost of the University of Baltimore.

Dr. Gira has held leadership positions in numerous national and state professional associations. Her leadership positions included: President of the American Association of University Administrators, Vice-Chair of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, Chair of the Maryland Humanities Council, and the President of the Maryland Association of Higher Education. Dr. Gira was elected to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 1997.

The following are some excerpts from an article appearing in the March 29, 2019 issue of the Cumberland Times-News. It is entitled, Former Frostburg State University President Gira dies - University leader remembered as 'extraordinary' " and was written by Greg Larry:

“News of Gira's passing was disclosed Wednesday evening in an email from current FSU President Ron Nowaczyk. ‘I am very sad to report that Dr. Catherine Gira, president emerita of Frostburg State University, passed away yesterday. Dr. Gira served as president here from 1991 to 2006 and left a legacy that launched FSU into its second century.’

Many who knew Gira were offering condolences and remembrances on Thursday. Bill Mandicott, assistant vice president for student and community involvement, has worked at FSU for 30 years. ‘It's a very sad time for us,’ said Mandicott. ‘When we reflect back on her leadership, she was truly a visionary during a period of growth and change at the university. I remember her clearly as a strong academic and community presence who led the institution in a collaborative way.’

Colleen Peterson was the vice president of advancement at FSU during Gira's presidency. ‘She was brilliant,’ said Peterson. ‘I worked for her for almost her entire presidency. She was the most graceful and intelligent women I've ever worked with. She could see a decade ahead and could see where you needed to be for the university. She left a huge mark on Frostburg State University.’

Mary Beth Pirolozzi was the president of the FSU alumni association during Gira's tenure. ‘I am very sad,’ said Pirolozzi. ‘So many of us knew her and loved her. After she retired, we maintained a wonderful friendship. She taught me so much. She was a remarkable person and had so much depth. She gave so freely and sincerely of herself. I remember her as a wonderful collaborator and such a good listener. She was a valued mentor.’

Gira pushed to have the new $71 million technology and communication center built at the center of the campus. It was named The Gira Center in her honor in 2015. ‘Naming it for Catherine was well deserved,’ said Mandicott. ‘She was an excellent communicator and collaborator ... how appropriate.’ ‘She forged the move to get that facility built,’ said Peterson. ‘It takes a lot to get a new building constructed and she put a lot of time into that.’

Gira began her career as a high school teacher. Her particular academic specialty was the study of the works of William Shakespeare. ‘Her ability to communicate was unequaled,’ said Peterson. ‘Her delivery was extraordinary. I kept many of the things she wrote because I was mesmerized by how she could put words together to inspire people. She was the type of person people rallied around. It was a special time to work under her leadership.’

Gira was FSU's 13th president, and the second woman to hold the office. She was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame in 1997. An FSU press release on Gira's passing said her 15-year tenure was, ‘a period of growth in infrastructure, reputation and diversity, despite weathering national economic downturns.’ “


Text from Maryland Women's Hall of Fame , Photograph - Albert Feldstein


Collection Location:
Allegany County

Allegany County (Md.)--Biography; Allegany County (Md.)--Women.

Allegany County, (Md.)

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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