Gannon University Welcomes New Board of Trustees Members


ERIE – Gannon University has welcomed three new members to the university’s Board of Trustees.

Sean Dugan of Erie graduated from Gannon in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in finance. Following graduation, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy. Dugan began his career at Erie Insurance in 1992 as a personal property underwriter. After serving a variety of roles, Dugan was named executive vice president of Human Resources and Corporate Services in January 2023. Dugan serves on the American Property Casual Insurance Association (APCIA) Human Resources Committee, as a commissioner on the City of Erie Housing Authority board and as a member of the Council of Fellows at Penn State Behrend.

Karen Surkala of Erie obtained her Bachelor of Science in business administration from Gannon in 1994, continuing to earn a Master of Business Administration from St. Leo University. Presently, she is the chief operating officer at AHN Saint Vincent Hospital. Prior to her current role, Surkala served in a variety of leadership roles at AHN Saint Vincent and the Cleveland Clinic, and served as president of Westfield Memorial Hospital from 2019-21. Surkala previously served on the board of trustees for EmergyCare, the United Way of Erie County and the Union City Community Foundation.

Matthew Nichilo is a senior at Gannon University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biology and pre-pharmacy. Nichilo was elected as president of the Student Government Association (SGA) in April of this year. In this role, he serves as a voice for students and oversees the Executive Board and General Assembly for both the Erie and Ruskin campuses. Nichilo previously held leadership positions on SGA, including vice president of marketing where he supervised a student committee focused on increasing engagement across campus.

“Bringing new board members into our Gannon family is an exciting opportunity to harness fresh ideas and perspectives,” said Gannon President Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D. “Their unique experiences and dedication to our mission will be invaluable as we continue to advance our academic and community goals, ensuring a brighter future for all.”

Gannon University is a Catholic, diocesan university with campuses in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Ruskin, Florida, offering online and traditional associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs to more than 4,700 students.

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