February 18, 2016
Picturing the whirlwind of energy that is Pat Croce – the Philly-area's favorite fitness guru, former Sixers owner, entrepreneur, biker and pirate aficionado – seated in a meditative pose, still and quiet for more than a moment seems impossible, yet he does it, and says it makes him a better leader.
Which is why he was at West Chester University on Feb. 18 telling the WCU community how he has incorporated mindfulness into his life and supporting the University's Center for Contemplative Studies (CCS) with a $250,000 gift.
Croce, a 1974 WCU alumnus, has been a friend to the University for a long time. He and his wife, Diane, made the gift following Pat's discovery of how contemplative studies like mindfulness, yoga and meditation helped him focus and achieve stillness and a peaceful state. The centering effect he found was so powerful, "I wondered what my 20-year-old self might have done with this knowledge, but if my practice has taught me anything, it is to live in "the now," so now I intend to try to share with today's WCU students what it took me years to learn."
The Center for Contemplative Studies has offered programs for the campus and the community to help people understand, create and apply a contemplative approach to life and learning since 2011.
To illustrate the possibilities of a contemplative practice, the co-directors of WCU's Center for Contemplative Studies, Donald McCown (assistant professor of health) and Christine Moriconi (assistant professor of nursing), conducted a mindfulness exercise at the event.
"Students who complete courses centered on contemplative and meditative practices see positive changes in emotional regulation and self-compassion, according to recent studies conducted at the Center," said McCown, who has also written a number of books on the subject.
CCS programs are free, including yoga, meditation and a Saturday series open to the public. "The Center has been growing on campus … and this is a pivotal time to broaden our reach," said Moriconi, who is also a licensed clinical psychologist. She noted that the Croces' gift will help raise awareness of the Center both on and off campus, fund faculty release time and graduate assistants, and provide all CCS staff with mental health first aid training.
"Pat's sincere desire to share these insights with the younger generation is genuine and his enthusiasm is infectious," noted Linda Adams, Dean of the College of Health Sciences, where the Center is housed. "We want to expose our students to as much as we can about the health field while they are here at WCU so we are grateful to Pat for helping to raise awareness of the Center for Contemplative Studies."
Croce was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service at WCU's 1999 spring commencement, where he was also speaker.
Visit the Center for Contemplative Studies.