Memoir recalls a legacy of faith, public service

Apr 24, 2015 by and

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Ernest L. Boyer was an instrumental figure not only in Messiah College history but also in the progress of education in the United States.

Kathyrn Boyer signs a copy of Many Mansions: Lessons of Faith, Family and Public Service while Cynthia A. Wells, center, director of the Ernest L. Boyer Center, and Kim Phipps, president of Messiah College, look on. — Messiah College

Kathyrn Boyer signs a copy of Many Mansions: Lessons of Faith, Family and Public Service while Cynthia A. Wells, center, director of the Ernest L. Boyer Center, and Kim Phipps, president of Messiah College, look on.
— Messiah College

His wife, Kathryn T. Boyer, detailed their lives of service in her memoir, Many Mansions: Lessons of Faith, Family and Public Service, released in 2014.

“My hope is that those who read this book will learn to live a life for God on a daily basis, no matter what,” Boyer said. “We will have our extraordinary days, but the ordinary days are also a part of God’s plan.”

After her husband graduated from Messiah in 1948, he held numerous distinguished positions, including chancellor of the State University of New York, U.S. commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

After years of overseeing the country’s public education system, during which time he published several books, he returned to his alma mater to serve on the board of trustees, which he chaired for five years. He served at Messiah from 1968 until his death in 1995.

The Boyers met as students at Messiah and married in 1950. Kathryn Boyer studied nursing and became a midwife.

“Ernie’s dedication and accomplishments on behalf of the education of our world’s children was enriched by Kay’s significant influence and imprint,” said Messiah President Kim Phipps.

With the help of her son Ernie Boyer Jr., she began writing the book. Its chapters are organized by the houses they lived in. The family moved 20 times during Boyer’s career. The inspiration for the title came from their Albany, N.Y., home, which was nicknamed “The Mansion.”

“This personal story of the family life of Ernest Boyer will be very valuable to all Americans who are interested in quality education in our country,” Carter said. “His extraordinary contributions in the highest levels of government and academic service have been a blessing to millions of students and other educators.”


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