Dear friends of Mercyhurst, You probably know that Mercyhurst College, an institution that has been a vital part of the Erie community since 1926, is undergoing a monumental change—namely, transitioning from a college to a university since the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) accepted our application for university status this February. As I reflect on how this process started, I’m reminded of the Mercyhurst motto of “Carpe Diem.” These two simple words inspire us to seize opportunities each and every day, whether it’s adding a new, state-of-the-art facility to campus, welcoming world-renowned experts to our faculty or adding exciting new programs to our academic offerings. In the past few years, this same spirit guided us to pursue the incredible opportunity to become a university. It was a big decision—but one that students, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, trustees and community members wanted to work toward being that Mercyhurst already functions much like a university by offering associate degree programs at three branch campuses, seven graduate degree programs, online classes and off-site graduate certificate programs. These reasons, along with the fact that a “college” typically refers to a high school among our sizable international student population and that this designation will let us grow in many ways, led us to collectively submit an application to the PDE. You may be wondering what this means for Mercyhurst and its place within our community and our world. Before I answer that, I want to assure you that the core identity of our school will not change. We remain dedicated to preserving our strong liberal
arts foundation, providing each student with a high level of personalized attention and promoting the Mercy values on which we were founded. We will also remain engaged in our community and continue to offer a variety of athletic, educational and cultural events, often at no charge, to the public. What this transition will usher in is an opportunity to expand our degree offerings, increase our reputation both here and abroad, and be known for what we really are: an institution that has grown far beyond a simple four-year undergraduate college. Knowing this is big news to digest, we created this booklet to help you get a better idea of how this transition will play out. I hope it answers all of your questions and sincerely hope we’ll see you on campus during our celebration this fall. Feel free to visit mercyhurst.edu/university to learn more—and, as always, Carpe Diem. Best wishes,
Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D. President
Why We’re Making the Move From our start as a small, all-women’s, four-year college 86 years ago, Mercyhurst has grown from one campus offering a handful of programs into five campuses that collectively offer seven graduate programs, 52 undergraduate programs, 24 associate degree programs, seven one-year certificates, and online and off-site classes. With so many different kinds of academic offerings, we already function much more as a university than as a traditional undergraduate college. (In fact, both the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education and U.S.News & World Report changed our classification from “baccalaureate college” to “master’s university.”) So one big reason for becoming a university is to assume a name that more accurately reflects who we really are. Other important factors that informed this decision include the fact that the very word “university” connotes a higher level of prestige than “college.” This is especially true among our sizable international student population that ranks Mercyhurst as the 15th most internationally diverse university in the region. In the majority of these students’ countries, a “college” typically refers to a “high school.” As Mercyhurst University, we’ll be able to attract a more qualified candidate pool both here and abroad. Finally, while Mercyhurst University won’t substantially grow in size as an institution, it will grow in scope by offering even more courses of study that prepare students for some of today’s most in-demand careers. This is especially true with respect to our associate, graduate, adult, online and offsite options. By expanding these offerings—which represent our most promising growth opportunities—Mercyhurst will position itself as a strong and viable institution for many years to come.
The Difference Between a College and a University While there’s no black-and-white difference between a college and a university in the United States, there is a general consensus that a college exclusively offers four-year baccalaureate degrees. A university, meanwhile, typically does many things—especially when it comes to awarding graduate degrees. Outside the United States, a “college” usually refers to a high school while a “university” refers to an institution of higher education. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires an institution submitting an application for university status to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to establish at least three separate “colleges” under its proposed university umbrella and to offer a mandatory minimum number of advanced degrees. We—and, ultimately, PDE—decided that Mercyhurst met these criteria.
What Changes… There’s no doubt that the transition to university will usher in many exciting changes for Mercyhurst. It will lead to our assuming a more prestigious name that clarifies and reflects the true nature of our institution and let us more easily grow our academic programs. It will also lead to the development of a new logo that will be used across our many publications, our website and all other forms of communication. Here is an explanation of how the logo depicts Mercyhurst University as an institution solid in its foundation, faith and strength. The Shield:
The Mercyhurst Shield represents strength and achievement.
The Mercy Cross:
Symbol of the founding Sisters of Mercy tells of faith and tradition.
The Motto and Date:
“Carpe Diem” (Seize the Day) and the founding date tell of opportunity and longevity.
Five blue bars represent the five schools of the College of Baccalaureate Studies.
The move to university will also lead to the creation of three distinct colleges within Mercyhurst University: the College of Baccalaureate Studies, which is the traditional, four-year, largely undergraduate college; the College of Associate Degree Studies, which mainly represents the programs offered at our North East campus; and the College of Graduate Studies, which includes our on-site and off-site graduate school programs. Taken together, each of these colleges will be a vital component of our emerging university, and we’ll continue to expand the number of high-quality, relevant programs within each one.
â€Śand What Stays the Same Many things about Mercyhurst will remain the same. For starters, while we will add to the number of programs within our traditional undergraduate college, its student population will remain relatively stable in comparison to anticipated enrollment increases within our associate and graduate degree programs. We know that a cornerstone of the Mercyhurst undergraduate experience is the opportunity to learn within a small campus setting that fosters a strong sense of belonging, and we are completely committed to preserving it. Another constant is our commitment to our core values and the defining characteristics of the Mercyhurst experience. That means weâ€™ll continue to offer small classes that typically number 25 students or less and that these classes will always be taught by faculty who promote hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. It also means there will still be a high level of personalized attention both inside and outside the classroom and an emphasis on the Mercy values on which we were founded. Mercyhurst University will be different from Mercyhurst Collegeâ€”and yet, through its core values and institutional culture, it will remain much the same place that has benefitted tens of thousands of students through the years.
The Center for Academic Engagement The incredible growth Mercyhurst has undergone has resulted in both new buildings and new campuses. From the Audrey Hirt Academic Center to the many new buildings and residence halls at Mercyhurst North East to the addition of our campuses in Corry, Girard and the Booker T. Washington Center, we’ve remained committed to doing everything possible to accommodate new programs and new students. The most anticipated addition—as well as the first addition to Mercyhurst University—will be the Center for Academic Engagement on the Erie campus. This brand-new, four-story home for our Intelligence Studies and Hospitality Management programs, the Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society and the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics boasts eco-friendly touches like solar panels, energy-efficient lights, a high-performance heat recovery system that relies on a geothermal well field and environmentally responsible interior materials. Just as impressive as the Center’s green features and gleaming glass exterior are the amenities within its 31,000-square-foot interior. Both Intelligence Studies and Hospitality Management majors will be able to take advantage of specially designed classroom spaces and labs equipped with the latest tools and technology. The building also features a student gathering area with a coffee kiosk, a banquet area with seating for 160 guests and stateof-the art kitchens. And, for the final touch, we included in the design plans a skywalk spanning East Main Drive that connects the Center with the Hammermill Library.
Mercyhurst by the Years 1926: The Sisters of Mercy found Mercyhurst College as an all-womenâ€™s, fully accredited, four-year, Catholic comprehensive institution. 1928: Mercyhurst receives its charter. 1950: With the addition of its college gates, Mercyhurst becomes a city landmark. 1969: The Mercyhurst Board of Trustees votes to make Mercyhurst a co-ed college. 1972: After 46 years of Sisters of Mercy leadership, the first layperson is named president of Mercyhurst College. 1991: Mercyhurst purchases the 100-year-old Redemptorist Seminary in North East, Pa., and transforms it into a branch campus offering associate degrees and one-year certificates. 2002: After a successful $22.8 million capital campaign, the $7.5 million Audrey Hirt Academic Center opens on the southeast edge of Mercyhurst Erie.
2005: The $5 million Michele and Tom Ridge Health and Safety Building is dedicated at Mercyhurst North East. 2006: Mercyhurst West opens in Girard, Pa., and Dr. Thomas Gamble becomes the 11th president of the college. Today: Mercyhurst cracks the U.S.News & World Report list of Top 50 Regional Universities while enrollment increases to more than 3,200 students at the Erie campus.; more than 1,200 students at the North East campus; and dozens of other students from all ages and walks of life at campuses in Corry and Girard, Pa., and the Booker T. Washington Center in downtown Erie.
Attention, alumni: This February only, you can order Mercyhurst University diplomas free of charge at alumni.mercyhurst.edu/diploma or by calling (814) 824-2241.
A Message from the Board Chair Dear Friends of Mercyhurst: Back in the late 1960s, the Mercyhurst I attended was a small, all-women’s college located on one campus. We chose from 14 courses of study, and the focus was entirely on undergraduate education. Today, I’m proud to say my alma mater offers nearly 100 associate, baccalaureate and graduate degree programs at five separate campuses in our community and in three other locations around the world. From the opportunities it offers disadvantaged populations to its world-renowned graduate programs, Mercyhurst has grown in both depth and breadth to allow thousands of students to reach their potential and spread the Mercy values on which the school was founded. As a proud alumna and the parent of a recent Mercyhurst graduate, I’ve been thrilled to watch the school evolve through the years; as a trustee, I’m honored to play a part in shaping and supporting such a dynamic and well-respected institution. When the opportunity to pursue university status presented itself two years ago, the board of trustees faced a challenge: How do we position Mercyhurst for further growth while ensuring that the essential Mercyhurst experience, which benefitted me and so many others, remained intact? I can assure you that we, along with a diverse array of constituents, carefully considered this decision and what it meant for a place we all care about so much.
I’m proud to say the collective decision—and recent approval— to transition to a university will mark the beginning of an unprecedented era of growth for Mercyhurst. As a university, Mercyhurst will increase its already well-regarded reputation, continue to develop and grow the programs within the three schools that will comprise the university and strategically position itself as an institution for many years to come. I’m also proud to let you know that the very things that define the Mercyhurst experience—the mission-driven education, the focus on the liberal arts and the high level of personalized attention available to each student—will remain firmly intact. As we launch this pivotal chapter in the history of Mercyhurst, I look forward to sharing more good news with you in 2012 and beyond. Sincerely,
Marlene Mosco ‘68 Chair, Board of Trustees
Why We Support Mercyhurst University “The transition to university status is a natural progression for Mercyhurst. At a time when many small colleges are struggling to survive, Mercyhurst has grown larger, improved its faculty and facilities, and strengthened its curriculum. Becoming a university is just another indication of the quality of the faculty, facilities and education offered to current and future students. I am proud to be associated with this fine institution of higher learning.” Pierre W. Priestley
Vice President & Division Manager Investment Property Exchange Services, Inc. Class of 1981
“The university transition has given me many great things to look forward to. It adds a sense of greater pride for the institution and creates a deeper sense of tradition; I am sure it will change some things, but I know it will still have the same Mercyhurst qualities that everyone knows and loves. I am excited to be a student during the transition—and I look forward to becoming a proud alumna of Mercyhurst University.”
“Becoming a university shows the consistent growth that occurs here at Mercyhurst. In the best way possible, the school that I arrived at is not the same one from which I will graduate. I feel that university status will help Mercyhurst reach new heights and consistently excel to the next level without losing the smallschool charm that captivates so many students.” Meghan Nye Class of 2012
Mercyhurst Student Government President Class of 2012
“I think the transition to university status is completely positive for the Mercyhurst community. It’s changing our status and name to something that we already are, giving more clout to degrees and making students more competitive as we enter the workforce. This change will only benefit the school and all of the students here in the long run.” Brian Lombardo Class of 2013
“I am confident that the transition to Mercyhurst University will preserve Mercyhurst’s most treasured qualities— namely, the student-faculty bond—while strengthening its reputation abroad and in academia through the continued development of innovative graduate programs and advanced research opportunities for undergraduate students.” Kristen Hudak
Senior Publicist, ESPN Class of 2005
“The transition from Mercyhurst College to Mercyhurst University represents a synthesis of the institution’s two primary assets. By preserving the small-college environment in which faculty and students can form intimate intellectual relationships while at the same time providing opportunities for research and study that are more common to universities, Mercyhurst has risen to a new level of excellence by enriching its students with a greater range of academic programs and a higher quality education.” Dr. Michael P. Federici Professor of Political Science
“Transitioning from Mercyhurst College to Mercyhurst University gives us all the advantages of a small college with all of the opportunities of a university. A university traditionally offers a range of programming not usually available at a college; along with the numerous offerings we have, the transition will provide us with a greater opportunity to expand. This change is the reality of our achievements.” Kimberly J. Zacherl, MBA
Human Resource Management Program Director and Assistant Professor Class of 1985
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