hile the addition of master’s degree programs was important to Mount Mercy’s university designation in 2010, the opening of the CRST International Graduate Center has become instrumental to the programs’ remarkable success.
Mount Mercy’s nearly 50-year history of serving working adults in the Greater Cedar Rapids area formalized in 1997 as an innovative partnership with Kirkwood Community College. Accelerated, fast-paced bachelor’s degree programs served the needs of many seeking to obtain this increasingly necessary credential while juggling careers and families. Launching graduate programs in academic areas of recognized expertise was a natural progression for Mount Mercy. However, the popularity of its initial offerings quickly led to increased enrollment and the need for more space. Nestled in an established, quiet, residential neighborhood less than two miles from the main campus, Mount Mercy’s CRST International Graduate Center (formerly a U.S. Army/Naval Reserve training center) was made possible thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and a $2.1 million gift from Dyan and John Smith on behalf of CRST International. Dyan and John Smith have a long history of supporting Mount Mercy and the community—both financially and with their time and talents. John, chairman of the board at CRST, previously served on the Mount Mercy Board of Trustees, and Dyan, a current trustee, has served since 1995. The Smiths’ generous donation in support of the University’s graduate center effort marked one of the largest gifts in Mount Mercy’s 89-year history. Debuting in 2013, the renovated 34,500-square-foot CRST International Graduate Center is now home to six graduate programs—business, education, nursing, criminal justice, strategic leadership, and marriage and family therapy—all with in-demand areas of emphasis.
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