Mercyhurst University, formerly Mercyhurst College, is a Catholic liberal arts college in Erie, Pennsylvania in the United States.
On September 20, 1926, Mercyhurst College opened its doors just a few blocks away from the city's southern boundary. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy of the Erie Diocese, who were led by Mother M. Borgia Egan, who became the first president of Mercyhurst College. The college received its charter on October 5, 1928, after Mother Egan convinced the state that the Sisters of Mercy were a living endowment for the college and worth just as much as a monetary endowment.
From the beginning, Mother Egan was determined to make Mercyhurst the "beauty spot in the diocese of Erie." Wanting the institution to be a masterpiece of harmony, she directed that the exterior of the college be given as much attention as its interior by hiring prominent architect F. Ferdinand Durang of Philadelphia to create Old Main. It became a masterpiece of English Gothic design and stateliness that has the suggestion of a medieval castle in its lines. With the addition of the college gates in 1950, the Mercyhurst campus became a city landmark.
On February 3, 1969, the board of trustees voted to make Mercyhurst a coed college. From its foundation in 1926 until 1972, members of the Sisters of Mercy had been presidents of the college. After 1972, lay presidents led the college. On March 27, 1991, Mercyhurst purchased the 100-year old Redemptorist Seminary in North East and turned into a branch campus offering associate degrees and one-year certificates.
In the past two decades, Mercyhurst has become one of the top comprehensive colleges in the North and the second largest Mercy college in America. Among its five campuses, enrollment has grown to well over 4,000 students while full-time faculty employment numbers includes 168 members. The endowment has increased to more than $20 million and its budget is more than $85 million.
A $40 million program of building and campus renovation has changed the look of Mercyhurst's 50 structures during the past 20 years. Then, in fall 2002, the $7.5 million Audrey Hirt Academic Center opened on the southeast edge of campus, a building funded largely through the college’s $22.8 million capital campaign.
In August 2005, the $5 million Michele and Tom Ridge Health and Safety Building was dedicated at Mercyhurst North East. A $1.3 million residential apartment complex also opened in time for the North East campus' academic year.
Also in 2005, the board of trustees authorized the purchase of 400 acres (1.6 km2) in Girard as the first step towards developing Mercyhurst West, a two-year college serving western Erie County, northwestern Crawford County and northeastern Ohio.
The board of trustees elected Dr. Thomas J. Gamble as the 11th president of Mercyhurst College. Dr. Gamble, who previously served as vice president of academic affairs at the college, assumed the presidency March 1, 2006.
The construction of a $14 million freshman residence hall began in fall 2008 and opened in the fall of 2009. Warde Hall, a 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2). building, houses 318 students and contains a convenience store, media room, TV lounges, computer lab, campus printing station and a fitness center.
A much-anticipated development is the Center for Academic Engagement, a four-story, 31,000-square-foot (2,900 m2) building that will be set into the rolling hill north of Hammermill Library and feature a skywalk over East Main Drive to connect the two facilities. The building, which will boast many green technologies, will house classrooms and lab space for two of Mercyhurst’s signature programs—Intelligence Studies and Hospitality Management—as well as the Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society and the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP).
Mercyhurst University continues to be guided by the legacy of its founders, the Sisters of Mercy, in educating students in a culture where faith and reason flourish together; where the beauty and power of the liberal arts combine with an appreciation for the dignity of work; and a commitment to serving others.
On January 25, 2012, Mercyhurst College officially became Mercyhurst University.
William Garvey Scandal
On Sunday, October 10, 2004 the Erie Times-News published a story stating that former Mercyhurst President Dr. William Garvey molested grade school boys while serving as a basketball coach at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Erie. The article further stated that "two current Erie residents told the Erie Times-News that Garvey paid them to have sex with him in the early to mid-1980s, when both men were minors." On December 17 the paper reported that Garvey "abruptly announced his retirement Thursday, months before the completion of a college-ordered investigation Garvey had predicted would exonerate him."
Several months after Garvey retired, the Erie Times-News reported that retired Erie County Judge Michael Palmisano had determined that the allegations against Garvey "appear[ed] to have merit".
The University has a park, Garvey Park, named in honor of the former President.
Enrollment at Mercyhurst University's Erie campus is nearly 4,500 students, and Dr. Thomas Gamble remains the current president. The university currently is on a trimester calendar and is moving to a 4-1-4 calendar for the 2013-2014 school year.
The University still maintains its campus 18 miles (29 km) in North East, Pennsylvania at the site of the former St. Mary's Seminary.
The University has also operated Mercyhurst Corry, a school offering an associate degree in business administration, for over 25 years. Meanwhile, a new campus location at the Booker T. Washington Center makes it easier for disadvantaged members of the Erie community to attain a college degree.
The University's fifth campus, Mercyhurst West, is located in Girard, Pennsylvania, at the site of the former Faith Lutheran Church. Classes began at this location in fall 2006.
With a commitment to providing a hands-on education, Mercyhurst has partnerships with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine for student medical care and sports medicine consultation and with Lake View Country Club for expanded internship and employment opportunities for culinary and hospitality students. Mercyhurst is also in the process of expanding its graduate degree offerings. The school’s Master of Science degrees include Accounting, Administration of Justice, Applied Intelligence, Forensic and Biological Anthropology, Organizational Leadership, Secondary Education and Special Education. New programs for the fall include Exercise Science and an Entrepreneurial Track within the Organizational Leadership program.
Notable Mercyhurst faculty include Archaeologist James Adovasio; Epidemiologist David Dausey; two American Board of Forensic Anthropology certified Forensic Anthropologists: Dennis Dirkmaat, and Steven Symes; and Physical Anthropologist Stephen Ousley, co-creator of FORDISC.
The Schools of Mercyhurst University
The school is best known for its programs in archaeology and forensic anthropology, intelligence (MCIIS & CIRAT), forensic science, dance, music, and art therapy.
Mercyhurst University competes in two NCAA Division I and 22 NCAA Division II sports as the Mercyhurst Lakers. The Lakers are one of the newest members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). Around 15 percent of the student body consists of student-athletes.
NCAA Division I Sports
NCAA Division II Sports
Mercyhurst University Non-Varsity Sports
American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) - Division I
Awards and distinctions
Mercyhurst has received a number of distinctions, with one of the most important being U.S. News & World Report giving Mercyhurst a “top tier” placement in Regional Universities, North Region, in the 2011 edition of America’s Best Universities. Mercyhurst was also named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for a third year in a row. The distinction is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement. The school’s strong commitment to sustainability garnered leadership-level recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership, which recognizes organizations making a significant commitment to renewable energy initiatives.