Mercyhurst University unveils new Center for Academic Engagement

The northern view from Mercyhurst University’s new high-tech Center for Academic Engagement (CAE) overlooks a vista encompassing the city and Lake Erie, combining a landscape and academic environment that is engaging in every way.

It engages you to stop, to look, to contemplate, to interact, to learn … to marvel.

True to its billing as an “engagement center,” the $10.5 million flagship educational facility will deliver a cutting-edge learning environment for students for decades to come, said Mercyhurst President Dr. Tom Gamble. Gamble will preside over the building’s public unveiling and ribbon cutting on Wednesday, Aug. 15, along with Board of Trustees Chair Marlene Mosco. The proceedings, which begin at 4:30 p.m. with building tours followed by a program and reception, will include a Blessing by Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman. State Sen. Jane Earll is also expected to attend.

“Mercyhurst University is recognized nationally for offering a high-quality, Catholic, liberal arts education, but what really differentiates us from our peers is that we combine that focus with hands-on, practical application, blending knowledge and action through real-world situations,” Gamble said. “This engagement with the world was ingrained in our culture by our founders, the Sisters of Mercy, and we are grateful to our university community, friends and donors for helping us to further one of the great hallmarks of a Mercyhurst education.”

The vision for the CAE as a hands-on, collaborative, high-tech learning environment housing two of Mercyhurst’s signature programs – Intelligence Studies and Hospitality Management – has been years in the making. The building also becomes home to a pair of initiatives that connect Mercyhurst with the wider community – the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP) and the Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society.

In this new academic space, students will engage their culinary abilities in a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen and hone their front-of-house skills in a 160-seat banquet hall and the 60-seat Marriott Café, which replaces the university’s Grotto Dining Room. They will conduct open-source intelligence analysis for real-world clients using sophisticated computer laboratories, and they will man a 30-station polling center to seek public opinion on local, state and national issues.

Completed on schedule for the start of the 2012-2013 academic year, the building includes 31,000 square feet on four levels. Architect Shelley Buehler of Erie’s Buehler and Associates designed the building with Erie’s Perry Construction Group Inc. serving as general contractor.

The structure includes offices, classrooms, labs and conference rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology, podcasting and video conferencing capabilities and the latest in wireless technologies. Classrooms are surrounded by floor-to-ceiling white boards, providing abundant space for brainstorming, instructing and communicating.

A skywalk spanning East Main Drive and connecting CAE with Hammermill Library will be equipped with counters and seating so that students can study in this unique space.

The last academic structure to be built on the Erie campus was 10 years ago when the Audrey Hirt Academic Center opened in Fall 2002.

Dr. David Livingston, vice president for advancement, who has shepherded the project since its inception, expressed his gratitude: “The university is very grateful to all the alumni and friends who have made the center come alive as a place where students and faculty can pursue a quality education infused with practical experience.”

Besides its many friends and alumni, Livingston said the university would like to publicly acknowledge the following for their support: Gov. Tom Corbett and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, Erie Insurance Group, PNC Bank Foundation, The Statler Foundation, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, Erie County General Authority, Erie Community Foundation, Ridge Policy Group, Aramark Corporation and the Mercyhurst University Alumni Association.

Watch one year of construction in two minutes:


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