2004-05 promises to be ground-breaking year at Mercyhurst

Change is the key word as Mercyhurst College kicks off the 2004-2005 academic year.

Some upgrades will be obvious: a new heating and air conditioning system and new custom windows in Old Main, a new roof on Zurn Hall, and a new entrance onto the campus from Parade Boulevard.

Other changes will be subtler, including the addition of several new academic offerings both at the undergraduate and graduate levels and work begun on a state-of-the-art lab in Zurn Hall.

Starting in fall 2004, Mercyhurst College will offer five graduate programs: master of science degrees in applied intelligence and biological and forensic anthropology will be added to a catalog that already includes special education, administration of justice and organizational leadership programs.

Undergraduate offerings will be expanded to 50 majors with the addition of a bachelor of arts in international business, a bachelor of science in archaeology/anthropology with a concentration in bioarchaeology, a bachelor of arts in criminal justice with a concentration in pre-law and a bachelor of arts in intelligence studies.

All of this combines to attract an amazing class of more than 715 freshmen who hail from 29 states and 11 countries and who will study in nearly every arena of expertise on the Mercyhurst College campus.

A record number of young adults arrive on the campus on Thursday, Sept. 2, and jump immediately into FYI: The Freshmen Year Initiative, a program geared at immersing the students in their new home before classes begin on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

When all students have moved in and classes kick off Tuesday, Sept. 7, Mercyhurst will welcome a total enrollment, on its Erie and North East campuses, of nearly 4,000 students. That is the largest enrollment the college has seen in its 78 years.

North East alone will boast enrollment of more than 900, a record for that campus.

Several changes to the college’s physical plant will still be under way when classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 7, while others have been completed, with the total price tag expected to approach $9 million. Expenditures include $5.5 million for the new health and safety building at Mercyhurst North East and another $500,000 in MNE projects, plus more than $2.7 million in improvements to the Erie campus. 

In Old Main, contractors are installing a HVAC system providing, for the first time, air conditioning to the 78-year-old landmark. Crews also replaced hundreds of windows, finishing a job begun last summer; and renovated portions of the slate roof.

Zurn Hall is undergoing multiple improvements, including construction of a state-of-the-art lab, roof replacement, stairwell refurbishment, interior painting, and data/telephone rewiring for “smart classrooms.”

The Egan Hall cafeteria received a facelift including ceramic tile flooring, new furniture, an open grill and deep-fry station, and an exhibition station, where items such as stir-fry entrees will be prepared. 

Mercyhurst now sports new signage, including building signs, street markers and directional indicators. 

Work has also begun on an expanded Parade Boulevard entrance, where four homes Mercyhurst owns on Parade are being demolished for the entrance and a parking lot.

Sports teams will enjoy two new locker rooms and a training room at the west end of the ice center, and the college has replaced the messy natural grass fields used by soccer with 120,000 square feet of synthetic grass, and constructed a baseball field in the same area, which will bring baseball back to the Erie campus (had been played at Hirtzel Field at North East campus).

In addition to the routine painting, carpeting, and repairs undertaken each summer at residence halls and apartments, fire alarms were upgraded, bricks repointed, and new vents installed in all bathrooms. Major renovations were completed at Mercyhurst’s newest student housing, the Wayne Street apartments, three buildings comprising 12 apartments each. The properties, which the college is leasing from Baldwin Brothers, will accommodate 108 students.

Among the more significant improvements completed at Mercyhurst North East: installation of a new fire safety and intrusion system; new windows in Neumann Hall, the breezeway and front office; a fresh look in the student union with new furniture, carpeting and paint; new bleachers in the gymnasium; and a parking lot by the soccer field.

Mercyhurst is also the proud owner of a new IBM P630 server for its Datatel system, which houses the college’s administrative applications, including admissions, registration, student financial services, alumni, advancement, and general ledger. 

Upgrades to the all-campus smart card system will allow Mercyhurst students to utilize their photo IDs as debit cards at more sites this fall, including the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, and readers at Hammermill Library and Police and Safety will allow students to pay fines in a single swipe.

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