Mercyhurst College is one step closer to becoming Mercyhurst University following a vote by the board of trustees to submit the college’s application for university status to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), effective immediately.
The board took action during its regular fall meeting on Oct. 28, nearly a year after Mercyhurst President Dr. Thomas J. Gamble proposed the college explore transitioning to university status. Gamble noted that "university" better describes the current organizational model of Mercyhurst, not to mention its future as an institution of increasingly diverse programs, particularly its graduate, pre-professional and online and offsite offerings.
In addition, Mercyhurst has received public recognition for the quality of many of its programs and its faculty, suggesting a greater vision of what the college has become and what more the future might have in store for it.
“Becoming Mercyhurst University is not about transforming what Mercyhurst is,” said Gamble. “Rather, it addresses the current reality of Mercyhurst today as an eclectic, vibrant, Catholic university with a top-notch, highly residential, baccalaureate college at its heart.”
Mercyhurst’s student body of more than 4,000 evidences the diverse nature of a college with populations of traditional undergraduate, adult undergraduate and graduate students as well as one- and two-year program students at the college’s campuses in North East, West, Corry and the Booker T. Washington Center.
In exploring university status during the past year, Mercyhurst sought input from all its constituencies, including faculty, staff, administration, the Sisters of Mercy, students and alumni, with the vast majority expressing support and, indeed, enthusiasm for the change. In addition, college committees conducted research and prepared all the necessary documentation for PDE review.
Now, if all goes according to schedule, Mercyhurst could obtain state approval as early as the fall of 2011 and roll out marketing and other organizational changes to create the new “Mercyhurst University” shortly thereafter.
According to the model, Mercyhurst University would consist of a college of baccalaureate studies (the Erie campus will retain the name Mercyhurst College), a college of graduate studies and a college of associate degree programs.
Regardless of any change, board chair and Mercyhurst alumna Marlene Mosco maintained that “the Mercyhurst name will continue to represent quality, innovation, and the hands-on education it has provided to so many and remain true to its historical legacy as an institution that stresses the liberal arts, its Catholic and Mercy identity and personal approach to learning.”