Mercyhurst seniors savor legacy; raise funds for campus greenhouse

Carpe Diem
Senior Week kicks off today at Mercyhurst University with five days of activities planned to raise funds for the senior class gift: a campus greenhouse.

The $15,000 project will serve multidisciplinary functions so all ‘Hurst students can enjoy it, says Rhona Boyle, a senior biology major and chair of the senior class gift committee.

The structure will house herb and vegetable gardens for culinary students and Parkhurst Dining Services to use, as well as a reflection area with flowers and benches.

“People have been really excited about the idea,” Boyle said. “It’s a physical structure that you can come back to as an alum and say, ‘Hey – I helped build that.”

The greenhouse idea stems from numerous online surveys distributed to the senior class, and the student-run committee is collaborating with the university’s sustainability and biology departments to put the idea into action. Students have already raised $7,500 for the greenhouse, and Boyle is confident that the Senior Week activities will help them reach their goal.

The committee is partnering with the university’s advancement office to maximize their fundraising efforts and reach their goal of 55 percent class participation.

This isn’t the first time that Mercyhurst seniors have opted for a “green” senior gift – the Class of 2010 raised funds for a green roof atop the Zurn Hall Ceramics Lab, and the Class of 2011 helped fund an outdoor seating area/classroom.

The committee is still ironing out the details of the greenhouse project, including which location on campus has the best combination of sunlight and soil drainage necessary to house the structure. There’s a lot to consider about its contents, too, since a greenhouse can reach temperatures warm enough to grow anything from carrots and tomatoes to mangoes and bananas. Construction is slated to begin in late spring or early summer.

As for Boyle? She welcomes the challenge.

“This has been the biggest leadership project of my undergraduate years,” she said. “It’s been a fun job that’s really added to my education outside of the classroom.”

Senior Week includes a glow bowling night on Tuesday, the Erie’s Best Wings Cook-off on Wednesday, a senior date auction on Thursday and the 100 Days ‘Til Graduation Party at The Cornerstone on Friday. Those who make a $10 gift receive a Senior Week T-shirt. All proceeds will benefit the class gift. On Friday, seniors are welcome to attend a free dinner in the Egan Hall cafeteria.

For more information, or to donate to the greenhouse online, visit
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