Monday, August 15, 2016
Mercyhurst University today announced that it has reached an all-time high freshman enrollment of 734 students, besting the record of 717 freshmen set in 2004.
Another record-breaking announcement comes out of the Mercyhurst Advancement Office today, which reported that contributions during fiscal year 2015-2016 topped $6.57 million, the largest total ever raised in a single year.
Both the gains in enrollment and in fundraising are results of goals established by Mercyhurst’s new president, Michael T. Victor, when he assumed the role of president on Aug. 1, 2015.
“At a time when many higher education institutions are grappling with declining enrollments, we are thrilled to have an enrollment that exceeds expectations,” Victor said. “We are also pleased to have accomplished this without lowering our standards in any way.”
And, in terms of fundraising, he said, “These generous gifts are an expression of confidence in Mercyhurst University and the strategic path we have charted for our future. In addition, it is clear that our many friends and donors recognize the capacity for Mercyhurst to contribute to the welfare of our city, state and nation.”
Victor credited Joe Howard, vice president for enrollment, and Caleb Pifer, vice president for advancement, for their leadership in achieving these stunning gains. Both Howard and Pifer are in their first year as vice presidents at Mercyhurst.
In addition to welcoming 734 freshmen, the university anticipates nearly 70 transfers, bringing the total new undergraduate student population for academic year 2016-2017 to just over 800.
Not only are the numbers significant, especially after several years of declining enrollment, but Mercyhurst projects a talented class, with one in eight incoming students graduating from high school with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Gains are also projected at Mercyhurst North East, where enrollment is up 20 percent over last year at this time. The North East campus continues to enroll students right up until the first day of class.
And in Erie County, which is experiencing a marked decrease in the number of high school graduates, Mercyhurst expects to enroll over 100 local graduates on its Erie campus, the largest cohort in more than decade.
Victor said the exemplary work of Howard and his team, and the implementation of several key strategies, including an investment in admissions and marketing, were instrumental in this year’s yield.
“We increased our personnel in admissions,” Victor said. “We put significant resources into our in-house marketing team, which delivered not only in quantity, but quality. We found new ways of telling the Mercyhurst story to more people and it showed; our campus visits were up 40 percent this year over last. We also implemented a number of data-driven strategies that will remain proprietary.”
Howard, meanwhile, said, “The excitement President Victor generated since his arrival greatly contributed to enthusiasm among our prospective students. Our admissions and marketing teams built on that excitement. I couldn’t be prouder of their work. Faculty, too, went above-and-beyond during this recruitment cycle, forging personal and meaningful relationships with students exploring their programs.”
The work of the advancement team resulted in gains across the board – endowment contributions, major gift activity and the annual fund.
“Mercyhurst is truly blessed to have so many generous supporters remember us when making their philanthropic gifts; these will pave the way for incredible improvements to our campus and opportunities for our students,” Victor said.
He noted that the gifts support student scholarships, athletic programs, student-faculty research and capital projects, the largest being a $3 million renovation of the Erie campus’ dining hall, which will open at the start of this academic year and be known as Grotto Commons.
Following are highlights from the past year’s campaign:
Mercyhurst secured $1.79 million in new pledges, a 279 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
The Annual Fund finished 26 percent above its 10-year average – the second highest total ever.
2015-2016 was the second consecutive year with more than $1 million in contributions to the endowment.
The second annual Giving Day attracted the largest number of donors to Mercyhurst in a single day: 415.
Pifer announced that the advancement office is launching a new crowdfunding platform with four projects slated to be unveiled this fall. He credited his team for their spirit of innovation and their dedication.
In announcing both milestones in enrollment and fundraising, Victor also credited the Mercyhurst community for their hard work, support and spirit of solidarity.
“Mercyhurst is a family; it’s also a feeling, and that intangible, while hard to put into words, is what unites us all,” Victor said.