Mercyhurst University

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New office centers on 'learning and serving beyond The Gates'

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Shepherding efforts related to “learning and serving beyond The Gates” is a sweeping job description, but Mercyhurst University’s former Service Learning director Colin Hurley says he’s up to the task.

Hurley was recently appointed director of the new Office of Community Engagement within the university’s Department of Mission Integration. He is charged with strengthening the high quality, mission-based engagement opportunities Mercyhurst currently offers while developing new strategic partnerships within Erie and surrounding communities.

“This is a bold institutional commitment,” said Hurley. “The expectation we have is for students to learn concepts and theories in the classroom and then to have opportunities throughout their student years for community engagement, much like the un-cloistered Sisters of Mercy, informally coined ‘the walking nuns,’ who worked and served within their communities.” 

Both the Service Learning and Internship programs now fall under the direction of Community Engagement, which will assist the university to more fully track and showcase the community-engaged learning experiences offered by academic and administrative departments on campus.

“The compelling story we hope to share more fully with current and future stakeholders is that the Mercy Mission isn’t just a piece of history, but it is a vibrant narrative that is alive,” said Hurley. “Mercyhurst University is enriched by our students’ diverse experiences.”

The Community Engagement office serves as a resource for students as well as faculty and staff who want to initiate experiential learning and outreach opportunities. Among those faculty resources are:

  • Assisting with the logistics and development of community-engaged courses, fieldtrips and tours
  • Providing logistics for community panel discussions
  • Offering class presentations to critically reflect on service learning opportunities or community-engaged learning experiences
  • Aligning classroom learning objectives with identified community needs and partners
  • Developing study-away, credit-bearing trips and risk management protocols
  • Pursuing the publishing of relevant research in community-engaged, experiential learning, or service-learning

For more information about the Office of Community Engagement, contact Colin Hurley at 824-2471, via e-mail: or visit him in his new office located in Egan 206.