Mercyhurst University

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"Mercyhurst" redirects here. For other uses, see Mercyhurst (disambiguation).
Mercyhurst University
Mercyhurst University Seal.png
Motto Latin: Carpe diem
(Seize the day)
Established 1926
Type Private University
Affiliation Roman Catholic (Sisters of Mercy)
Endowment $31.8 million[1]
President Dr. Thomas Gamble
Provost James M. Adovasio
Academic staff
136 full-time
Students 4,400
Location Erie, Pennsylvania, USA
Campus Urban - 74 acres (300,000 m2)


Sports 3 Division I
22 Division II
Nickname Lakers
Mascot Louie the Laker
Affiliations Conference for Mercy Higher Education
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

Mercyhurst University, formerly Mercyhurst College, is a Catholic liberal arts college in Erie, Pennsylvania in the United States.


On September 20, 1926, Mercyhurst College opened its doors just a few blocks away from the city's southern boundary. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy of the Diocese of Erie, who were led by Mother M. Borgia Egan, who became the first president of Mercyhurst College. The college received its charter on October 5, 1928, after Mother Egan convinced the state that the Sisters of Mercy were a living endowment for the college and worth just as much as a monetary endowment.[citation needed]

From the beginning, Mother Egan was determined to make Mercyhurst the "beauty spot in the diocese of Erie." Wanting the institution to be a masterpiece of harmony, she directed that the exterior of the college be given as much attention as its interior by hiring prominent architect F. Ferdinand Durang of Philadelphia to create Old Main. It became a masterpiece of English Gothic design and stateliness that has the suggestion of a medieval castle in its lines. With the addition of the college gates in 1950, the Mercyhurst campus became a city landmark.

In 1963, the prep department separated to form Mercyhurst Preparatory School, which is located behind the university. On February 3, 1969, the board of trustees voted to make Mercyhurst a coed college. From its foundation in 1926 until 1972, members of the Sisters of Mercy had been presidents of the college. After 1972, lay presidents led the college. On March 27, 1991, Mercyhurst purchased the 100-year old Redemptorist Seminary in North East and turned into a branch campus offering associate degrees and one-year certificates.

In the past two decades, Mercyhurst has become one of the top comprehensive colleges in the North and the second largest Mercy college in America. Among its five campuses, enrollment has grown to well over 4,000 students while full-time faculty employment numbers includes 168 members. The endowment has increased to more than $20 million and its budget is more than $85 million.[citation needed]

A $40 million program of building and campus renovation has changed the look of Mercyhurst's 50 structures during the past 20 years. Then, in fall 2002, the $7.5 million Audrey Hirt Academic Center opened on the southeast edge of campus, a building funded largely through the college’s $22.8 million capital campaign.[citation needed]

In August 2005, the $5 million Michele and Tom Ridge Health and Safety Building was dedicated at Mercyhurst North East. A $1.3 million residential apartment complex also opened in time for the North East campus' academic year.[citation needed]

Also in 2005, the board of trustees authorized the purchase of 400 acres (1.6 km2) in Girard as the first step towards developing Mercyhurst West, a two-year college serving western Erie County, northwestern Crawford County and northeastern Ohio.

The board of trustees elected Dr. Thomas J. Gamble as the 11th president of Mercyhurst College. Dr. Gamble, who previously served as vice president of academic affairs at the college, assumed the presidency March 1, 2006.

The construction of a $14 million freshman residence hall began in fall 2008 and opened in the fall of 2009. Warde Hall, a 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2). building, houses 318 students and contains a convenience store, media room, TV lounges, computer lab, campus printing station and a fitness center.

Opened in September 2012 is the Center for Academic Engagement, a four-story, 31,000-square-foot (2,900 m2) building that will be set into the rolling hill north of Hammermill Library and feature a skywalk over East Main Drive to connect the two facilities. The building, which will boast many green technologies, will house classrooms and lab space for two of Mercyhurst’s signature programs—Intelligence Studies and Hospitality Management—as well as the Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society and the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP).

Mercyhurst University continues to be guided by the legacy of its founders, the Sisters of Mercy, in educating students in a culture where faith and reason flourish together; where the beauty and power of the liberal arts combine with an appreciation for the dignity of work; and a commitment to serving others.

On January 25, 2012, Mercyhurst College officially became Mercyhurst University.[2]

William Garvey Scandal[edit]

On Sunday, October 10, 2004 the Erie Times-News published a story stating that former Mercyhurst President Dr. William Garvey molested grade school boys while serving as a basketball coach at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Erie. The article further stated that "two current Erie residents told the Erie Times-News that Garvey paid them to have sex with him in the early to mid-1980s, when both men were minors."[3] On December 17 the paper reported that Garvey "abruptly announced his retirement Thursday, months before the completion of a college-ordered investigation Garvey had predicted would exonerate him."[4]

Several months after Garvey retired, the Erie Times-News reported that retired Erie County Judge Michael Palmisano had determined that the allegations against Garvey "appear[ed] to have merit".[5][6]

The University has a park, Garvey Park, named in honor of the former President.[7]


Enrollment at Mercyhurst University's Erie campus is nearly 4,500 students, and Dr. Thomas Gamble is the current president. The university currently is on a trimester calendar and moved to a 4-1-4 calendar for the 2013-2014 school year.[8]

The University still maintains its campus 18 miles (29 km) in North East, Pennsylvania at the site of the former St. Mary's Seminary.[9]

The University has also operated Mercyhurst Corry, a school offering an associate degree in business administration, for over 25 years. Meanwhile, a new campus location at the Booker T. Washington Center makes it easier for disadvantaged members of the Erie community to attain a college degree.

The University's fifth campus, Mercyhurst West, is located in Girard, Pennsylvania, at the site of the former Faith Lutheran Church. Classes began at this location in fall 2006.[10] Due to low enrollment, this campus will close at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. [11]

With a commitment to providing a hands-on education, Mercyhurst has partnerships with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine for student medical care and sports medicine consultation and with Lake View Country Club for expanded internship and employment opportunities for culinary and hospitality students.[citation needed] Mercyhurst is also in the process of expanding its graduate degree offerings. The school’s Master of Science degrees include Accounting, Administration of Justice, Applied Intelligence, Forensic and Biological Anthropology, Organizational Leadership, Secondary Education and Special Education. New programs for the fall include Exercise Science and an Entrepreneurial Track within the Organizational Leadership program.[citation needed]

Notable Mercyhurst faculty include Archaeologist James Adovasio; Epidemiologist David Dausey; two American Board of Forensic Anthropology[12] certified Forensic Anthropologists: Dennis Dirkmaat, and Steven Symes; and Physical Anthropologist Stephen Ousley, co-creator of FORDISC.

Academic Organization[edit]

  • The School of Arts & Humanities
  • The Walker School of Business
  • The Hafenmaier School of Education & Behavioral Sciences
  • The Zurn School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics
  • The School of Social Sciences
  • The School of Health Professions & Public Health
  • The Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies & Information Science

The school is best known for its programs in archaeology and forensic anthropology, intelligence (ISS-MU & CIRAT), forensic science, dance, music, and art therapy.


A Mercyhurst hockey player (center) jostling for the puck with an Air Force Falcons defenceman.

Mercyhurst University competes in three NCAA Division I and 22 NCAA Division II sports as the Mercyhurst Lakers. The Lakers are one of the newest members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). Around 15 percent of the student body consists of student-athletes.

NCAA Division I Sports

NCAA Division II Sports

  • Baseball
  • Men's & Women's Basketball
  • Men's & Women's Cross Country
  • Field Hockey
  • American Football
  • Men's & Women's Golf
  • Men's Lacrosse (ECAC)[13]
  • Women's Lacrosse
  • Women's Rowing (ECAC)
  • Men's & Women's Soccer
  • Softball
  • Men's & Women's Tennis
  • Women's Volleyball
  • Men's & Women's Water Polo (Collegiate Water Polo Association)
  • Wrestling

National Championships

  • 1976: Men's Tennis - NAIA
  • 2004: Women's Rowing (Team Champion) - NCAA Division II
  • 2005: Men's Rowing (4+ Open) - ECAC National Champion
  • 2009: Josh Shields (165 lbs), Wrestling - NCAA Division II
  • 2010: Women's Rowing (8+ Champion) - NCAA Division II
  • 2011: Men's Lacrosse - NCAA Division II

National Finalist

  • 2007: Men's Lacrosse - NCAA Division II
  • 2009: Women's Ice Hockey - NCAA Division I
  • 2009: Women's Rowing - NCAA Division II
  • 2010: Josh Shields (165 lbs), Wrestling - NCAA Division II
  • 2011: Women's Rowing - NCAA Division II
  • 2013: Men's Lacrosse - NCAA Division II

Mercyhurst University Non-Varsity Sports
American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) - Division I

Awards and distinctions[edit]

Mercyhurst has received a number of distinctions, with one of the most important being U.S. News & World Report giving Mercyhurst a “top tier” placement in Regional Universities, North Region, in the 2011 edition of America’s Best Universities.[citation needed] Mercyhurst was also named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for a third year in a row. The distinction is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement.[citation needed] The school’s strong commitment to sustainability garnered leadership-level recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership, which recognizes organizations making a significant commitment to renewable energy initiatives.[citation needed]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ As of October 30, 2013. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ McCracken, Sean (January 26, 2012). "Former Mercyhurst College now Mercyhurst University". Erie Times-News. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ Palatella, Ed (October 10, 2004). "Garvey Past Questioned". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  4. ^ Palatella, Ed (December 17, 2004). "Garvey to Retire". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ Palattella, Ed (August 21, 2005). "Garvey's accusers say memo is 'vindication'". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ Palattella, Ed (August 21, 2005). "Garvey's accusers say memo is 'vindication'". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "American Board of Forensic Anthropology". American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Inc. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  13. ^
  14. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°06′19″N 80°03′13″W / 42.10520°N 80.05373°W / 42.10520; -80.05373