Mercyhurst University

Mercyhurst University
Motto Latin: Carpe diem
(Seize the day)
Type Private University
Established 1926
Affiliation Roman Catholic (Sisters of Mercy)
Endowment $31.8 million[1]
President Michael T. Victor[2]
Academic staff
136 full-time
Administrative staff
Students 4,400
Location Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Campus Urban - 74 acres (300,000 m2)
Colors Green and White

NCAA Division IAtlantic Hockey

Nickname Lakers
Affiliations Conference for Mercy Higher Education
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Sports 2 NCAA Division I
22 Division II
Mascot Luke the Laker

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 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that the Sisters of Mercy were a living endowment for the college and worth just as much as a monetary endowment.[3]

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.[3]

In 1963, the college 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 it into a branch campus, offering associate degrees and one-year certificates.[3]

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.[3]

A $40 million program of building and campus renovation has changed the look of Mercyhurst's 50 structures during the past 20 years. The Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center opened in February 1996. 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.[3]

On October 10, 2004 the Erie Times-News published a story stating that former 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."[4] 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."[5] Several months after Garvey retired, an investigation conducted by retired Erie County Judge Michael Palmisano, at the instruction of the board of trustees, determined that the allegations against Garvey "appear[ed] to have merit".[6][6] The University has a park, Garvey Park, named in honor of the former President.[7]

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.[3]

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.[3]

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.[3]

The construction of a $14 million freshman residence hall began in fall 2008, and the hall opened in the fall of 2009. Frances 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.[3]

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 boasts many green technologies, houses 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).[3]

On January 25, 2012, Mercyhurst College officially became Mercyhurst University.[8]

The Board of Trustees of Mercyhurst University appointed Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D., as the 12th president of Mercyhurst University on May 19, 2015. Victor had served as president of Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, since 2006. Victor served as dean of the Walker School of Business at Mercyhurst from 2002 to 2006. He took office on Aug. 3, 2015.

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.[3]


Enrollment at Mercyhurst University's Erie campus is nearly 4,500 students. Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D. is the current president. The university formerly was on a trimester calendar and moved to a 4–1–4 calendar for the 2013–2014 school year. Currently, the university is on a traditional semester calendar.[9]

The University still maintains its campus 18 miles (29 km) in North East, Pennsylvania at the site of the former St. Mary's Seminary.[10]

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, was located in Girard, Pennsylvania, at the site of the former Faith Lutheran Church. Classes began at this location in fall 2006.[11] Due to low enrollment, the campus closed at the end of the 2013–2014 school year.[12]

Notable Mercyhurst faculty include Epidemiologist David Dausey; two American Board of Forensic Anthropology[13] certified Forensic Anthropologists: Dennis Dirkmaat and Steven Symes; and Physical Anthropologist Stephen Ousley, co-creator of FORDISC.

Academic organization

  • 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 biology, archaeology and forensic anthropology, intelligence (ISS-MU & CIRAT), forensic science, dance, music, and art therapy.


Mercyhurst University competes in two NCAA Division I and 22 NCAA Division II sports as the Lakers, 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
  • Men’s rowing
  • 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)[14]
  • Women's lacrosse
  • Women's rowing (ECAC)
  • Men's & Women's Soccer[15]
  • Softball
  • Men's & women's tennis
  • Women's volleyball
  • Men's & women's water polo (Collegiate Water Polo Association on the men's side and Western Water Polo Association on the women's side)
  • 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
  • 2016: Men's Lightweight Rowing: Dad Vail Champions (Lightweight 8+)
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
Non-varsity sports
American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) – Divisions I and III

Notable alumni


  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. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 14, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  2. "Office of the President | Mercyhurst University". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "History | Mercyhurst University". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  4. Palatella, Ed (October 10, 2004). "Garvey Past Questioned". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  5. Palatella, Ed (December 17, 2004). "Garvey to Retire". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  6. 1 2 Palattella, Ed (August 21, 2005). "Garvey's accusers say memo is 'vindication'". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  7. Archived May 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. McCracken, Sean (January 26, 2012). "Former Mercyhurst College now Mercyhurst University". Erie Times-News. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  9. "News". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  10. "Mercyhurst North East | A two-year college". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  12. "American Board of Forensic Anthropology". American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Inc. Archived from the original on 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  13. Archived May 12, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. "Mercyhurst Athletics". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  15. "Matthew Hatchette Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards". 1974-01-05. Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-08-07.

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

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