Mercyhurst University

Mercyhurst University, formerly Mercyhurst College, is an American Catholic liberal arts college in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Mercyhurst University
MottoLatin: Carpe diem
(Seize the day)
TypePrivate University
AffiliationRoman Catholic (Sisters of Mercy)
Endowment$31.8 million[1]
PresidentMichael T. Victor, J.D. [2]
Academic staff
136 full-time
Administrative staff
Students2,759 [3]
Location, ,
United states
CampusUrban - 74 acres (300,000 m2)
ColorsBlue, Green and White
AthleticsNCAA Division IAtlantic Hockey NCAA Division IIPSAC
AffiliationsConference for Mercy Higher Education
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Sports3 NCAA Division I
22 Division II
MascotLuke the Laker


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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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."[5] 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."[6] 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".[7][7] The campus' central park was once named "Garvey Park" in honor of Garvey, but following the allegations was renamed to "Trinity Green".[8]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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).[4]

On January 25, 2012, Mercyhurst College officially became Mercyhurst University.[9]

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.

On August 16, 2018, Mercyhurst University opened a $25 million residence hall. Ryan Hall houses more than 350 student suites[10]. It also includes a dining hall, lounge area, convenience store, and a 150-seat banquet hall [11].

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.[4] To do this Mercyhurst embraces and lives its five core values, being socially merciful, globally responsible, compassionately hospitable, intellectually creative, and reflectively aware.[12]


The university still maintains its campus 18 miles (29 km) in North East, Pennsylvania at the site of the former St. Mary's Seminary.[13] 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.[14] Due to low enrollment, the campus closed at the end of the 2013–2014 school year.[15]


Enrollment at Mercyhurst University's Erie campus is nearly 4,500 students. 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.[16] It has more than 59 undergraduate degrees and almost 25 percent of the student body chooses to study abroad. [17][18] Students at Mercyhurst all complete the REACH curriculum, which stands for Reason and Faith, Expression and Creativity, Analytical Thought, Contexts and Systems, and Humans in Connection.[18]

The university is organized into four colleges:

  • The Hafenmaier College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
  • The Walker College of Business
  • The Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences
  • The Ridge College of Intelligence Studies & Applied Sciences

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 23 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
  • 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)[19]
  • Women's lacrosse
  • Women's rowing (ECAC)
  • Men's & Women's Soccer[20]
  • 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
  • Women's bowling [21]
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
  • 2010: Men's Lightweight Rowing: Dad Vail Champions (Lightweight 8+)
  • 2011: Men's lacrosse – NCAA Division II
  • 2011: Men's Lightweight Rowing: Dad Vail Champions (Lightweight 8+)
  • 2012: Men's Lightweight Rowing: Dad Vail Champions (Lightweight 8+)
  • 2016: Men's Lightweight Rowing: Dad Vail Champions (Lightweight 8+)
National finalist
  • 2005: Ben McAvinew (184 lbs), wrestling – NCAA Division II
  • 2006: Zach Schafer (165 lbs), wrestling – NCAA Division II
  • 2007: Men's lacrosse – NCAA Division II
  • 2008: Hudson Harrison (165 lbs), wrestling – 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
  • 2016: Willie Bohince (125 lbs), wrestling – NCAA Division II
  • 2017: Willie Bohince (125 lbs), wrestling – NCAA Division II
Non-varsity sports
American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) – Divisions I and III

Notable people


Notable Mercyhurst faculty include epidemiologist David Dausey.



  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.
  4. "History | Mercyhurst University". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  5. Palatella, Ed (October 10, 2004). "Garvey Past Questioned". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  6. Palatella, Ed (December 17, 2004). "Garvey to Retire". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  7. Palattella, Ed (August 21, 2005). "Garvey's accusers say memo is 'vindication'". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  8. Archived May 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  9. McCracken, Sean (January 26, 2012). "Former Mercyhurst College now Mercyhurst University". Erie Times-News. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  10. "Mercyhurst University Officially Opens Ryan Hall".
  11. "Mercyhurst dedicates Ryan Hall Aug. 16". Mercyhurst University.
  12. "Mission". Mercyhurst University.
  13. "Mercyhurst North East | A two-year college". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2009-05-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. "News". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  16. "Fast Facts". Mercyhurst University.
  17. "Academics". Mercyhurst University.
  18. Archived May 12, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  19. "Mercyhurst Athletics". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  20. "Mercyhurst Athletics To Add Women's Bowling In 2019-20". Mercyhurst University Athletics.
  21. "Matthew Hatchette Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards". 1974-01-05. Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-08-07.

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