Mercyhurst University
Former names
Mercyhurst College (1926–2012)[1]
MottoLatin: Carpe diem
(Seize the day)
TypePrivate university
Established1926; 98 years ago (1926)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Sisters of Mercy)
Academic affiliations
Conference for Mercy Higher Education
Endowment$31.8 million[2]
PresidentKathleen Getz[3]
Academic staff
136 full-time
Administrative staff
Location, ,
CampusUrban, 74 acres (300,000 m2)
Colors   Blue, green, & white
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IAtlantic Hockey NCAA Division IIPSAC
MascotLuke the Laker

Mercyhurst University is a private Roman Catholic university in Erie, Pennsylvania.


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 Borgia Egan, who became the first president of Mercyhurst College. The college received its charter on October 5, 1928.[5]

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.[5]

Among its five campuses, enrollment has grown to over 4,000 students instructed by 168 faculty. The endowment has increased to more than $20 million and its budget is more than $85 million.[5]

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.[5]

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.[5]

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.[5]

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.[5]

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).[5] On January 25, 2012, Mercyhurst College officially became Mercyhurst University.[6]

The Board of Trustees of Mercyhurst University appointed Michael T. Victor as the 12th president of Mercyhurst University on May 19, 2015. Victor had served as president of Lake Erie College since 2006. Victor served as dean of the Walker School of Business at Mercyhurst from 2002 to 2006. He took office on August 3, 2015.[citation needed]

On August 16, 2018, Mercyhurst University opened a $25 million residence hall. Ryan Hall houses more than 350 student suites.[7] It also includes a dining hall, lounge area, convenience store, and a 150-seat banquet hall.[8]

Sexual assault allegations

On October 10, 2004, the Erie Times-News published a story stating that former president 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."[9] 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."[10]

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

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 57 undergraduate degrees and almost 25 percent of the student body chooses to study abroad.[17][18] Undergraduate 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.[19]

The university is organized into four colleges:

Popular Culture

A scene in the Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do! takes place on Mercyhurst's campus.


See also: Mercyhurst Lakers

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. In April 2024, Mercyhurst announced they will begin transitioning to the Division I level, joining the Northeast Conference for the 2024-25 season.

NCAA Division I sports
NCAA Division II sports
National championships
National finalist
Non-varsity sports
American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) – Divisions I and III



  1. ^ "OUR HISTORY". Mercyhurst University. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Mercyhurst University names Kathleen Getz 13th president". Mercyhurst University (Press release). May 11, 2021. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  4. ^ "College Navigator – Mercyhurst University".
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "History | Mercyhurst University". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  6. ^ McCracken, Sean (January 26, 2012). "Former Mercyhurst College now Mercyhurst University". Erie Times-News. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  7. ^ "Mercyhurst University Officially Opens Ryan Hall".
  8. ^ "Mercyhurst dedicates Ryan Hall Aug. 16". Mercyhurst University.
  9. ^ Palatella, Ed (October 10, 2004). "Garvey Past Questioned". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  10. ^ Palatella, Ed (December 17, 2004). "Garvey to Retire". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  11. ^ Palattella, Ed (August 21, 2005). "Garvey's accusers say memo is 'vindication'". Erie Times-News. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  12. ^ [1] Archived May 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Mercyhurst North East | A two-year college". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  14. ^ "About West | Mercyhurst College - West Campus". Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  15. ^ "Mercyhurst University closing branch 'west' campus in Girard due to low enrollment - Daily Journal". Archived from the original on 21 November 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  16. ^ "News". Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  17. ^ "Fast Facts". Mercyhurst University.
  18. ^ "Academics". Mercyhurst University.
  19. ^ "REACH Curriculum". Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  20. ^ "Mercyhurst Athletics". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  21. ^ "Mercyhurst Athletics To Add Women's Bowling In 2019-20". Mercyhurst University Athletics. 3 January 2019.
  22. ^ "Matthew Hatchette Past Stats, Statistics, History, and Awards". 1974-01-05. Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-08-07.

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