Mercyhurst announces major investment in health care programs

Thursday August 29, 2019

University commits millions to address critical need for health care professionals

Mercyhurst University has announced a multiyear plan designed to strengthen and expand many of its two- and four-year health care programs, including nursing, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant, and other health care degrees.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health care industry is expected to add 4 million new jobs in the U.S. through 2026. Regionally, health care providers partnering with Mercyhurst have expressed an urgent need for nurses and allied health professionals.

The initiative – which calls for a multimillion-dollar investment in facility improvements, new equipment and leading-edge technology – will streamline health care education at Mercyhurst and offer its entire complement of nearly a dozen degree programs on the Erie campus over the next two years. The university also anticipates adding additional programs, such as this fall’s new online Master of Science in Nursing.

The plan includes a phased consolidation of the university’s North East campus with the Erie campus. The transition will relocate North East’s academic programs, the majority of which are health carerelated, to Erie by June 2021.

Key projects include renovations to the university’s Wayne Street Complex to support the occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant, and respiratory therapy programs, and upgrades to the Audrey Hirt Academic Center, which will house the nursing programs and simulation laboratories.

“As our community and the nation as a whole work to address today’s health care needs, our mission calls us to expand our focus in these disciplines, where we already maintain a reputation for producing dedicated professionals who understand the critical role that health care plays in transforming communities,” said Joseph G. NeCastro, chair of the Mercyhurst University Board of Trustees.

Since Michael T. Victor became its president in 2015, Mercyhurst has enrolled its largest freshman class in the university’s history, re-envisioned its academic curriculum, added new, in-demand majors including cyber security, and invested nearly $50 million in capital improvements at its Erie campus. Philanthropic support has topped $16 million; just this year the university received its largest alumni gift of $4 million, and a record $5 million in grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

“We are in the midst of one of the most dynamic moments in American higher education,” said Victor. “The winners are likely to be those who find imaginative ways to energize their institutions and respond to industry trends and the changing needs of students. This new initiative strengthens our university, creates convenience for our students and opens new opportunities for them. It continues the mission-driven legacy of Mercyhurst North East, which is to create educational pathways for nontraditional and underserved student populations. Additionally, the relocation of programs to the main campus will better serve the burgeoning need for health care professionals within the Erie region.”

The transitioning of programs to Erie will not affect current North East students. Students new to the North East campus in 2020 will begin their studies at North East before transitioning to Erie to complete their degrees. All who enroll by 2021 will be permanently based in Erie.

In addition, the Mercyhurst Board of Trustees and the Administration are committed to a plan that complements the community of North East and are working with real estate professionals to fill the university’s North East facilities.

“North East has been a warm and gracious home to Mercyhurst University,” said Victor. “We are most grateful to the community of North East, particularly the family of Robert Miller, whose inspiration and generosity in support of Mercyhurst North East will long be treasured as part of our history. We are committed to securing a successor that will be a beneficial partner for the area.”

The university will continue to communicate updates as details become available and throughout the course of the transition. To learn more about the plan, inquiries can be sent to future@mercyhurst.edu.