In 1991, Mercyhurst University established the North East campus as a lineal descendant of the Mercyhurst College Career Institute and its outreach efforts through classes offered in Corry, Pennsylvania. The intent was to create an “opportunity and career college” dedicated to providing post-secondary education for capable learners who seek to learn job-entry skills; in essence, to fulfill a community college role in the Mercyhurst tradition. This concept effectively broadened the vision and scope of Mercyhurst University to include both nontraditional students and those with academically varied interests and talents.
Mercyhurst North East continues the challenge of offering focused programs to qualified students in an accredited, developmentally sound, and academically rigorous learning environment. Students may enroll in one-year job preparation programs at the certificate level, and two-year associate degree programs in a variety of fields, not limited to but including the health care professions, business and technology, and the culinary arts. The standards for academic programming are developed as a part of the university as a whole and are reviewed and maintained through established university-wide processes. Most of the courses are applicable to further study in baccalaureate programs at Mercyhurst University or other institutions, including two bachelor completion programs currently located on the North East campus.
The purpose of MNE is clear: to enrich and prepare students to successfully manage future academics, career and life challenges. This is the structure that fulfills the vision and Christian commitment of Mercyhurst University to the intrinsic value of each individual.
The Campus and its Resources
Located in North East, Pennsylvania along the shores of Lake Erie, the North East campus is situated on 84 acres just a few blocks from the town’s center with its traditional architecture and small-town atmosphere. The Redemptorist Fathers previously operated the property for 110 years as St. Mary’s College. The North East campus consists of thirteen buildings providing an imposing vista behind the encircling iron fence. Facilities and resources are continually expanded and enhanced to meet the needs of the growing campus, including modernized academic and residential buildings, the Michele and Tom Ridge Regional Health and Safety Building, a majestic Gothic-style chapel, an observatory, a gymnasium with a weight and exercise facility, residential townhouses, a swimming pool in a nearby center, and several playing fields for soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball. The campus has a full internet infrastructure within the buildings, with both hardwired and wireless connections through the university’s system. There are multiple computer laboratories that provide basic resources in word processing, spreadsheets, and databases, with web browsers permitting full connection to the Erie campus’s Library and its resources, including online scholarly materials and access to the web-based catalogue for the university’s library collection.
Along with the impressive library, the campus facilities also boast well-equipped laboratory and classroom spaces to support programming of all allied health majors, including advanced patient simulators to provide the most realistic training possible for these majors. A distinct dining hall and three instructional kitchens support the culinary arts instruction. Basic science laboratories for instruction and research in anatomy, physiology, and microbiology are all conveniently located in the original academic building, Miller Hall. Miller Hall also houses the campus Bookstore offering textbooks and supplemental needs for all courses, major specific supplies, and a multitude of athletic and non-athletic apparel, collectibles, etc. to express your school spirit.
For more than two decades, the addition of new programs and continual growth in enrollment required Mercyhurst North East to undergo numerous renovations and improvements. In fall 2007, MNE extended their presence in North East with the purchase of the former First National Bank building, now known as the Janet L. Miller Center for Growth and Academic Excellence. This building is home to the practical nursing and municipal police training programs. The Hirtzel Human Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology Laboratory, a $1.2 million mega-lab, opened in the fall of 2009 within the JLM Center for Growth and Academic Excellence. The lab provides an unprecedented learning opportunity for science and nursing students on both the Erie and the North East campuses while taking its place among the best-equipped forensic labs in the country.
A number of milestones have occurred throughout the years. In 2012, Dr. Robert S. Miller donated his residence which is adjacent to the North East high school and across the street from the North East campus of Mercyhurst University. His vision was to connect the two entities and to provide educational opportunities for those who otherwise might not seek higher education. The Miller estate includes the 5,200-square foot residence and a 4,500 square foot barn on 11.6 acres of land. Currently, the residence is used as a conference and events center. The garage was transformed into a new Hilton hotel laboratory and allows students in the Hospitality Management Program hands on experience in an actual hotel room and laundry facilities. Plans for the remainder of the estate are under consideration.
In early 2013, the College was awarded university status. This status extended to include the campuses of North East, Booker T. Washington Center and Corry. Later that year, Erie associate offerings were established as an alternative way for working professionals to earn an associated degree. As such, the program is designed with a weekend and evening schedule to accommodate non-traditional students. In this format, individuals are able to earn an associate degree in three years, going part-time.
In the fall of 2014, MNE launched a Bachelor of Science Health Care Science degree. In 2016, this program was renamed Health Care Management to more accurately describe the intention and focus of this degree. This program is a completion degree for our allied health programs. Students who have earned their associate degree in an allied health field such as Medical Lab Technician, Respiratory Therapy, Physical Therapist Assistant, or Occupational Therapy Assistant and have passed their licensure exam can complete their bachelor’s degree in two years.
In March 2016, MNE added the Hirtzel Maternity and Pediatric Simulation Learning Center containing four high-fidelity Laerdal simulators for use in maternity and pediatric education. The simulators reveal life-like qualities including vocalizations, palpable pulses, and a chest that rises and falls with each breath. Using simulation allows faculty to ensure that students care for patients with specific conditions. Students explore how each simulation can be used to improve their current and future practice, and ultimately to provide safe, quality care.
As the initiatives started at the Booker T. Washington Center have expanded, Mercyhurst University has appropriated funds to improve services. Beginning fall 2014, the Booker T. Washington Center was directly connected via the web to the Erie and North East campuses allowing students and personnel direct access to the resources of the university. In addition, a second computer classroom was added allowing access to computers while still conducting class in the other classrooms. Other resources include the addition of tutors for students attending MNE at the Booker T. Washington Center and new programs. While the Criminal Justice Associates degree continues to be a vital component of the North East campus, the associate degree in CJ will also run at the Booker T. Washington center as a compliment to the Business, Medical Assistant, Early Childhood, and Liberal Arts programs that continue to thrive there.
A number of classes continue to be offered in the former Corrian Hotel in Corry, Pennsylvania. This provides convenient access for residents of neighboring counties to avail themselves of a Mercyhurst education. The building, owned by the Corry Higher Education Council, was renamed the Bruce and Arlene Smith Education Center.
Mercyhurst has shown exemplary dedication to its associate and certificate programs. These programs continue to flourish and multiply based on the career needs and desire to create opportunities for the community that has been such a big part of Mercyhurst.