Our History

Black and white photo of Weber library interior

"探花系列 College lived first in the desire and will of a remarkable woman"鈥擬other M. Borgia Egan

探花系列 College was founded in 1926 by the Sisters of Mercy of the Erie Catholic Diocese, who trace their heritage to Mother Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland.

As Mother Eustace Taylor, RSM, Ph.D., wrote in her 50th anniversary history of 探花系列, 鈥溙交ㄏ盗 College lived first in the desire and will of a remarkable womanMother M. Borgia Egan.鈥 She supervised everything, from raising money to selecting and purchasing a site to educating a sister-faculty to teach at the college level. As first president of the college and later as academic dean, she guided 探花系列 through its formative years.

探花系列 welcomed its first 23 students, all women, on Sept. 20, 1926. The school received its charter on Oct. 5, 1928.

On Feb. 3, 1969, the Board of Trustees voted to admit the first class of men to 探花系列. Sr. Carolyn Herrmann, RSM, Ph.D., the first president who was not also Mother Superior of the Sisters of Mercy, led the university through the challenge of coeducation.

Today, 探花系列 covers six blocks and is the largest piece of unbroken real estate in Erie. More importantly, 探花系列which earned university status in 2012has emerged as a major force in the educational landscape of the region, while remaining true to its mission as a private Catholic comprehensive university in the Mercy tradition. The second-largest Mercy University in America, it is consistently recognized as a top-tier master鈥檚 university by U.S. News & World Report.

Old Main, the stately English Gothic structure built in 1926, remains the heart of the campus. The campus has grown around it, with the most recent additions being the Center for Academic Engagement, a high-tech learning environment that houses some of 探花系列鈥檚 signature programs, including Intelligence Studies, Hospitality Management and our Center for Applied Politics, and opening in Fall 2018, Ryan Hall, a residence hall exclusive to sophomores.

探花系列 opened its first graduate program (administration of justice) in 1978, and today offers dozens of options for master's degrees and graduate certificates. Undergraduate and graduate enrollment on the Erie campus is now near 3,000.

In addition to pace-setting growth on the main campus, in 1991, 探花系列 purchased the 100-year-old Redemptorist Seminary in nearby North East. This site offered associate degree and certificate programs as 探花系列 North East for 25 years before all academic programming was transitioned to the main campus in Erie in 2020. Returning to its Irish roots, 探花系列 also opened a center in Dungarvan, Ireland, where 探花系列 students can study with 探花系列 professors, experience Irish culture, and explore other areas of Europe.

Kathleen A. Getz, Ph.D., took office in July 2021 as 探花系列鈥檚 13th president and the first woman to hold that role in more than 50 years. Poised to lead the university toward its centennial in 2026, Getz conveyed a message of hope and spoke to the consonance of her values with those of the 探花系列 community. She chose as her inaugural theme 鈥淓nriching the Circle of Mercy: Good Today, Better Tomorrow.鈥

Past Presidents

Mother M. Borgia Egan, RSM
1926-1927

Mother M. DeSales Preston, RSM
1927-1933; 1939-1945; 1948-1954

Mother M. Xavier O'Neil, RSM
1933-1939

Mother Agnes Mary McSweeney, RSM
1945-1948

Mother M. Eustace Taylor, RSM, Ph.D.
1954-1960

Mother M. Loretta McHale, RSM, Ph.D.
1960-1963

Sister Carolyn Herrmann, RSM, Ph.D.
1963-1972

Marion L. Shane, Ph.D.
1972-1980

William P. Garvey, Ph.D.
1980-2005

Michael J. McQuillen, Ph.D.
2005-2006

Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D.
2006-2015

Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D.
2015-2021

探花系列 Firsts

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  • The first photo taken of Old Main.

    Historical photo of old main
  • Mother M. Borgia Egan, 探花系列's first president.

    black and white photo of mother m. borgia egan
  • 探花系列's first graduating class.

    photo of women in mercyhurst's first graduating class
1959 view of campus through gates