Mercyhurst University is due to set sail with the Flagship Niagara League in a new partnership.
On Aug. 28, Mercyhurst became an “Official University Sponsor” of the U.S. Brig Niagara, a partnership that will benefit both organizations.
During the previous school year, the Flagship Niagara played a key role in a three-credit History class at Mercyhurst. The class, which became the birthplace of the partnership, focused on the history of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes with a look toward the future of the areas.
After the class was over, each student participated in a two-and-a-half-week period of intensive sail training on board the U.S. Brig Niagara. The 10 students, three of whom were from other universities, became a part of the crew as trainees. They learned everything they needed to know to run the ship, and are all permanent members of the crew for life.
The course, now titled “Waves of the Past, Leaders for the Future,” will be available in Mini 4 this spring followed by the two-and-a-half-week trip after finals.
Ben Scharff, the assistant director of the History Department and professor for the course, said he hopes this will “be something that makes Mercyhurst unique.” He hopes the class and trip will become a staple for each and every Mercyhurst student before they graduate.
Scharff took his idea of using the Flagship Niagara to Caleb Pifer, the vice president of External Relations and Advancement here at Mercyhurst.
“Professor Scharff thought it would be interesting to use (the ship) as a floating extension of Mercyhurst,” Pifer said.
The partnership is favorable for both Mercyhurst and the Flagship Niagara League. The two are now co-branded, and the U.S. Brig Niagara will fly the Mercyhurst flag on her mast.
It also means there will be alumni sessions on the ship in Cleveland, Buffalo and Erie.
“The Niagara is iconic. Attach our name and reputation and their name and reputation, and you have a symbiotic relationship,” Pifer said. “This partnership is only in its infancy, and will likely grow and develop in the upcoming years into a successful association.”