On Nov. 13, Mercyhurst announced a $1.5 million donation to the university from Thomas B. Hagen, is a prominent Erie business and civic leader who also has a commitment to historic preservation.
This gift will go to the university’s general fund, and a small portion of the donation will help build the program for the U.S. Brig Niagara in the newly named Thomas B. Hagen Department of History. Hagen’s donation is the largest gift given with no restrictions attached, and the school will use it leaders deem necessary.
“We are delighted with this generous gift from Tom Hagen,” said President Michael T. Victor. “We are extremely excited to put it to good use in supporting both the History department and our Mercy Mission.”
Hagen has a lifelong commitment to preserving Erie history and has done a number of things to preserve Erie’s heritage. Hagen has purchased properties and restored homes to save as much of Erie’s history as he can.
This gift is intended to expand the learning experience from the Flagship to also include students from across the nation who could benefit from the opportunity.
With this donation, the History department has been dubbed with Hagen’s name to honor him and his generous gift to the university.
“We were just the department of History before, but it makes sense for a lot of reasons,” said John Olszowka, chair of the department. “I think it’s a wonderful honor for our part to be named after him.”
Hagen has worked with the History department at Mercyhurst before. A few years ago, there was a project for the Public History program where students helped create a history of Little Italy in downtown Erie. Hagen anonymously helped underwrite the costs of the publication of the findings.
“It’s good that someone cares enough to donate to the department,” Julianna Ruzbacki, senior History major, said.