Education department offers new scholarship

Mercyhurst University officials hope to attract new students to the education department by offering a $15,000 Education Department Scholarship to all incoming freshmen and transfer students, starting in the fall term of 2012.

This equals to a 50 percent discount on tuition and fees. The scholarship applies to those in early childhood, special education and middle level education.

Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Chris Coons said Mercyhurst decided to offer this scholarship because, “Mercyhurst has been preparing students to become successful teachers since our founding in 1926. We remain unwavering in carrying out our Mercy mission and our goal of offering the best preparation for the next generation of teachers.”

When asked about the timing of this, considering the number of teacher layoffs in recent years, he said, “Despite the cutbacks in funding to school districts nationwide, we are committed in our Mercy mission to educating future teachers.

“We do hope that students who have a strong desire to become future teachers will know that we are committed to providing an outside education for them at Mercyhurst University.”

Associate Professor of Education Kathleen Bukowski, Ph.D., said teachers will be needed.

“Teacher education was the first academic major offered at Mercyhurst when the Sisters of Mercy opened its doors, so I am thrilled that the university has decided to offer our first time freshmen and transfers a 50 percent tuition scholarship,” she said.

“I believe that students are watching the budget cuts that are occurring throughout the United States in public education and may be worried about potential employment as a teacher in this economy.

“I firmly believe that this country will see large numbers of teachers retiring in the next decade. Mercyhurst offers world-class teacher training and this scholarship will enable the mission and history of teacher education at this university to continue and flourish,” Bukowski said.

Mercyhurst students have differing views.

“I am taken aback,” said junior Kaylyn Stack, an art education major. “I think this method of inspiring new majors in the midst of a national decline is unfair. Decrease in tuition will most likely inspire instead a wealth of freshmen choosing teaching for arguably the wrong reasons: for the financial benefits as opposed to following a passion.

“At the very least, shouldn’t current education majors deserve the scholarship as a ‘continued investment in education during this financial crisis?’ The most disturbing fact of all is that the scholarship does not even apply to the whole education department. In fact, it doesn’t even apply to me,” she said.

Senior Nikki Sherretts said, “I think it’s beneficial to those who are already considering going to college for those majors. But, I think it’s unfair to those who already go here and those education areas it does not apply to.”

The scholarship is renewable for all four years of study, provided the student remains a full-time education major in the accepted specializations of study.

The scholarship cannot be combined with other scholarships the school currently offers, so should a new education major decide to accept the scholarship, the student would not be eligible for any others, such as the Egan Scholarship.