School change to benefit Forensics

Cheyanne Crum, Staff writer

Mercyhurst has been implementing many changes this year. One change, thought to be just a rumor, was the plan to condense the colleges. A major part of the condensing is happening to the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute (MAI), as the Forensics department is being moved under the Tom Ridge College of Intelligence and Applied Sciences.

Upon first learning of this, I had the fear that the MAI was being broken apart.

After speaking to Dennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D., chair of the applied Forensic Science department, my fears were allayed. He explained that the thought process behind the relocation is to separate the “high-profile majors of the university,” but he added that these will in no way affect the students.

When asked about the separation, Dirkmaat stated that calling the MAI’s restructuring a “break-up” is actually incorrect.
“The MAI will still be here, it is not moving,” said Dirkmaat. “None of the offices or labs are moving, we will all still be right here.”

This news definitely made me feel better. He added that crossing colleges like the MAI might actually be useful, as we may have other resources available to us that were not there before.

The other majors that are going to be included under the umbrella of the Tom Ridge College are: applied sociology/social work, communication, mathematics, political science, criminal justice, computer systems, and data science, on top of intelligence studies and applied forensic science.

This combination of majors may seem like an unusual mash up, but Dirkmaat gave me an interesting perspective that makes the mash-up more comprehensible: After the 9/11 attacks, President George Bush created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect United States from another possible terrorist attack. He chose Tom Ridge, former Governor of Pennsylvania, to be the first secretary of the department.

All of these departments would include some combination of every major that was moved into the Tom Ridge College this year. Whether this combination happened on purpose, or if it was completely accidental, it definitely makes more sense now.

Initially, the idea of applied forensic science becoming a part the Tom Ridge College was daunting. No one ever likes change, but after speaking to Dirkmaat, the idea is less frightening. He assured me that the only changes that happening will be “purely administrative.”