MSG forum talks retention, renovations

Student retention at Mercyhurst College would improve if upperclassman housing improved. That was one of the messages students attending an MSG forum told college officials Wednesday, Jan. 11.

Vice President for Enrollment Management/Adult Education Michael Lyden, Ph.D., and Associate Vice President for Advancement Jeanette Britt led the forum by asking the MSG members questions and listening to the views of the members and students.

“I was impressed by Dr. Lyden; he seemed very interested in what the students had to say. I thought problems were identified, and I think they will be fixed in the near future,” junior Andrew Miller said.

The four main topics discussed were academics, student support, student life and administrative services. The main questions were regarding what Mercyhurst should continue doing, what it should improve, what new things should be started and what Mercyhurst will look like in 2020.

“The forum was geared around the Strategic Planning Committee and reaching out to the student body to gain feedback about what the students would like to see for the future of Mercyhurst. The discussion points are not anything definite, but more a conversation between administrators and students,” senior and MSG President Meghan Hess said.

The enrollment issue was discussed and how at this point it is more important to find ways to keep students here rather than finding ways to get them to attend Mercyhurst.

“The main thing that I would like to see for the Mercyhurst of 2020 is a complete overhaul and remodeling of the upperclassmen housing,” junior and MSG PR Coordinator Jeremy Dickey said.

“This is an issue that I am extremely passionate about and in the future would love to see specific attention given to remodeling and adding an upperclassmen housing complex that would feature a main hub or union area with lots of facilities for students and then have branched off suite style housing pods. This is my vision for Mercyhurst in 2020,” he said.

Conclusions were drawn that living situations and student experiences were factors that could lead a student to transfer.

Living situations can be a big factor for a student, and the living space is small for upperclassmen, which may cause them to choose to leave. Too much focus may be put on only the freshman year and should be shifted into keeping the upperclassmen from leaving.

“The forum went really well. A lot of topics were covered, and thankfully many of the common issues were fleshed out.

“The administration really seemed to care about fully understanding the issues brought up. One of the things I’d really like to see is to have the upperclassmen housing updated; it seems to be overlooked when it comes to renovations,” junior Matt Teleha said.

Others made points that students may be leaving because they are not having a good student experience. Despite the Student Activities Council providing activities, students still seem to say they have nothing to do on weekends, and MSG would like to solve this problem.

MSG wants to work on providing more events for students, because when students find something to get involved in, they are more likely to stay.

Even so, it was agreed that the education programs provide students with the education to land them good jobs and keep them at Mercyhurst.

Despite already having great programs, the topic of adding more majors and classes was discussed. Students brought up programs like information security, expanding forensics, speech and hearing pathologies, 3D modeling and animation, neuroscience and expanding the languages and graduate programs.

“One of the things I brought up at the meeting was to introduce a 3D Modeling and Animation major/minor. I think there’s a decent amount of interest to support it, and it’d also attract a more diverse group of prospective students,” Teleha said.