Hello university, goodbye Highland Square?

Students and administration met on Thursday, March 18, to enjoy mocktails, discuss issues affecting the college community and find out what band will play at this year’s Springfest.

The Mocktail Forum started with mocktails and desserts and then a presentation by Mercyhurst College Student Government Vice-President Santina Sgro. Sgro discussed the Capital Campaign.

The Capital Campaign aims to benefit the students by investing $50 million to the school over 10 years. It does this by investing in the future and growing the endowment. Sgro said that students are invited to participate by donating money.

Students can vote to raise the student activity fee, place the donation on their bill, have MSG donate with leftover funds or make no contribution at all. The money donated can go toward whatever the student body chooses, such as book funds or scholarships.

Students may contact MSG President Dinorah Sanchez for further questions or to give feedback.

After discussing the Capital Campaign, Mercyhurst College President Dr. Thomas Gamble spoke about the Highland Square Apartments and Mercyhurst becoming a university.

“I want to let you know, I apologize,” Gamble said with regard to the apartments.

He called the housing unacceptable and provided two options to fix it. The first option is to knock the housing down. This option will cost the school about $22 million and will take one to two years. This means students will temporarily have to live in quads on Briggs and Lewis.

The second option is to renovate the buildings and replace items including the windows and carpeting. This option would be completed by fall 2010.

The Board of Trustees will decide between the two options at their meeting in April.

Gamble then discussed the transition to university status.

A college is an institution that does one thing and a university is an institution that does multiple things, Gamble said. A university includes an adult school, associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees and graduate degrees.

According to Gamble, Mercyhurst College is already set up like a university but without the title. The university status would be an “umbrella” that covers all of the schools within it.

Those working on this want to stabilize the undergraduate part of Mercyhurst but increase the graduate studies.

Becoming a university will also give Mercyhurst easier recognition internationally. In Canada and Europe, high schools are considered colleges.

According to Gamble, calling Mercyhurst a university will give the college community the potential to grow in certain respects, and students can make the decision whether this is a good idea or not.

Two freshmen who attended the forum had positive reactions to the issues addressed by the administration.

“I believe becoming a university will give Mercyhurst the respect that it truly deserves and give it the advertisement it needs to expand beyond Erie,” freshman Elizabeth Mordenga said.

Freshman Senator Caitlin Handerhan added: “The forum addressed many key issues facing administration, and it is always important to give students not only the opportunity to voice their views, but also all of the information.”

“When I asked many of my constituents how they felt about the capital campaign, few of them even knew what the campaign entailed. I think the forum provided a relaxed setting to ask questions and get all the information.”

At the end of the forum, the Springfest band was announced.

On Friday, May 7, Hellogoodbye will be performing in the Mercyhurst Athletic Center.

“I am so excited that Hellogoodbye is coming to Mercyhurst,” freshman Jeremy Dickey said. “When they announced the band, I was giddy like a school girl.”

Freshman Brittany Jones said, “I’ve listened to the band for a couple of years now and never got the chance to see them in concert. I’m super excited about the choice.”
Handerhan agreed with Jones.

“Hellogoodbye is such a great Springfest choice,” Handerhan said. “The reaction from students when it was announced was overwhelming.”

Springfest will take place Friday and Saturday, May 7-8.
Tickets for Hellogoodbye will be free to Mercyhurst students and will be available prior to the concert.