A few weeks ago three of my grandchildren, ages 10, 10, & 9, flew solo from Chicago for a three-day visit. As they were exiting the plane in Philadelphia on Thursday evening, their first words, after “Hi Grandma” were: “Can we go to your school and eat in the cafeteria?” Now such praise for campus dining is certainly not ordinary. Of course, the endless scoops of ice cream and the never-ending supply of French fries were on their minds. As a grandmother, naturally, I was only too happy to comply with their request. This is from a mother who used to toss out all the boxes of sugar-coated cereal at least quarterly. But now…I am the grandmother, not the mother.
Since we transitioned from College to University early last fall, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is: “So, what’s different now that Gwynedd Mercy is a University?” My response is that we are the same, but different. The University continues to be a place for teaching and learning in the Mercy tradition, where we will perpetuate our commitment to prepare Distinctive Mercy Graduates…graduates who are competent in their academic and professional fields and thus able to both contribute to and prosper in an economy that is constantly adapting to new challenges, new technologies, and new forms of competition; graduates who demonstrate a foundation in liberal learning including the skills, abilities, talents and values that are the basis for long-term employment and career success, as well as for the vitality of our democracy and the future of global understanding, engagement, and community; and graduates who live lives congruent with our Mercy core values, especially the value of service.
On the other hand, some exciting differences include an expansion of our academic offerings to include doctoral degree programs in nursing and education and online degree programs in business, nursing and education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. New on-ground locations beyond Gwynedd Valley, as well as establishing a consortium of five Catholic universities, known as The Alpha Group, that will collaboratively provide student and faculty exchange opportunities with Chinese Universities, and an agreement with Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland, where our first student exchange will occur during the next academic year– just to mention a few changes. Our expanded academic facilities, including the just “blessed and dedicated” University Hall, reflect our commitment to academic excellence across all disciplines. The new Trading Room in University Hall provides enhanced academic space not only for our undergraduate business students, but also for our new campus-based MBA degree program…another difference going forward.
During my weekend with Quinn, Ava and Will, there were differences, for sure: I watched them trampolining at Skyzone rather than joining them; likewise, I watched them tubing at Spring Mountain; and, along with other grandparents, I watched them building Lego animals at a Bricks for Kidz event in Center City. On the other hand, some things were very much the same: we played Scrabble, Sorry and cards, plus I joyfully read stories and poems to them every night.
As we continue to transition and grow into our University status, please know that my appreciation and gratitude for your loyal and ongoing support remains constant, just bigger since there’s so much more for which to be thankful.
*This was originally featured in the Spring 2014 edition of the TODAY Magazine. Click here to explore further.