MERVelous Mercy Orienation Leaders

Yesterday, we welcomed our new first-year and transfer students to the Gwynedd Mercy University community. The organization and administration of our orientation program fell largely to our MERVelous “Orientation Leaders.”   Through a rigorous nomination and selection process, upper class students were chosen to serve in this critically important role. They completed a comprehensive training program prior to the yesterday’s arrival of the Class of 2018.


The orientation program extends throughout the weekend, including a Day of Service today.   New students traveled to various locations in the Greater Philadelphia area where, along with their orientation leaders and a university faculty/staff member, they engaged in a service activity.

OL service OL service 2

Following their service activity, students returned to campus and engaged in a reflection activity, which was facilitated by their faculty/staff member and Orientation Leader. Our goal is to introduce our new students to the values that permeate our campus culture and to engage them in both education and action, especially as it pertains to the Mercy value of service. It’s a great start to the new academic year!

Find out more about our orientation program here–

GMercyU Down the Shore

GMercyU shore

As a former Midwesterner, one thing I have learned during my tenure at GMercyU is the draw of the Jersey shore. Over the last few summers, I have had the opportunity to visit many alumni, trustees and friends of the University in various locations up and down the shore. I am always amazed, but have come to appreciate, the generational family-draw of the different shore towns, as well as the distances former Philadelphians will travel every year to spend a week in the very same location where they spent their youth.

At first, I really could not understand the rationale for weekend trips that included hours-long traffic jams on Friday night and equally congested roadways on Sunday night’s return trip. Of course, over time, I came to learn about the all the tricks of extending the week-end trip, as well as the psychological impact of “crossing the bridge” on the way to the shore. My prior “beach” experiences had always about the Great Lakes, or smaller Midwestern lakes in Michigan or Wisconsin. The water was never warm and there were no boardwalks and no salt-water taffy; plus, no dolphin sightings!

Earlier this summer, the University sponsored a very successful alumni reunion at the Springfield Inn in Sea Isle. Additionally, on my most recent trip to the shore, I caught sight of the Gwynedd Mercy University banner flying along the beach. Thanks to trustee and pilot, David Mallach, for this great PR. While the peak shore season is coming to an end, the banner will continue to fly through Labor Day, so if you are a shore person, keep your eyes peeled for the GMercyU banner!

GMercyU shore banner

MERVelous News – GMercyU Named a Value All-Star


Last week, Gwynedd Mercy University was named as one of MONEY’s Best Colleges 2014-2015, ranking #11 on the list of “Value All-Stars”.  The story identifies institutions that deliver great value in three categories:  educational quality, affordability, and career earnings. As a “top value” university, GMercyU was recognized for launching students into successful careers, including students who might not otherwise succeed due to varied economic and/or academic backgrounds. 

What the article doesn’t say, but of equal and even more importance, is that we do all this in the tradition of Mercy.  Our Mercy charism is the distinctive style we bring to our Catholic Christian core belief system and it infiltrates every aspect of our teaching/learning community. Mercy underpins and infuses our commitment to academic excellence and lifelong learning; our respect for the dignity of every human person; our commitment to education of the whole person—mind, body and spirit; and through action and education, the promotion of compassion and justice toward those with less.

Our academic community is fully engaged in enabling our students to “discover the NEXT” by preparing them with those habits of mind and heart that will enable them to meet the great challenges of their day and assist them in their quest for truth and knowledge, for faith and reason and in their struggle to create a more just society for and with their fellow citizens.  I think you would agree that this is also a “value added” that we bring to our graduates!

MERVelous Mercy Pilgrims

(Back row, L to R)  Mary Jo Pierantozzi, School of Education Assistant Professor, Ray Penyak, Kathleen Carroll, Carol Evans, Assistant Professor of Music, Chelsea Kahana, Dr. Owens, President of Gwynedd Mercy University Front row, L to R:  Gabrielle Muller, Jacqui Gallagher, Emily Downey.

(Back row, L to R) Mary Jo Pierantozzi, School of Education Assistant Professor, Ray Penyak, Kathleen Carroll, Carol Evans, Assistant Professor of Music, Chelsea Kahana, President Owens
(Front row, L to R) Gabrielle Muller, Jacqui Gallagher, Emily Downey.

Yesterday we gathered to bless our students and faculty colleagues, who are traveling to Ireland to visit, among many places, the original House of Mercy in Dublin.  Our students and faculty will join with other Pilgrims from Mercy colleges and universities around the world and our gathering yesterday was intended to send them forth with a prayer that God will bless them on their journey.  While I will not be accompanying our pilgrims, I will be following their journey via their blogs, which will be posted on the university’s website.  I invite you to similarly follow their journey.

A Pilgrimage is traditionally a journey to a holy place—a place where saints have walked, a place where God has met people and blessed them.  People throughout the ages have journeyed on pilgrimage as searchers and seekers:  for God, for truth, for renewed meaning and purpose in life, for healing and peace, for the beauty of creation, and for the delight of meeting people and making friends!

Of course, Ireland is indeed a holy place for all within the “Circle of Mercy.”  It is the land where Mercy found a special home in the heart of Catherine McAuley and where she founded the original House of Mercy on Baggot Street in Dublin in 1827.  It is a place from which Catherine’s vision and work blossomed into the world-wide community of religious sisters, associates, and colleagues whose commitment to the mission and values of Mercy continues to bring forth good to our day and time. Thus, today, we sent them forth with pride, with delight, and with confidence that they will engage the pilgrimage with enthusiasm, generosity and joy.  I ask that you also keep our pilgrims in your prayers.

MERVelous Doctoral Degree Programs in Nursing and Education

Left to right:  Janelle Clark;  Heidi Wright;  Joe Schatz;  Julie Britton

Left to right: Janelle Clark; Heidi Wright; Joe Schatz; Julie Britton

Summer is a very busy time at GMercyU! I chuckle when people say: “Don’t you have the summers off?” Well, that may be the folklore but the reality of the situation is that summer is a happenin’ time at the University. This summer is the inaugural season for our two new doctoral degree programs, i.e., doctoral degree in Nursing Practice (DNP) and doctoral degree in Education (EdD). Our DNP program started its first cohort in May and includes four students who are pictured above. Information about the program is included below, as well as by clicking here.

The EdD program has already accepted over 25 students and the first group will meet for their “kick-off weekend” in mid-September. Information about the program is included below, as well as by clicking here.

These new doctoral degree programs were developed with input from practitioners in the field and represent the cutting-edge of knowledge and professional practice in two fields that have always been a hallmark of Mercy higher education.

In her book, Tender Courage, former Gwynedd Mercy University President, Sister Isabelle Keiss paints a picture of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, which is one of “openness to new ideas, the readiness to adapt and assimilate, the ability to learn from the experience of contemporaries and the desire to share that experience with others…” (p. 88). Clearly, the University’s new doctoral programs will carry Catherine’s vision well into the 21st Century!

GMercyU EdD Information

GMercyU DNP Information

MERV Visits Denver

MERV Visits DenverJust last month, Distinguished Alumna and 2014 Commencement Speaker, Susan B. Kiely, BS ’70, DHL ’14, welcomed MERV to Denver, where MERV met Scott Mengel, Executive Director of the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School. Dr. Sandy Mangano, Dean of the School of Education, visited Denver to learn about the school and Susan’s involvement. Earlier this summer, Dean Mangano had shown Susan many of the state-of-the-art features in University Hall, including the Center for Advancing Technology in Teaching. The Center removes the distance-barrier between Denver and GMercyU so that collaborative efforts can proceed unimpeded.

It’s readily possible to conduct synchronous classes and/or engage in professional development activities with simultaneous vision and voice involvement among all participants, regardless of location. I hope that MERV is invited to visit other alumni and schools across the country, where we can forge partnerships that will enhance the educational opportunities for all students.

Connelly Center for Advancing Technology in TeachingThe Connelly Center for Advancing Technology in Teaching is pictured here. Above is Susan B. Kiely, BS ’70, DHL ’14, and Scott Mengel, Executive Director of the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School.


MERVelous New Alumnus

Kevin Bates '14 receiving his award at Honors Convocation from Gwynedd Mercy University Vice President for Academic Affairs Frank Scully, Jr., PhD.

Kevin Bates ’14 receiving his award at Honors Convocation from Gwynedd Mercy University Vice President for Academic Affairs Frank Scully, Jr., PhD.

Here at Gwynedd Mercy University, our faculty and staff take pride in watching our students flourish both academically and personally. Kevin Bates, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and secondary education on May 10th, has been a phenomenal contributer in campus classrooms and in our residence halls for the past four years.

In addition to being a resident assistant for three years and a math tutor at our Academic Resource Center, Kevin was the only senior student representative in Pennsylvania on the State Board of Education. During his service time, Kevin provided input on behalf of all students in the Commonwealth on topics such as career preparation programs and budgeting. Kevin provided a unique perspective to the Board as his collegiate studies provided him with first-hand experience into the world of education.

Kevin was awarded The Sister Anne Donigan Scientific Corporations Interested In Bringing Up Scientists (SCIBUS) Endowed Award for Outstanding Student in Science and Mathematics at this year’s Honors Convocation. Kevin plans on pursuing a career in secondary education by teaching mathematics in high school. Kevin embodies the true definition of what it means to be a Distinctive Mercy Graduate, and given his experience, we know he’ll make a phenomenal teacher.

Congratulations, Kevin!

*Resolution Honoring Kevin Bates – State Board of Education Student Member 2012-2014


Same but Different

OwensA 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.

MERVelous Student Speaker at Commencement


At Gwynedd Mercy University, we have a tradition of selecting a graduating student to address the graduating class at Commencement.  Through a very competitive process, one student emerges, and this year, I was thrilled to introduce Sarah Huskin, Class of 2014, as our student speaker.

Sarah received the Master of Science degree in School Counseling last Saturday.  For the past 6 years, Sarah has been a Spanish teacher in the Council Rock School District.  Moreover, she is simultaneously completing a Masters of Arts degree in Spanish Linguistics through summer coursework at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Below is a link to Sarah’s address to her classmates:

Sarah Huskin

MERVelous Nurses

(Left to right): Leena Joseph, BSN, RN, Donna Jacoby, RN, CCRN, Nancy Allegrezza, Fred Allegrezza,  Tracey Tillger, RN and Dean of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions, Andrea Hollingsworth.

(Left to right): Leena Joseph, BSN, RN, Donna Jacoby, RN, CCRN, Nancy Allegrezza, Fred Allegrezza, Tracey Tillger, RN and Dean of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions, Andrea Hollingsworth.

Leading up to National Nurses Week, Gwynedd Mercy University awarded four Bucks or Montgomery County nurses with the Nursing Excellence Award for their outstanding contributions to the nursing profession on Thursday, May 1.

This year’s recipients were Elizabeth Abraham, MSN, CRNP; Donna Jacoby, RN, CCRN; Leena Joseph, BSN, RN; and Tracey Tillger, RN.

The award recipients were nominated by their colleagues for extraordinary service to patients, families, and the community. Most importantly, they have a deep commitment to the highest standards of nursing, professional growth in their field, mentoring fellow nurses, and an overall commitment to the profession through the services they provide each day.

I can think of no better place to celebrate the many hardworking, dedicated nurses that serve Bucks and Montgomery counties than at Gwynedd Mercy University. Our rich history of educating competent and compassionate nurses in the Mercy tradition is a hallmark of our University.

Two people who have a true appreciation for the nursing profession are Fred and Nancy Allegrezza. Through their support for the awards ceremony, they focus attention to something that we at Gwynedd Mercy University value so much – outstanding nurses in the community. I would like to thank the Allegrezzas for their loyal and ongoing support and sponsorship for the Nursing Excellence Awards . I would also like to thank the Nursing Excellence Awards Selection Committee and the Nursing Advisory Board.