A press conference was held at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania yesterday to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Waterford County Council officials which authorises a feasibility study for a new campus in Dungarvan.
The planned study was signed simultaneously through electronic conferencing.
The initiative is the brainchild of Fine Gael TD John Deasy, a graduate of Mercyhurst, and follows years of twinning initiatives between Mercyhurst and Dungarvan, including the hosting of the college’s Global Intelligence Forum every two years in the Co Waterford town.
“This is the first step towards what will hopefully be the construction of a dedicated campus in Dungarvan,” Mr Deasy said. He travelled to Erie earlier this year to meet the university’s president, Michael Victor.
“The aspiration has always been to make Dungarvan a university town. It’s taken eight years to get to this point and it’s fantastic to see the initial groundwork has been completed.
“When I went to Erie last March I could sense a new impetus had emerged within Mercyhurst and now we are beginning to see the manifestation of that, which I hope will change the face of the town of Dungarvan for the next 10 years,” he said.
Since that visit to the States, Mr Victor and the university’s provost David Dausey have been to Dungarvan to meet Deputy Deasy, council officials and Mercyhurst’s Irish board. The relationship between Dungarvan and Mercyhurst dates back more than three decades, with educational links to St Augustine’s College, Abbeyside starting in the mid-1980s.
Many students from the Friary and other schools in west Waterford have attended third-level there.
For the past six years, students from Erie have come to Dungarvan to study and use it as a base to explore the rest of Ireland and Europe.
The aim is to establish Dungarvan as Mercyhurst’s European headquarters, catering for up to 350 students each year.