Doubts have been cast over a proposal by an American university to site a European campus on an Office of Public Works site in west Waterford, with any likely development now expected to be downscaled.
Two years ago, Mercyhurst University, in Erie, Pennsylvania, signed a memorandum of understanding with Waterford Council officials, authorising them to conduct a feasibility study for the venture.
The university sought to establish the campus on a 2.9-acre site at Shandon, Dungarvan.
The move to create a fully-fledged campus was mooted by Fine Gael TD for Waterford, John Deasy, who graduated from Mercyhurst.
The politician acknowledged “the aspiration has always been to make Dungarvan a university town”.
Mercyhurst’s connection with Dungarvan dates to its foundation by the Sisters of Mercy, in 1926. It began an enhanced relationship with Dungarvan, through a recruitment project involving St Augustine’s College, Abbeyside, Dungarvan, in the 1980s.
In 2010, Mercyhurst began hosting its biennial global intelligence forum in Dungarvan, and, in 2012, established the Mercyhurst College Ireland programme there.
Since 2012, Mercyhurst students have spent full semesters in Dungarvan, studying at WIT and in Dungarvan. Meanwhile, third-level west Waterford students have travelled to Erie.
With little apparent progress since the memorandum of understanding, questions have arisen locally, regarding the project’s future.
Waterford Council CEO Michael Walsh did not elaborate on the plan’s current status, but said that the council was in continuing communication with Mercyhurst, with a view to “the expansion of their programmes and presence in Dungarvan”.