GATES CAPER TRIGGERS SUSPENSIONS
EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of the countdown toward our 2026 centennial, we want you to share the anticipation with us. In coming Mercyhurst magazines, we’ll highlight our memories and values, historic moments, and even a few tall tales that define The Mercyhurst Experience. In this issue, we highlight what many believe is the most iconic feature of this beautiful campus—The Gates—complete with a bit of whimsy. If you have suggestions for other “Countdown” features, or any personal remembrances you care to share, please email Deborah Morton at dmorton@mercyhurst.
Of all the symbols reminiscent of Mercyhurst University, few can surpass the iconic front gates. Their towering majesty has inspired everything from admissions materials to commencement photographs—even the occasional prank. But first, their history: In 1906, famed architect Stanford White was murdered by eccentric Pittsburgh millionaire Harry K. Thaw. When Thaw’s estate was subsequently sold and razed in Pittsburgh, Mercyhurst’s Mother Borgia Egan acquired the 20-foot-tall iron gates for $600. They now stand at the college’s main East 38th Street entrance. Designed in the French Renaissance style, the gates have been a permanent fixture of the university’s architecture since they were installed in 1950. Few people miss the feeling of grandeur that those gates elicit when arriving or departing campus. But there was nothing so grand when retired purchasing director and longtime Mercyhurst employee Dave Cherico ’79 chose to use the gates to prank the university back when he was a student. History has it that Dave, then a Mercyhurst sophomore, and a buddy were out late one night and found a heavy-duty chain and lock near the campus maintenance department. After a few cold ones, they had the brilliant idea of pulling the massive front gates closed and locking them. To add insult to injury, they even erected a sign that read: COLLEGE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE! Mercyhurst’s administrators did not see the humor.
Instead, Dave and his buddy were each assigned to write an eight-page term paper about why they wanted to attend college.
Fearing expulsion, Dave’s buddy titled his paper: Why I do not want to be EXPLODED from college.
With that, the gavel came crashing down and both were suspended for the remainder of the term. When they returned to campus, they were assigned to work with maintenance on a special project: dig two holes, one on either side of the front gates, and insert concrete posts so the gates could never be closed again.
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