Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2020

First male graduates with Sister Carolyn Herrmann

Why? Mercyhurst went coed in its forty-third year

Condensed from Account 1969: A Year in Review

Mercyhurst began the active recruitment of male students following the Board of Trustees’ decision on February 3, 1969, to change the status of the then 43-year-old women’s college to a coeducational institution. The board’s decision culminated a four-month study by college officials on the advisability of the status change. During that time, college constituents were polled and coeducational approval was received from the Mercyhurst faculty, administration, and advisory board. The student body was evenly divided on the coeducational issue. The decision-making criteria were detailed under three main headings. Academic: The trustee consensus was that a coeducational status for Mercyhurst would bring the college closer to the ideal of a liberal arts institution for which it was founded. Social: The board members referred to national studies that listed monosexual education as imposing unnecessary limitations on a student’s educational experience. In addition, the trustees felt that as a coeducational institution, Mercyhurst College would provide a more realistic reflection of the society for which its students prepare. While academic need and social involvement were termed “vital considerations” by the board, the economic standing of Mercyhurst College was perhaps the crux of the status change. Economic: The legal body made an initial study of nation-wide college enrollment statistics and noted a prevailing increase in the rate of student dropouts at women’s institutions throughout the country in favor of coed learning. According to figures available from the Office of the Registrar, Mercyhurst began to experience the enrollment decline in 1968. The 1968 decrease in registrations — and subsequently, tuition

receipts — was to mark the beginning of financial problems at Mercyhurst. For the first time in its history, the college was faced with a $35,753 operating deficit at the close of its 1968-69 fiscal year. Confronted with these facts and figures, board members were presented two options: (1) lower admission standards to meet enrollment projections and financial costs; or (2) retain the present admission requirements and attempt to meet enrollment projections by offering collegians a more attractive educational environment ... one that would hopefully serve to balance the economic scale.

Trustees chose the latter course on February 3 when the coeducational vote was called.

While the board of trustees recognized that some alumni and friends of the college would not agree that a change in status was necessary for Mercyhurst, these men and women — after careful examination and evaluation of the study findings — were convinced that the coeducational status would best benefit the academic and economic stability ... as well as future growth ... of Mercyhurst College.

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