The prospect of an American college creating a campus in Dungarvan has taken a major step forward.
A press conference was held at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania on Monday, November 14, to announce the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding with Waterford Council officials.
The MOU authorises a shared feasibility study of a Mercyhurst campus in Dungarvan. A 12-month timeframe has been allocated for this process.
Waterford Council CEO Michael Walsh joined the simultaneous signing through electronic conferencing.
“This is the first step towards what will hopefully be the construction of a dedicated campus in Dungarvan,” says Waterford TD John Deasy, a graduate of Mercyhurst, who travelled to Erie earlier this year to meet the university’s new 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 its 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 added.
Since that visit to the States, Mr Victor and the university’s provost, David Dausey, have been to Dungarvan to meet Deputy Deasy, Waterford 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-eighties.
Many students from the Friary and other schools in West Waterford have attended third-level there since and Dungarvan and Erie were formally twinned in 2007. 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.
Dungarvan has also hosted Mercyhurst’s Global Intelligence Forum a number of times, most recently in July 2015.
Mr Deasy and his former St Augustine’s schoolmate John Melody, now a successful businessman in Erie, went there on scholarships in 1986 and have kept in close contact since.
They and others have spent the past number of years working with Mercyhurst to deliver a European headquarters in Dungarvan, catering for up to 350 students each year.