The Religious Sisters of Mercy were of the order of Mercy founded in Dublin in 1831. The Sisters vowed to be of service to the impoverished, sick and uneducated. The Sisters of Mercy came to the Wyoming Valley area of Pennsylvania in 1875, continuing their mission of praying, teaching and caring for the sick. The sisters quickly established a school for children and soon after, a night school for adults in the established coal mining region. Having secured a strong foundation of Catholic education, the order recognized that a great need was still waiting to be met.
On August 15, 1924, the Sisters of Mercy established Luzerne County’s first four-year institution of higher learning, College Misericordia, on nearly 100 acres of land in Dallas, Pennsylvania, purchased by the Sisters for this purpose in 1914. More than 2,500 people witnessed the dedication of College Misericordia (whose name means “heart of mercy”). That September, 37 students began their studies sharing the sisters’ motto: Mulier Fortis, valiant women trained in scholarship and spirituality. Misericordia was founded as, and continues to be as a university, a broad-based liberal arts and pre-professional studies institution offering superior education to those of all faiths. The university has been co-educational since the 1970s and offers graduate programs as well.
Today, Misericordia University is still located on the original grounds, but has expanded to 120 acres, situated in a suburban setting just eight miles from downtown Wilkes-Barre. Total enrollment is currently more than 2,300 students, including full and part-time undergraduates and graduate students. Classroom size is purposefully small to ensure personalized attention. The student-to-faculty ratio continues to be approximately 11 to one, allowing the instructors and students to better relate in the classroom setting with more individualized attention. And although the classes may be small, MU still gives students the collegiate experience in a big way. There are more than two dozen social clubs and organizations available on campus. Misericordia realizes that athletics are an important part of college life. The school has had an athletics program since 1932, when it introduced intramural sports. Students can choose from 20 women’s and men’s varsity sports, including lacrosse and track and field. And as a Division III school, the Misericordia University Cougars compete in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and will join the Middle Atlantic Corporation's Freedom Conference in 2008.
The university provides a progressive student-focused environment fostered by its 93 full-time faculty. This group of distinguished professors is dedicated to providing excellence in education. In fact, more than 80 percent of the school’s faculty hold a Ph.D. or other terminal degree. Today, students can choose from 30 majors in three Academic Colleges: Arts and Sciences; Health Sciences; and Professional Studies and Social Sciences. It is paramount that students “learn by doing” and more than 90 percent of Misericordia students participate in an internship, student teaching or clinical study. Also, most of the instructors have professional experience in their field, bringing their real-life knowledge into the classrooms. MU follows the values instilled by the Sisters to provide high-quality, value-based education to whomever needs access to it. Therefore, today more than 98 percent of the students receive some form of merit and need-based financial aid.
Misericordia University is committed to providing the best scholarly and educational environment possible to its students while they are enrolled, as well as preparing them for life after graduation. Graduates not only receive a diploma, but can participate in the school’s GPP-Guaranteed Placement Program- assurance as well. The GPP is a promise that, within six months of graduation, students will have a position in the career of their choice or be enrolled in graduate school, or the college will provide a paid internship in the student’s field of study. Also, Misericordia’s on-time graduation rate is higher than that of many similar institutions. Since 1924, much has changed in the world, but Misericordia University continues to honor the heart-felt mission of the Sisters of Mercy.
In recent national surveys of both traditional and adult students, Misericordia students gave the college top marks in nearly every area of student satisfaction and effective learning environments. The liberal arts school has carried on the legacy and is committed to offering quality education, professional preparation and service leadership to each student who walks through its doors.