“Merrimack College is a promise made, and a promise fulfilled. Since its founding, Merrimack has kept its promise to add value to the degrees of our alums and to make a difference for all of humanity.” DR. CHRISTOPHER E. HOPEY, PRESIDENT

American higher education has reached a critical period in its long and storied history. A globalized economy is seeking an educated, nimble, compassionate and highly ethical workforce that is comfortable with change and diversity, even as families are increasingly scrutinizing the value of both undergraduate and graduate education. Dr. Christopher E. Hopey, PresidentMerrimack College—founded specifically with workforce education in mind—has stayed ahead of the curve on these critical points even while holding fast to its founding principles. Guided by the 10-year strategic plan, the Agenda for Distinction developed early in President Christopher E. Hopey’s administration, Merrimack has strategically invested in those priorities that have not merely kept the college a leader in higher education but have prepared Merrimack students to take on the world that greets them post-graduation. “Over the years we have transformed this campus physically,” said Hopey during the September groundbreaking of the North Campus Academic Pavilion, which will house cutting-edge classrooms and the Girard School of Business when it opens in fall 2017. However, he said, “What shapes us is not our physical development but our development of men and women … We work to ensure that every single student can be successful.” Merrimack College, the president said, is “a promise made, and a promise fulfilled.” Since its founding, he said, the college has kept its promise to “add value to your degrees and develop values for your lives … and to make a difference for all of humanity.”

In 2011, during President Hopey’s early tenure as president, Merrimack developed its Agenda for Distinction, a 10-year strategic plan for the college, as it foresaw rapid changes in “the demographics, economics and globalization of higher education.”A series of deeply collaborative community conversations resulted in the Agenda, which, Hopey wrote at the time, “is rooted in our Augustinian tradition and embodies our mission to actively engage the passion and emotion of our hearts with the discipline provided by intellect and reason.”
That broad vision was broken into five strategic priorities, each of them with a set of specific tactics and goals to move the college forward:

  • Create a modern academic enterprise grounded in innovative teaching, learning and scholarship
  • Develop a contemporary Catholic mission
  • Create an intellectually vibrant, socially engaged, entrepreneurial student experience
  • Inspire and engage our people, culture and community
  • Strengthen our value proposition and competitive position

All were grounded in what the college calls its five “core values”: leadership, community, awareness, scholarship and service—speaking precisely to what Merrimack College adds to the higher education landscape. Now well into the second phase of the Agenda for Distinction, the college celebrates the progress it has made to date. Just as the Together for Good Campaign builds on the Agenda for Distinction, so too will Merrimack’s future victories be built on the solid and broad foundation of achievements to date. “Merrimack has mountains yet to climb,” Hopey said in September. “We have successes still not even dreamed of.” “And, what is most important: We know full well that we at Merrimack can climb mountains.”

The five pillars that guide the Agenda for Distinction are rooted in the college’s core values to promote leadership, community, awareness, scholarship and service—speaking precisely to what Merrimack College adds to the higher education landscape.

Modern Academic Enterprise

Becoming a more academically respected and intellectually vibrant institution has heightened the college’s appeal to prospective students and future employers, and added value to alumni degrees. This year, the Carnegie Foundation Classification of Institutions of Higher Education recognized the college’s growth by moving Merrimack into the master’s/medium category. U.S. News adopted the change; Merrimack debuted at 57 out of 187 among Best Regional Universities/North, after several consecutive years as a top-10 Regional College/North. Investment in academic resources—both human and capital—has been at the forefront of the college’s growth trajectory. Along with the approximately 50,000-square-foot North Campus Academic Pavilion, which will open in fall 2017, the college has expanded and re-visioned over 350,000 square feet of labs, classrooms and residence halls.

  • Increased the full-time faculty from 143 to 192, with another 20+ planned across all four schools for fall 2017
  • Undergraduate student population increased from 2,013 to 3,260
  • Graduate students increased from 94 to 581
  • Established two new academic innovation centers: The Writers House and Mucci Capital Markets Lab
  • Increased faculty compensation to competitive levels to bolster recruitment and retention
  • Introduced 11 new undergraduate programs and more than 20 new graduate programs and minors

A Contemporary Catholic Mission

Merrimack is an institution that embraces the intellectual traditions, spiritual wisdom and social values of Catholicism and provides an environment where all voices can be heard without loss of our Catholic identity. In 2015, Merrimack, in partnership with St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence, Mass., established Hands to Help / Manos para Ayudar, a neighborhood community resource center. The center offers services such as financial literacy classes, after-school tutoring, college application tutorials and even a basketball night. Overseen by Director of Community Outreach Alisha Reppucci ’12, the center has become a focal point for community service projects by Merrimack students and faculty.

  • Participation in student service trips grew by 80 percent
  • Mack Gives Back and Mass of the
    Holy Spirit became campus traditions
  • Quadrupled the college’s religious and theological studies minor programs
  • Three-quarters of freshmen agreed that ethical and spiritual development is an important part of Merrimack’s mission
  • 37 members of the Merrimack community, including 22 students, traveled to Italy to follow in the footsteps of St. Augustine

Student Experience

Merrimack’s distinctive out-of-classroom learning opportunities give students an added perspective about themselves, their interests and the global community. Within the past year, Merrimack
has created five new affinity housing options that allow students to choose an intentional community guided by shared values, goals and activities. The Honors, STEM, Global Living, Unity and Austin Scholars housing options support lifestyles and activities that uplift the residential experience of each student. In addition to being a living and learning institution, Merrimack’s interdisciplinary blend of academics, cooperative education, internships, study abroad and service learning provides students with an experience that builds knowledge, confidence and valuable leadership skills.

  • Increased the number of students living in College housing by 66 percent
  • 90+ percent of seniors rated their educational experience as good or excellent
  • Built and renovated more than 350,000 square feet of space including the Library’s Crowe Family Commons,
    new residence halls, Merrimack Athletic Complex, health sciences labs, classrooms and offices, Volpe Innovation Center, Fitness Center, Merrimack Club, Compass space, and the Physics Studio
  • Opened new student life spaces including Augie’s Pub and The 47 Lounge
  • First Year Experience enrolled 1,006 students, a 20 percent increase from fall 2014

‘Inspire and Engage’

Expanded study abroad programs and increased athletic participation are only a few examples of how Merrimack’s students become immersed in the process of intellectual inquiry and discovery. Merrimack is inspiring alumni from across the globe to reconnect with the institution that encouraged them to develop their abilities and talents. In fiscal 2015, more than 7,800 alumni and friends attended signature events, a 14 percent increase from fiscal 2014. There is no greater inspiration than the success of the Merrimack community—near or far.

  • Number of students studying abroad increased by 42 percent
  • Launched eight new varsity sports, including six for women with Division 1 hockey
  • Increased student-athlete participation by over 50 percent
  • Increased club sports participation by 81 percent
  • Increased intramural athletic participation by 80 percent
  • Doubled the number of students who participated in service learning
  • Undergraduate international student body grew from 43 to 143; a 300 percent increase

Value Proposition and Competitive Position 

By growing the undergraduate and graduate student body by nearly 72 percent—from 2,013 in 2010 to 3,260 in 2016—we have demonstrated our momentum and financial strength to both internal and external audiences. With 90 percent of seniors rating their academic experience as excellent and retention at record high levels, our students’ commitment to Merrimack has enhanced the institution’s reputation, relative market position and financial stability.

  • Received 8,214 freshmen applications in 2016, a 110 percent increase from 2010
  • Graduate applications increased from 63 to 862
  • Welcomed 513 incoming freshmen
    in 2016
  • Achieved 9-month job or graduate school placement rate of 97 percent, up from 83 percent
  • Provided an additional $34 million
    in scholarships, an increase of over 140 percent
  • Fundraising grew from $5.2 million in fiscal 2012 to $9.1 million fiscal FY 2016