Celebrating 75 Years

A look back at the remarkable accomplishments of the University, where Mercy has always made the difference


The commemorative issue of TODAY Magazine, celebrating GMercyU's 75th anniversary, is out now! Read it here

President Deanne H. D'Emilio, JDMessage from the President

On October 1, 1948, Gwynedd Mercy University was officially launched by a group of adventurous and tenacious Sisters of Mercy.

They really didn’t have any experience with creating or running a college, but that didn’t stop them. They saw a need to provide a place where women, in particular, could earn a college degree and be grounded in Mercy values to use their knowledge and education to better themselves as well as others in the greater community, much like Catherine McAuley did when she opened the House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1827.

I am happy to report that this Mission has not changed in 75 years... read more

Gwynedd Mercy University Timeline

1940s 1950s 1960s  |  1970s  |  1980s  |  1990s  |  2000s  |  2010s  |  2020s

Click on each milestone below to read more.



Land Purchased

copy-of-the-deed-of-sale-of-treweryn.jpgMother Mary Bernard, founder and First President of GMercyU, searches available properties in the area and by late 1946 decides that “the Gwynedd Valley estate was extremely desirable for our purposes.”

The Sisters of Mercy purchase 84.5 acres of property from the Taylor family for $100,000 on May 7, 1947.

Mother wrote: “Treweryn, Gwynedd Valley is ours! Thanks be to God! May it exist and be developed from now on only for His Glory!”

At the estate, Mother promptly converts the manor house into a convent and offices, and the barn into classrooms. The Academy moved to Gwynedd Valley in 1947. 


GMercyU Is Founded

junior-college-sign.jpgGMercyU, originally named Gwynedd-Mercy College, is founded in Gwynedd Valley, Pa, by the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Merion as a junior college.

The initial class numbered 28 and there were seven faculty/administration members: Mother Mary Bernard Graham (President), Sister Mary Gregory Campbell (Academic Dean), Sister Mary John Aloyse (Registrar), Sister Mary Virginia (Treasurer), Sister Mary Cecilia, Sister Mary Catherine Laboure, and Rev. Garrett F. X. Murphy.

Opening Ceremony Held

opening-ceremony.jpgOn Sunday, October 31, 1948, his Eminence, Cardinal Dennis Doughtery gave Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament at the newly opened Gwynedd-Mercy Junior College. 

This ceremony was known as the "28 Roses Ceremony and Reception," with each rose representing a member of the entering class.

In the early years, five courses of study were offered:

  • secretarial
  • medical-secretarial
  • pre-laboratory technician
  • merchandising
  • liberal arts

First Carol Night


GMercyU held its first Carol Nights celebration. The tradition continues today with the Voices of Gwynedd hosting three concerts to kickoff the holiday season. The concerts are followed by a live navity scene.


First Formal Dance

lilac-ball.jpgThe first formal dance sponsored by Gwynedd-Mercy Junior College, the Lilac Ball, was held at the Barclay Hotel on June 3, 1949.

Students and their dates danced the night away to the Leo Zollo Orchestra.

First Lawn Fete

lawn-fete.jpgIn 1949, the First Lawn Fete was organized to celebrate the end of the first year of Gwynedd-Mercy Junior College.

Students entertained families and friends with booths set up to sell various items, including children's clothing and handcrafted goods. Other booths contained a tombola, fish pond, and other games of chance. A giant croquet set was made available, and pony rides were offered.

Such fun events continue today in the form of Fall Fest.

Science Laboratory Built

sciencelab.jpgAn addition to the old laundry (formerly the Gustav Martin Building) transforms into a science laboratory. 

Newspaper Started

second-annual-carol-night.jpgThe first issue of The Gwynmercian is published (ceased in 2016). 

You can read all editions here.



First Musicale

first-musicale.jpgThe Glee Club holds its first musicale. 

Today, the Voices of Gwynedd continues this tradition with its annual Spring Musicale.

First Senior Ball

senior-ball.jpgA Senior Ball was held on February 3, 1950 at the Barclay Hotel. Chuck Gordon and his orchestra provided the entertainment.

First Commencement

Tfirst-commencement.jpghe first Commencement ceremony is held on May 31, 1950 with 21 graduates. 

First Harvest Dance

harvest-dance.jpgStudents enjoy the first annual Harvest Dance. Here is an excerpt from the Gwynedition.


Admissions House Building Is Purchased

admissions-house.jpgThe home of Elizabeth Ely (nee Taylor) was purchased in 1951 and named Our Lady of Mercy Convent.

It was named Annuciation Hall but today houses the GMercyU Admissions Department. The adjacent barn was converted in 1981 to house the Allied Health Department. 


Day Camp Opens

day-camp.jpgThe Treweryn-Mercy Day Camp, opens for its first summer.

It was later renamed Gwynedd Mercy College Day Camp in 1976. 


Marylyn Residence Hall Opens

students-study-in-maryllyn-ca-1955.jpgMarylyn Estate (an off-campus building) is purchased by the Sisters of Mercy and opened as a student residence. 

Photo: 1955

First Masque

first-masque.jpgFirst masque, “St. Joan of Arc” is written and produced by Sister M. Emmanuel S.M. 

Yearbook Launched

yearbook-1953.jpgThe Coelian yearbook is published (final edition in 2009) 

You can view all editions here. 


First Senior Week

senior-week.jpgFirst Senior Week features a dinner, hayride, and dance.

Final Approval Granted

Final approval is granted to the College by the Pennsylvania State Council of Education. 


First Holiday Bazaar

holiday-bazaar.jpgGwynedd-Mercy Junior College holds its first Holiday Bazaar.

Today, GMercyU hosts a bazaar at its annual Christmas Tree Lighting event. 


Outdoor Pool Opens

outdoor-pool.jpgAn outdoor pool opened in 1957 for use by Gwynedd-Mercy Academy, the summer camp, and the junior college.

The summer camp, which was open for more than 50 years, offered a healthy environment for many inner-city children.


Middle States Accreditation

Gwynedd-Mercy College earns its first Middle States accreditation.



Second President Named

mary-gregory-campbell.jpgSr. Mary Gregory Campbell, RSM, PhD is named the College’s second president.  

Library Opens

lourdes-library.jpgLourdes Library (now Keiss Library) opens. 

Photo: "Parade" of books, 1959

ASN Degree Launches

first-asn-class-1961.jpgAn Associate in Nursing degree is introduced, the first of its kind in a Catholic junior college in the U.S. 

Photo: First ASN Graduating Class, 1961




Mercy Honor Society

Gwynedd-Mercy Junior College is included in the Mercy Honor Society, Sigma Phi Sigma. 

This society is dedicated to the ideals of Catherine McCauley: fidelity, scholarship, and service. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors with a minimum 3.2 grade point average, evidence of upholding the mission and values of the University, a clear commitment of service to the University and their community may apply.


GMJC Becomes GMC

gmc-sign.jpgGwynedd-Mercy Junior College receives approval to award baccalaureate degrees and is re-chartered as a four-year institution, becoming Gwynedd-Mercy College.

Stained Glass Commissioned

Local artist Charles Madden is commissioned to create the beautiful stained glass window in Campbell Hall chapel. 


McAuley Center Opens

The McAuley Academic Center is completed and dedicated.  


Loyola Hall Opens

loyola-hall-1965.jpgGwynedd Mercy University's first official residence hall, Loyola Hall, opens.

Today, it houses first-year students.


"Officially" Co-Ed

While the College was never officially an all-girls school, Sister Mary Gregory announces plans to formally become co-ed in the Fall. 


First Baccalaureate Degrees

The College initiates two four-year programs in Nursing and Business. Today, GMercyU offers more than 40 baccalaureate degrees. 

The Gwynedd Journal

The "Gwynedd Journal" publishes faculty and student non-fiction writing. It ran until 1976. 


First Layman Hired

The first layman, Dr. Benedict Paparella, becomes Vice President for Academic Affairs. 



Third President Installed

s-keiss-inauguration.jpgThe College’s third president, Sister Isabelle Keiss, RSM, PhD is inaugurated. She served from 1971 until 1993.

Sister completed the book Tender Courage, a biography of the Sisters of Mercy Irish Foundress, Catherine McAuley, while on a sabbatical in 1986. 


Hobbit House Opens

hobbit-house.jpgA preschool, the Hobbit House, opens on campus. 


CIS Degree Established

Gwynedd-Mercy College and the Maxwell Institute, Inc. establish the Maxwell School of Computer Science, offering an associate degree in computer science. 

Today, GMercyU's Computer Information Science program offers three concentrations: 

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Cybersecurity & Computer Forensics
  • Web Design & Multimedia

First Male Graduate

first-male-student.jpgThe first male student, Tom Bodziak, graduates.


Connelly Center Opens

connelly-faculty-center.jpgThe Josephine C. Connelly Faculty Center (informally called Connelly Faculty Center), is completed and opens.

Today, it houses faculty and staff offices and a new, tiered classroom. 

TODAY Magazine Established

first-today-magazine.jpgPublication of the TODAY alumni magazine begins.

You can read all issues here.



First Graduate Program

Gwynedd-Mercy College offers its first graduate program – a degree in nursing.  Today, the University offers more than 35 graduate program options.


Lourdes Library Addition

library-addition.jpgThe Lourdes Library addition is completed and dedicated. 


Groundbreaking for Athletic Center


On October 23, the College breaks ground on a new athletic and conference center. 


James Bond Dies

james-bond.jpgJames Bond, who lived with his family in Assumption Hall in the early 1900s, dies.

Bond was the inspiration for the name of the infamous Ian Fleming spy character. Read more about it here.

Photo: Sister Isabelle Keiss with Mr. and Mrs. James Bond during a visit to campus, 1988



Athletic Complex Opens

griffin-complex-opens.jpgThe new athletic complex, The Griffin Complex, opens.

Today, it houses GMercyU's basketball and volleyball teams as well as various campus traditions, such as Griffin Madness and Honors Convocation. 


Fastest-Growing College

Gwynedd-Mercy College is reported to be the fastest-growing local small college. 

In 2023, GMercyU achieved its highest-ever ranking on the U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best College Rankings. GMercyU’s position as a national university jumped 71 places, the largest increase of any school in the region and the sixth largest increase nationally.


Bell Tower

bell-tower.jpgThe Bell Tower is constructed. 

Since then, it has served as a gathering place for the campus community.

Black Student Union

black-student-union.jpgThe Black Student Union is formed. 

The purpose of the Black Student Union is to educate students about African American history, culture, and heritage. 


The Gwynedition

gwynedition.jpgThe Gwynedition, a bi-weekly newsletter for faculty and staff begins publication. 

It started in November 1993 as an effort by president Sister Linda Bevilacqua to communicate events and news to those working and teaching at GMercyU.  

It became an online publication in 2006 and ceased publication in 2013.

MBA Offered

The Business Division co-offers an MBA with Allentown College. 

Today, the University offers a MBA in Strategic Management and Leadership and MBA in Healthcare Administration, as well as post-graduate MBA certificates. 

Weekend Nursing Program

A weekend nursing program is initiated. 

Today, the University offers three options for students to pursue their BSN: traditional four-year program, Accelerated BSN program, and a Weekend BSN program. 


Honors Program Begins

basic_honorsprogram_mobile.pngThe Honors Program in Liberal Studies is introduced. The Honors Program is dedicated to providing an academically rigorous and challenging curriculum, steeped in the liberal arts and sciences, to its brightest and most industrious students.

The Honors Program is committed to preserving an academic culture that inspires a genuine eros for learning. 

Fourth President Installed

sister-linda.jpgThe College’s fourth president, Sr. Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD, is inaugurated.

She served as president of Gwynedd-Mercy College from 1993 to 2002. 


Glee Club to VOG

The Glecarol-night-vog.jpge Club is renamed the “Voices of Gwynedd.”

Learn more about the Voices of Gwynedd here. 


Graduate Education Program

GMercyU's first graduate in education program, Master of Science Degree in Educational Administration, is approved. 

Today, GMercyU offers master's, doctorate, and graduate certificates in Education


Move to DIII

gmc_athletics_logo.pngAthletics moves from the NAIA to NCAA Division III.

Today, GMercyU offers 17 NCAA Division III men’s and women’s athletic programs. 


New Schools Introduced

Gwynedd-Mercy College reorganizes into five new schools:

  • School of Allied Health
  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Business and Computer Information Sciences
  • School of Education
  • School of Nursing

ARC Debuts

imagecallout_studentsuccesscenter_compressed.jpegThe Academic Resource Center, now called The Student Success Center, opens


50th Anniversary

50th-anniversary.jpgGwynedd-Mercy College celebrates its 50th anniversary. 


The Griffin Launches

the-griffin-journal.jpgThe University’s literary journal begins publication. Previously called The Seed, it’s now called The Griffin. 

You can read all issues here.

Baseball and Softball Debut

softball-1999.jpgGMercyU's baseball and softball teams debut.

Since then, the baseball team has won five conference championships.

Keiss Hall Opens

keiss-hall-plans.jpgThe Sister Isabelle Keiss Center for Health and Science opens.

Today, it's called Maguire Hall and houses nursing, health professions, and science classes. 



Fifth President Inaugurated

kathy-owens.jpgThe college’s fifth president, Kathleen Cieplak Owens, PhD, is inaugurated. She is its first lay president and served until 2017. 

Under her leadership, Gwynedd-Mercy College transitioned to University status. Dr. Owens led the development of new academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including doctoral programs in Nursing and Education; online degree programs; and international programs. 

After completing a Campus Master Plan and Transportation Improvement Plan, several new and renovated facilities were added including a new residence hall, new academic building, new labs and technologically-enhanced classrooms, renovated Admissions House, one-stop shop for administrative services and another for academic services, as well as a new outdoor athletics complex. 


Intramurals Begin

flag-football-2016.jpgGwynedd-Mercy College introduces intramural sports. Today, the Intramural program offers the following sports and activities:
  • Basketball
  • Dodgeball
  • Flag Football
  • Kickball
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Volleyball
  • Wiffle Ball

Mascot Debuts

merv-debuts.jpgThe first official school mascot, M.E.R.V. the Griffin is named and debuts. 


Alexandria Hall Opens

alexandria-hall.jpgA new residence hall, Alexandria Hall, opens in January. 


Turf Field Opens

turf-field.jpgA new outdoor athletic complex is completed. 

It houses GMercyU's lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, track and field, and cross country teams.

Nursing School Renamed

_2jr0115.jpgThe School of Nursing is renamed to the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing. 



Nursing & Allied Health Consolidate

The Schools of Nursing and Allied Health professions consolidate, becoming the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions. 

Construction Begins on University Hall


The Gustav Martin Building is demolished to make room for a new academic building. The groundbreaking ceremony is held for the new academic building, later to be named University Hall. 


First Doctoral Program

GMercyU is approved to offer its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). 

University Status Achieved

university-status.pngIn September, the college receives university status and is renamed Gwynedd Mercy University. 

Learning Commons

learning-commons.jpegKeiss Library is reconfigured to include the new Learning Commons. 


University Hall Opens

university-hall.jpgUniversity Hall, which houses the School of Business and Education, opens.

EdD Launches

GMercyU launches its groundbreaking Doctorate in Educational Leadership (EdD), which is now a leader in EdD programs with a graduation rate of 76% vs. 11% national average in three to four years. 


Maguire Hall Renamed

maguire-hall.jpgThe home of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions is formally named Frances M. Maguire Hall. 


Sixth President Named

welcomes Deanne H. D'Emilio, JD, as the sixth president of the University.


East Campus

GMercyU announces the purchase of its new East Campus, a 154-acre property adjacent to its main campus. 


Historical Commencement

2019-commenement.jpgThe University holds the largest Commencement in its history, awarding degrees to more than 880 graduates. 



Response to Pandemic

covid19-donation.jpgGMercyU donates medical supplies to area hospitals at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

DEI Office Opens


School Consolidation

The University consolidates the programs within the School of Graduate and Professional Studies into its three other schools. The University now features three schools: The School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business and Education, and the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions 

Student Services Renamed

A division of student services is renamed as The Office for Student Engagement, featuring dozens of clubs, leadership activities, and more. 


East Campus Sold

GMercyU sells East Campus to a company that supports advancements in life sciences fields. 

Transformational Gift

GMercyU announces a transformational $10 million gift from the Maguire Foundation to build the Frances M. Maguire Healthcare Innovation Center. 


Loyola Hall Renos

loyola_900x500.jpgLoyola Hall undergoes extensive renovations. 

Reopened in August 2023, every room now features new air conditioning units, micro-fridges, and new furniture and floors, while the much-loved and spacious wardrobes were preserved.

Upgrades also included all new lighting fixtures in rooms and common areas, new interior paint, improved lounge areas, and super-fast Wifi throughout the building. Renos to the exterior will begin this fall. 

HIC Groundbreaking

HIC ground breakingThe University breaks ground on the future Frances M. Maguire Healthcare Innovation Center. This future state-of-the-art hub of healthcare innovation will address the healthcare needs of today and tomorrow, with the goal of improving access and equity for all.

Here, technological advancements will converge with a compassionate healthcare mindset, and healthcare majors will collaborate with Social Work, Psychology, Computer Information Science and students in many other majors as they learn to advocate for the "whole" patient.