History & Heritage
GMercyU Stands Out Among Catholic Universities in Pennsylvania
Founded by the Sisters of Mercy of Merion in 1948, Gwynedd Mercy University has a long history of helping students make a difference—in their lives and in the lives of others. GMercyU is shaped by our Catholic identity as well as our Mercy heritage and charism, with programs designed to prepare students to lead productive lives of deep meaning and value.
Through a commitment to an education rich in the liberal arts, Gwynedd Mercy University students are encouraged to explore multiple perspectives as they deepen their base of knowledge, develop their critical thinking and communication skills, and prepare to take their place in the world. On the road to becoming Distinctive Mercy Graduates, we offer a warm, welcoming, and inclusive community in which each student can learn and grow.
Gwynedd Mercy University is one of the 17 Catholic colleges and universities that comprise the Conference for Mercy Higher Education. Our heritage is based on the traditions of the Sisters of Mercy, the Catholic order founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland in 1831. Her mission was to serve people who were suffering injustices due to poverty, sickness, and a lack of education, especially women and children. Learn more about Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy here.
Today, Gwynedd Mercy University carries on this spirit by infusing the Mercy charism into our teaching and learning community. Mercy underpins our commitment to academic excellence and lifelong learning; our respect for the dignity of every human person; and our mission to educate the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. Through action and education, we aim to develop students who are professionally and personally prepared to promote compassion and justice toward those with less as they make a difference in their careers and communities.
Gwynedd Mercy University History
- 1948: GMercyU, originally named Gwynedd-Mercy College, is founded in Gwynedd Valley, Pa, by the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Merion as a junior college.
- 1958: Gwynedd-Mercy College earns its first Middle States accreditation.
- May 23, 1963: The school is re-chartered as a four-year institution, offering associate and bachelor’s degrees.
- 1973: Men are first admitted to the college.
- 1982: The school offers its first graduate program in nursing.
- 1990: A new sports complex, The Griffin Complex, opens on campus.
- 1996: Athletics moves from the NAIA to NCAA Division III. GMercyU now offers 17 NCAA Division III men’s and women’s athletic programs.
- 2009: A new outdoor athletic complex is completed.
- 2012: The schools of nursing and allied health professions consolidate to become the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions.
- 2012: The Gustav Martin Building is demolished and the groundbreaking ceremony is held for a new academic building on campus.
- 2013: In September, Gwynedd-Mercy College receives university status and is renamed Gwynedd Mercy University.
- 2013: GMercyU is approved to offer its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and quickly follows that with the addition of a Doctorate in Educational Leadership (EdD) in 2014.
- 2014: A new, state-of-the-art academic building, University Hall, is dedicated and the library building is reconfigured to include a vibrant new Learning Commons.
- 2015: The home of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions is formally named Frances M. Maguire Hall.
- 2016: GMercyU's longest-tenured and first lay president, Kathleen Owens, PhD, announces retirement from the University.
- 2017: GMercyU welcomes Deanne H. D'Emilio, JD, as the new President of the University.
- 2018: GMercyU announces the purchase of its new East Campus, a 154-acre property adjacent to its Gwynedd Valley campus.
- 2019: The University holds the largest Commencement in its history, awarding degrees to more than 880 graduates.
- 2020: GMercyU donates ventilators, PPE, and other medical supplies to area hospitals at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 2022: GMercyU announces the sale of East Campus to Beacon Capital Partners, LLC, who will use the property to support advancements in life sciences fields.
See a more detailed timeline of GMercyU's 75 years.
GMercyU Land Acknowledgement
We recognize and acknowledge that Gwynedd Mercy University stands on the Indigenous territory known as “Lenapehoking,” the traditional homelands of the Lenape, also called Lenni-Lenape or Delaware Indians. These are the people who, during the 1680s, negotiated with William Penn to facilitate the founding of the colony of Pennsylvania. Their descendants today include the Delaware Tribe and Delaware Nation of Oklahoma; the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, Ramapough Lenape, and Powhatan Renape of New Jersey; and the Munsee Delaware of Ontario.*
Consistent with the University's commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, we will continue to develop our understanding of the historical and current experiences of all Native peoples.
GMercyU Graduates: Leaders With Values
Among Catholic colleges and universities, GMercyU has a strength in preparing students who are professionally competent, have a firm foundation in the liberal arts, and are committed to the Mercy tradition of service to humanity. Distinctive Mercy Graduates are more than just leaders in their fields. They are leaders with values — professionals who know what they stand for and who will live by their personal principles every day.
Contact us for more information about how the Mercy tradition shapes the GMercyU educational experience.