About The College
Merrimack College is a selective, independent college in the Catholic, Augustinian tradition whose mission is to enlighten minds, engage hearts and empower lives.
The College offers more than 100 academic programs in science, engineering, business, nursing, health sciences, education, social sciences and humanities that include self-designed majors, opportunities to major, minor and double major across disciplines, and accelerated master’s degrees.
Its over 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students come from 47 states and 49 countries to form an engaged community of thinkers, learners and achievers integrated in an academic culture of excellence, diversity and stature. Students are encouraged to openly engage, debate, and exchange ideas, both with faculty and each other; and are given a myriad of opportunities to develop intellectually, spiritually, socially and ethically.
The College successfully transformed from an institution of promise to one of achievement by fulfilling the strategic goals outlined in its 10-year strategic plan, the Agenda for Distinction. During the strategic plan, the Merrimack community collectively altered the trajectory of the College by realizing specific strategic goals that included:
- Creating a modern academic enterprise, by investing in major academic facilities such Crowe Hall, the home of the Girard School of Business, physics and engineering maker spaces, a Communication and Media hands-on teaching and learning facility, and others; creating a School of Nursing and Health Sciences to showcase our growing expertise in these fields; expanding our full-time faculty; creating accelerated master’s programs; and creating academic affinity groups such as the Honors Program, the City of God/Austin Scholars, Compass, and Promise.
- Enhancing the student experience with a Merrimack Stadium, the North Campus residence halls and Honors lounge, expanded corporate partnerships, the O’Brien Center for Career Development, enhanced co-op and internship programs, new dining facilities across campus, and new undergraduate and graduate lounge spaces.
- Developing a Contemporary Catholic Mission through renewed traditions such as Mack Gives Back, the Stevens Service Learning Center and Hands to Help, with students contributing more than 30,000 hours of community service each year.
- Engaging our community by investing in the College’s faculty and staff, enhancing the student experience and through greater focus on our growing alumni community, including more and larger alumni events such as Homecoming, Reunions and the Christmas Party, the Together for Good capital campaign, and the unwavering support of our donors.
- Achieving distinction through our growth and expansion, attested by impressive rankings from Princeton Review, US News & World Report, Forbes as well as news media recognition; an unprecedented number of applications resulting in historic incoming classes for several years; and a growing roster of distinguished faculty members.
The Agenda for the Future
The College has been transformed over the past decade, with unprecedented success, and the Agenda for the Future (“AFF”): Merrimack College’s Strategic Plan 2021-2026 represents a community effort to further that success and seeks to expand the College’s mission, propel its vision, expand its aspirations and meet its ambitious goals for play a larger role in a changing world. The AFF provides a road map for the next chapter in Merrimack College’s history. The plan embraces our Augustinian Catholic mission while recognizing the challenges the College faces. It is bold, ambitious and aspirational and is designed to be successful, inclusive and transformative. The AFF will leverage the College’s recent strategic success and is focused on nine strategic initiatives that will further enhance our enrollment, reputation and financial health through and beyond the year 2026. It is designed to align the College’s rising reputation and enrollment success with a desire for affordability, accessibility and opportunity in higher education. The AFF is framed by three overarching strategic directions: Growth, Mission and Impact. For more information see: https://www.merrimack.edu/agenda-for-the-future/.
Merrimack College was founded in 1947 by the Order of St. Augustine (O.S.A.) The Augustinians, at the invitation of Richard Cushing, then archbishop of Boston, established the College in direct response to the needs and aspirations of Merrimack Valley veterans of World War II.
The Rev. Vincent A. McQuade, O.S.A., founder and first president of Merrimack, was responsible for securing a charter from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that allowed Merrimack College to open its doors and award Bachelor of Arts degrees and eventually Bachelor of Science degrees. Due to the efforts of Father McQuade and his successors, the College has grown from a single building campus to its approx. 220-acre campus, has graduated nearly 25,000 students, and has expanded its academic offerings across five schools, including the the Girard School of Business, the Winston School of Education and Social Policy, the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Computational Sciences, and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Our mission is to enlighten minds, engage hearts, and empower lives.
Inspired by the Catholic faith and the Augustinian tradition of seeking truth through inquiry and dialogue, our vision is to:
- Prepare students to adapt creatively to tomorrow’s realities through excellence in the liberal arts, sciences, and the professions;
- Build a community of scholars welcoming and respecting a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, and perspectives;
- Cultivate the intellectual, moral, spiritual, physical, and personal awareness needed to make wise choices for life, career, and service;
- Encourage and support scholarly work that contributes to the wisdom on which society bases its decisions;
- Engage other educational institutions, industry, and agencies of social change in collaborative efforts fostering a just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
Merrimack College: Catholic and Augustinian
Foundation of Merrimack College
Merrimack College was founded at the urging of Archbishop Richard Cushing of Boston to respond to the expanded educational needs of the community in the northern part of the Archdiocese of Boston following World War II. The establishment and development of the College was entrusted by Archbishop Cushing to the Augustinian Friars of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova, who had long been active in Lawrence and Andover, Mass.
Hallmarks of Catholic Higher Education
As a Catholic institution of higher education, Merrimack College is part of a centuries-old tradition of learning distinguished by its free search for the whole truth about nature, humanity, and God. Catholic higher education is dedicated to a search for knowledge that is illuminated by faith so that, in turn, the discovery of knowledge will clarify and deepen faith.
Consequently, an institution of higher learning in the Catholic tradition is a place for a dynamic dialogue between knowledge that we receive through revelation and knowledge discovered by scientific inquiry.
While respecting the freedom of each academic discipline to pursue knowledge according to their own methods, the Catholic tradition consistently brings the following principles into the dialogic search for truth:
- A profound respect for life and the dignity of all human persons as the image and likeness of God;
- An awareness of the sacredness of all of creation;
- An understanding that human freedom in its fullness is the capacity to make choices for the sake of love;
- An understanding that the ultimate end of all human striving, including intellectual inquiry and discovery, is a sense of awe and the desire to worship transcendent mystery;
- A belief in the primacy of the common good;
- An awareness that the establishment of justice begins and ends with the well-being of the weakest and most vulnerable of society.
Augustine, the Augustinians, and the Augustinian Tradition
The life and work of St. Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 CE) is the primary inspiration for the mission of Merrimack College.
In his youth, Augustine found the Christian faith of his mother, Monica, to be childish and unworthy of his superior intelligence. Through a series of unsatisfying but transformative experiences, Augustine discovered that his own happiness could be found only in allowing himself to be embraced by the love and grace of God.
Augustine then abandoned his personal ambitions for social prominence and sought instead a life of philosophical asceticism in which he could engage in the quest for truth in community and conversation with others equally committed to this quest. However, his hopes for a life of intellectual contemplation were ended when he was called to be ordained a priest and then a bishop of the church in Hippo.
In addition to a demanding pastoral life, Augustine engaged in prodigious intellectual activity involving debates over theological controversies, writing to answer specific questions of believers, preaching, and several works of theology. His writings form a significant portion of the foundations of Western Christianity. However, Augustine is most famous for his autobiographical work, The Confessions, in which he shares the story of his restlessness and his intellectual, moral, and spiritual conversion.
The Order of St. Augustine, or Augustinians, is a religious community founded during the 13th century to respond to the changing pastoral needs of Europe as cities and commerce emerged out of the agrarian society of the middle ages. Formed from individual groups of hermits following the Rule of Life written by St. Augustine for convents and monasteries, the Augustinians, along with the Franciscans, Dominicans and Carmelites, were called to respond to the changing needs of European society as it emerged from the dark ages and moved toward the Renaissance. Members of these orders were instrumental in the formation of the great universities of Europe.
One Augustinian friar, Giles of Rome, a student and later a professor at University of Paris, articulated the distinctiveness of the Augustinian intellectual tradition that learning is neither ultimately speculative nor practical, but affective, and therefore directed by and toward love. Following Augustine, Giles understood that wisdom is knowledge or intellect transformed by love and directed to the final good by good choices.
Augustinian higher education, therefore, engages the heart, that is human desire, human longing, and human emotion, along with the mind, in the search for truth. The end of this search for truth through an enlightened mind and engaged heart are lives empowered for love and the work of justice.
Augustinian Values at Merrimack College
In 2002, Merrimack College articulated the following values as the way in which it seeks to embody the Augustinian tradition and heritage:
- Before all else our college is a community of scholarship and service whose members support and challenge each other in a whole-hearted pursuit of knowledge, holding one another to the highest intellectual and ethical standards.
- Knowledge grows into wisdom when we recognize the limits of reason and of our individual perspectives, attend to the common good, and fashion the changes inspired by learning.
- The pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning requires diligent study, freedom of thought, dedication to dialogue, and collegial respect for each person’s experience.
- The contemplation and reflection encouraged by the intellectual life inspire an ethical sensibility as well as a prophetic critique of social structures in light of justice and peace.
- The great texts of human history, including sacred scriptures, call us to continuing dialogue as our varied religious and philosophical convictions enrich our Catholic mission.
- Our lifelong pursuit of truth and understanding can be for Christians an expression of the inner pilgrimage with Christ the Teacher, for adherents of all faiths part of the search for God, and for everyone a journey of hope amidst the ever-expanding horizons of human experience.