Mercy College: Mentoring Programs and New Degrees Boost Enrollment

Founded in 1950, Mercy College is a private, nonprofit institution with a main campus in Dobbs Ferry, NY, as well as campuses in the Bronx, Manhattan, Yorktown Heights, and White Plains. Through an engaging and personalized learning experience, Mercy College provides motivated students with the opportunity to earn degrees in undergraduate and graduate programs within five schools: Business, Education, Health and Natural Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Liberal Arts.

Mercy College recently announced a notable expansion in enrollment for the 2009-2010 academic year, as its total number of quality students approaches 10,000. The current number of undergraduate and graduate students (9,643) represents an increase of more than 12 percent since 2007.

Deirdre Whitman, vice president of enrollment management, cited a number of reasons for this growth — even during a period of economic recession. According to Whitman, Mercy College’s reputation for affordability and quality is paramount. The scope of the more than 90 in-demand degree programs taught by esteemed faculty and offered at five campuses attracts many highly motivated students. In addition, when students are weighing which college to attend, the Mercy College Personalized Achievement Contract (PACT) often is a deciding factor.

Leading With the PACT

The PACT, now in its second year of implementation, is a revolutionary program designed to maximize student success through a multi-faceted collaboration between the student and the College. The PACT provides incoming Mercy College students with professional, cross-trained mentors who facilitate integrated support for academic, career, and personal growth that continues for each student’s entire college experience. Together, students and mentors create customized plans designed to guarantee academic excellence and skills development that will ultimately translate into career placement opportunities and success.

PACT started with a pilot program of 50 students and has now expanded to more than 500. PACT mentors contact accepted students and their families to assist with financial aid, housing, course selection, and other support needed to make a seamless transition into college. The mentor then continues to develop a close relationship with the student through ongoing meetings and dialogue, serving as the point person for all aspects of the Mercy College experience.

“The PACT has certainly influenced our rise in enrollment, as well as success for students once they are part of our Mercy College community,” said Dr. Kimberly Cline, president of Mercy College. “Students are innately drawn to the idea of having mentors who they can contact 24/7 — be it in person, on the phone, or through various social networking mediums — and who are dedicated to helping them every step of the way in a highly personalized manner.” 

New Programs Draw New Students

Enrollment expansion at Mercy College is also due in part to the wide range of academic choices the College presents to students — more than 90 graduate and undergraduate degree programs, including many new offerings that specifically address 21st-century academic and employment trends. Ms. Whitman explained, “We often connect with potential students by engaging them to talk about their interests and goals, as well as financial and personal considerations. Then we can introduce them to an array of programs that directly cater to their personal and career aspirations.”  

Highlights of recent program innovations include:
  • A five-year B.S./M.S. Dual Degree Program in Education leading to New York State teacher certification at reduced time and cost to students;  
  • A business major in Corporate and Homeland Security;  
  • An undergraduate specialization in Sports Management;  
  • A Doctorate in Physical Therapy; and   
  • The doubling of hybrid courses offered online and on campus.
Mercy College courses are taught by a top-tier faculty that includes Fulbright scholars, published authors, and national experts in their fields. The College also has an Honors Program that offers unique preparation for high achieving students through academic challenges, an enriched learning experience, and engagement in co-curricular activities.

Inspiring and Influencing Potential Students

According to Dr. Cline, another reason for the surge in enrollment is the enthusiasm and expertise of Deirdre Whitman and her recruitment team. Since joining the College during 2008, Ms. Whitman has initiated changes in every aspect of the enrollment effort — from streamlining the application system with the latest technology to increasing the number of recruitment visits tenfold. The result is a 100 percent increase in applications from 2007 to 2010. 

The Mercy College recruitment team conducted more than 2,000 visits to high schools, college fairs, and other venues as well as campus events during 2009 — with even greater volume planned for 2010. Ms. Whitman noted, “Creativity in communication is a key to what we do, as well as our commitment to provide individual attention to all students and parents. Having a passion and enthusiasm for the 'life changing' benefits of a Mercy College education is important, too. This passion is the magic that motivates and inspires thousands!”  

Dr. William E. Martinov, Jr.
is executive dean of Student Services and Leadership at Mercy College. For more information, contact the College at 877/MERCY-GO, or visit their Website.