Highlighting 90 years of excellence: looking back and imagining what lies ahead

Carlow University can trace its history back to Sept. 24, 1929, when 24 young women became the first students at what was then known as Mount Mercy College. At a time when little value was placed on higher education for women, the two dozen women and seven faculty members who taught them were pioneers of a sort, and their spirit matched the spirit of Mount Mercy’s founders, the Sisters of Mercy. Together, these students and their instructors quietly set out to change the world.

Those first students had a choice of two courses of study, which were indicative of the role of women at that time: a bachelor of arts in secretarial science or a bachelor of science in household administration. However, as part of their education, they had to choose between two minors from the following list: languages, literature, mathematics, religion, history, philosophy, English, biology and chemistry. It’s in those choices that echoes of the current course offerings can be seen.

Over the decades, great transformation has taken place at the university. Now coed, nearly 20,000 men and women have graduated from this Mercy institution.

Mount Mercy College became Carlow College in 1969, the first two male students graduated in 1972, and it became Carlow University in 2004. The college now offers more than 40 undergraduate programs, 20 master’s programs, 2 doctoral programs and 11 certificate programs—as well as 13 varsity athletic teams.

In 2015, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said of the newly renovated University Commons Building, “The University Commons transformation is symbolic of all that’s happening in this little corner of Pittsburgh … a true renaissance. We will be seeing the spinoff for years to come.”

In addition to strong academic growth and the delivery of coursework digitally and in accelerated formats, the university has continued to exemplify positive, strategic change in response to the needs of the workforce and region.

Recognizing that today’s higher education requires close working relationships with industry, the university created the Carlow Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation to ensure that new graduates, as well as those currently employed, are adequately prepared for the jobs of the future.

In 2018, Carlow created the College of Professional StudiesCollege of Professional Studies, whose primary objective is to establish a pipeline of talented, skilled workers. Its focus is on adult learners, equipping them with in-demand skills to meet the region’s needs, as well as partnering with companies to develop and advance their workforce through customized educational offerings.

Forthcoming is a new academic building on Fifth Avenue with state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratory space that will house four new graduate health sciences programs: speech pathology, physician’s assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapy—all of which will help address the shortage of healthcare workers in the future.

These initiatives are preparing students not just for today’s jobs, but for the jobs in the years ahead.

Those founding Sisters of Mercy would be very proud.

Read more about Carlow University’s 90th Anniversary

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