Dungarvan site may be transformed into campus for US college


A SITE in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, which had been earmarked for decentralisation may be transformed into the only European campus of a US college.

Mercyhurst College of Erie, Pennsylvania, has confirmed it is establishing a presence in Ireland for its students, many of whom are taking courses in areas such as intelligence and forensics with the aim of joining the FBI.

The first batch of students from Mercyhurst will arrive in Dungarvan this year.

While in the short-term the students will have lectures in buildings leased by the college it is hoped the site at Shandon in the town centre that had been earmarked for decentralisation will prove suitable for a purpose-built campus .

“That is certainly something I’d be pushing for as this vacant site would be ideal for construction of a dedicated campus,” said Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy.

“A meeting has taken place already with the Office of Public Works about this.

“Talks about the use of the decentralisation site were in-depth. It was a good meeting, and I think everybody was happy with the outcome of it.

“The OPW, I felt, seem to see what’s proposed as a solution for use of the site in question.”

The Shandon site had been intended to house decentralised staff from Ordnance Survey Ireland, but the project has now been shelved at least until 2011.

The vice-president of advancement at Mercyhurst College, Dr David Livingstone, was in Ireland last week for meetings on the plans, which have been welcomed in Dungarvan.

Mercyhurst College was contacted originally by Waterford county manager Ray O’Dwyer last spring and invited to consider the town as a location for its first European campus.

Representatives from Mercyhurst travelled to Dungarvan and met county and town officials, along with Mr Deasy.

They also met academic administrators from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and University College Cork (UCC) to discuss opportunities for exchange programmes.

The president of Mercyhurst decided Dungarvan would be the ideal site for his college’s first European campus, and since then negotiations have been continuing.

It is proposed that the students will live in Dungarvan for their two or three terms of study in high-quality townhouse accommodation provided through the Park Hotel.

They will also have access to the hotel’s leisure and fitness facilities.

It is proposed lectures will be conducted by Mercyhurst College’s staff and staff from WIT and UCC.