The last year was a busy year at Merrimack, going through the archives of The Beacon, proves that to be so. So we give you the events of 2011 that made headlines and garnered attention on campus.
February—After coming back from a long winter break, students and staff came back to more changes on campus from President Hopey’s administration. Hopey shook up administration bringing much of his leadership from Northeastern University, his previous place of employment. Hopey announced to The Beacon that Merrimack staple, Shawn DeVeau, the dean of students who every partier feared, had been fired. Student Life was remodeled putting Fr. Ray Dlugos at the head of Mission and Student Affairs, and Donna Swartwout as Dean of Campus Life, up from Assistant Dean of Student Life. Construction continued on campus as the Merrimack Club was added in the Sakowich Campus Center, a place for faculty and alumni to dine, and leadership meetings to be held. More administrative changes occurred as Jim Dennis and Michael Accardi were put in top advancement positions, the school hired Alexa Abowitz as chief legal counsel, and long time presidential arm, Linda Murphy was made assistant vice president for personnel. On the student side, Indoor Track had its inaugural season under Head Coach Matt Pimentel. Sprouting from a distance only squad, the program grew to add sprinters and jumpers very quickly. Students called upon administration for changes to laundry services, and a diversity initiative was launched; a consulting firm was brought in to lead the conversation of diversity on campus. Meanwhile Career Services made some serious changes, and a splurge in towing cars upset some scofflaw students.
March—Hockey was the talk on campus as Athletics launched the “2,000 Students, 28 Players, 1 Mission” campaign as Hockey came closer to a Hockey East championship. Hockey Hosted the Hockey East Quarterfinals and advanced to play at the TD Garden, which ushered in students by the bus load, and a massive event at Legends, a club inside the garden. Alumni presence at the Garden was overwhelming. Back on campus, students were able to create their own business ideas with the campus catalyst program being brought to campus.
April—Rumors spun around campus employees about Physical Plant, the department on campus that is in charge of grounds and facilities would be outsourced. President Hopey told The Beacon the rumors were “erroneous” and jobs were safe. Jeff Doggett was hired as Chief of Staff to President Hopey, starting a major leadership role on campus, other personnel changes came as Fr. Jim Wenzel and Joe Kelley joined the Division of Mission and Student Affairs. Wenzel, a Merrimack legend was working as a Special Assistant to Hopey for Augustinian Advancement, and Kelley a long time Merrimack leader was working as an Assistant to the President for Mission and Development. When Residence Life told some students that their housing availability may be at risk, many became very confused as to where they would be living next semester. Hopey affirmed to The Beacon “every student will get housing.”
May—The academic year wrapped up with an exciting spring concert that featured Ludacris. Students who were fed up with dining services on Campus called for a change to Sodexo’s unpleasing services.
September—A newsworthy fall started with President Hopey’s Inauguration as the eighth president of Merrimack College. The celebration started with a mass in the Collegiate Church, where Prior Provincial Mickey Genovese amused the congregation with a touching and comedic homily. The colorful mass was well attended and echoed Merrimack tradition. After the installation ceremony, the party began. The Sak was transformed with two stages, one with a band, and one with a bar. Everyone partied together to celebrate the enthusiastic and energetic Hopey. Speaking of Presidents, the seventh president of Merrimack, Richard Santagati no longer became a legacy on campus as the Board of Trustees voted to have his name removed as the name of Merrimack’s newest dormitory hall. The Trustees voted to rename ‘Gati, O’Brien Hall—after James O’Brien a generous benefactor of the college. Back in the Sak, Augie’s Pub opened as an on campus bar on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays to students who are 21+. Warrior field was renamed Martone-Mejail Field after the Men’s and Women’s Soccer coaches respectively.
October—The Hockey East announced that Notre Dame would join the Hockey East in 2013, allowing the Warriors another shot at defeating the Fighting Irish. Field Hockey capped off an exciting season as Conference Champions under Coach Anne Rounce. Another athletic facility was named, this time it was the basketball court, named for coach of over 30 years, Bert Hammel. Merrimack was hit hard by the Halloween Snow Storm as branches came down all over campus, cutting power to some residence halls for as much as a week, and academic buildings for just a few days.
November—The campus experienced the tragic loss of Jize Ma. A freshman who was studying electrical engineering from China. Mr. Ma, as his closest friends called him, was struck and killed by a car on Route 114. Mr. Ma’s death brought the Merrimack Community together for touching ceremonies and memorial services that were all tearjerkers. President Hopey announced that Merrimack was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for mismanagement of the Perkins Loan program in Financial Aid. All Financial Aid employees were terminated and a consulting firm was hired to fill their place. On the ice, Merrimack Hockey was ranked number one in the nation, making Merrimack the smallest Division I school to hold such a rank. Students voiced opinions with their problems with advising. The provost search welcomed four candidates to campus as finalists for the chief academic officer at Merrimack. Later on in the month the Provost Search Committee Chair would announce the search would be suspended and start again next year.
December– Athletics announces swimming as a new sport, and a special fundraiser to skate at Fenway Park. Domestic Violence awareness programs were all over campus to bring attention to a growing problem that plagues many relationships all over the country. Merrimack’s Facebook page reached 5,000 fans following a campaign that was completed at their due date of December 1.