Mercyhurst University announced that it will name its new school in intelligence and information science after Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Secretary of Homeland Security and former 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania.
The Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies and Information Science aims to prepare students for careers in national security, law enforcement and business. Mercyhurst’s innovative intelligence program draws students from across the nation and abroad and currently ranks as the university’s top major.
“Graduates of Mercyhurst’s intelligence studies program are well known and highly regarded inside the walls of our nation’s intelligence and defense agencies in Washington,” said Gov. Ridge. “I am honored that Mercyhurst University, an institution with which I have enjoyed a long and proud affiliation, would choose to attach my name to this new school. The young men and women who will leave with degrees will play a critical role in defending our nation’s safety and securing our freedom.”
Tom Ridge currently serves as CEO of Ridge Global, a Washington, DC-based security consulting firm. An Erie native and long-time friend of the University, Ridge donated his archives to Mercyhurst in 2013. According to dean and architect of the school, James Breckenridge, Mercyhurst chose to dedicate its new school to Ridge based on his “global mindset” and prominence in the national security realm.
"Gov. Ridge has always been a big supporter of ours and we admire his interest, commitment and practice in and around the intelligence studies discipline," Breckenridge said. "I might add that as keynote speaker, he was instrumental in the success of our first Global Intelligence Forum in Ireland."
Mercyhurst, a liberal arts college founded in 1926 by the Catholic Sisters of the Poor, recently reconfigured its intelligence studies program to incorporate mathematics, computer science, and communications with the unique goal of educating graduates in all three disciplines. The university’s multi-disciplinary approach to intelligence produces graduates with an integrated skill set based on disciplines which mutually reinforce one another.
“In marrying intelligence studies, mathematics, computer systems and communication, along with distance learning and online education, Mercyhurst is well positioned to exploit the new higher education environment,” said James Breckenridge, dean and architect of the school. “Currently, no higher education institution in the United States has developed an equivalent initiative.”
The new intelligence school plans to meet the growing demand for intelligence professionals well-versed in all three domains. Breckenridge hopes to meet the demand by bringing together the skills of the computer systems expert, communications specialist and intelligence analyst. The program emphasizes the ability to understand and analyze big data in order to fill the need for intelligence analysts with the ability to understand data science and new media.
“We know there’s a demand out there and we’re going to meet that demand,” said Breckenridge.
Through distance and online learning, the university plans to lead the way in developing new ways to deliver professional education.
“We are deeply honored and grateful to Gov. Ridge for lending his name to an innovative program that has helped catapult Mercyhurst University onto the world stage, and we look forward to graduating individuals who aspire to combine keen analytic skills with a commitment to genuine human flourishing in the manner of Gov. Ridge,” said Mercyhurst President Dr. Tom Gamble.