Letter to the Editor about Mercyhurst College

To the Editor:

While it has been interesting to observe the political fray developing in Washington, D.C., over a single intelligence training contract Mercyhurst College recently earned with DHS, we are not going debate in--or with--the media about this issue.

We will, however, offer clarification on several points made in the March 16, 2005, article by Bob Williams on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity.

We welcome any representative from your publication who has questions about our capabilities to visit our campus and watch the fundamental intelligence analysis training that is part of the day-to-day operations here, and draw their own conclusions. It is a beautiful six-hour drive to Erie, Pa., from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., and I am confident you’ll find a visit to our program worth the time investment.

Meanwhile, Mercyhurst College stands by our intelligence studies program, its faculty, and students, many of whom have gone toe-to-toe with graduates of the well-respected universities found inside the Beltway--for both internships and jobs--and gotten the hire. The reality is our graduates have proven themselves as critical thinkers with the technical skills that enable them to hit the ground running.

That is why they choose to study at Mercyhurst, and that is why we got the DHS contract. We were the program flexible enough to meet the needs of the intelligence community in this particular case. To imply Mercyhurst is better connected in Washington, D.C., than the behemoth universities whose programs we’re being compared to is, while flattering, absurd.

We are certainly disappointed that much of the background information we provided Mr. Williams about our program was omitted from his final article--facts that would have given your readers a great deal of insight into why Mercyhurst can handle intelligence training contracts. That was certainly not due to “secrecy” on our part. Rather, in supplying background information and contacts about both our college and our intelligence studies program, we were extremely cooperative and open.

That is more than I can say about Mr. Williams’ choice to include quotations from Mr. Alan Grayson without noting Grayson’s ties to George Washington University (see their website). A coincidence, I’m sure, but an affiliation worth including.

And lastly, Mr. Williams’ characterization of a tool in the war on terror--a handy deck of cards used by military in the field to identify wanted Iraqi militants--as “infamous,” (having a reputation of the worst kind; notoriously evil) is simply inaccurate.

We would very much welcome you to explore the best-kept secret in intelligence studies, and see for yourself the real story behind this extraordinary program and how we believe it is changing the future of intelligence for the better.

I have attached some of the background information about our graduates and current students; I believe you’ll quickly see evidence of our capabilities reflected in their accomplishments. Please feel free to contact me if I can provide any further insight.

Gennifer Biggs
Ms. Biggs is Director of Public Relations at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.

Ms. Biggs refers readers to the following stories about Mercyhurst College:

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This story was published on March 18, 2005.