Divine Mercy University heads to Sterling

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Come fall 2019, Divine Mercy University will leave its cramped, rented space on Route 1 in Crystal City for its own 5-acre campus in Loudoun County, conveniently located next to Dulles Airport, not to mention a Cracker Barrel and Sheetz.  

“(The students) are excited to have the space and to really set down some roots,” said Jessie Tappel, senior director of communications. So far the school has raised $3.25 million for the move, and needs to raise $2.5 million more, according to Thomas Cunningham, chairman of the board of directors.

Divine Mercy University, formerly called the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, is a graduate school that offers online master’s degrees in counseling and psychology and in-person doctoral classes, all from the Catholic view of the human person. There are currently around 50 on-site students, and 200 online students who frequently fly in for clinical training. 

The university, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, has been searching in earnest for a permanent campus for two years, said Legionary Father Charles J. Sikorsky, president. He said the school has grown exponentially in the past few years, owing in part to accreditation of the school’s doctoral degree in clinical psychology by the American Psychological Association in 2016.

Students and faculty members were hoping for a location near affordable housing with access to public transit. The new Sterling facility will have more space for classrooms, a library, administrative offices and parking. In addition to future growth, “we need the space for the needs we have right now,” said Father Sikorsky.

The new building, which will be renovated to suit the needs of the school, also will house the Institute for Psychological Sciences Training Clinic, which will increase mental health services offered in the Loudoun area. Students also will be placed in externships around the community. “The county is worried about things like teen suicide and opioids, so they're very interested in working with us,” said Father Sikorsky. 

The chapel will be in the center of the new three-story building. The school community is excited to bring some Catholic culture to the office environment, said Cunningham. “We want people to know that this is a Catholic institution when they arrive,” he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

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