A Lifelong Commitment to Giving Back

From her first time stepping foot on Merrimack's campus as a student, to returning as a math and computer science teacher, to becoming a tenured faculty member and integral part of the College leadership, Associate Professor Mary Noonan '75 has been totally immersed in the Merrimack community. While she has witnessed the College undergo an incredible transformation over the years, she declares, “There's more to come, and I can't wait to see what happens next!”


Welcoming Faculty + Highly Respected Academics = The Perfect Fit

When deciding among her college options in the early 1970s, Mary found herself drawn to Merrimack’s approachable, welcoming faculty and solid mathematics program. A perfect fit for the commuter student, Mary recalls that what she enjoyed most about her time as a student was the community. “We were a tight knit group of students — I still have many of those same friends today. Merrimack was a small school with enriching academics and opportunities to meet wonderful faculty and peers.”

She also appreciates the strong educational foundation the College provided her and fellow students. “If I look at all my peers and what they are doing now, they have all achieved professional success. At Merrimack, we got the tool set needed to move into any professional realm that we were interested in and passionate about.”

A Return to Campus

Five years post-graduation, Mary reconnected with her former Merrimack math professor who asked if she would be interested in a teaching position at the College. She began teaching math and computer science courses and was surprised by how much she enjoyed it. She also loved the opportunity to re-connect with her mentors sharing, “My former professors were now my colleagues, and I was happy to try to emulate them. I wanted to give back to my students in the same way my professors had given back to me.”

Since those early days as a member of the College faculty, Mary has certainly found ways to give back to many students, bringing her Merrimack experience full-circle. After joining the faculty in 1980, Mary went on to earn a tenured position at the College, later founding the Department of Computer Science. She has since served in many capacities, including Interim Dean of the School of Science & Engineering, and currently holds positions as the Computer Science Department Chair and Associate Professor of Computer Science.

Working in tandem with President Christopher E. Hopey and the rest of the College leadership, Mary shares she is especially honored to have played a role in Merrimack’s transformation over the past eight years. “President Hopey has really transformed the College into an amazing ecosystem where students are tremendously supported in discovering and striving for their passions, with faculty by their side as mentors and cheerleaders. Transformative change can be seen across the entire college from new state of the art learning centers, innovative masters programs (including data science), a nursing program starting this fall and amazing athletic facilities including a new football stadium. Many students are studying abroad and making a difference in others’ lives through compassionate service learning projects.”

The Heart of Merrimack

While reflecting on the tremendous advances the College has made since her first days on campus, Mary also states that throughout the years, the heart of Merrimack has never changed. “Merrimack has always developed and engaged a strong community of learners. Students not only pursue their academic interests, but also learn how to be empathetic global citizens with a strong sense of social responsibility.”

A member of the Wenzel Society, which recognizes donors who give consistently to Merrimack, Mary and her husband Jim are approaching 25 consecutive years of supporting the College. Mary strongly believes that giving back to the College is an important commitment to providing the same timeless Merrimack experience that she had to current and future generations of students. “Giving back, it’s a way of me saying thank you for the experience and mentorship I have received. And I take pride in knowing my gift to Merrimack will be utilized in a magnificent way.”

Mary encourages others to discover their own ways of giving back, including reconnecting with the campus, faculty and fellow alumni, supporting the College with a donation, attending events such as Homecoming and Reunion and volunteerism. Appreciative of the qualities that have steadily remained the heart of Merrimack throughout the years, she also reflects on what is yet to come: “Become a part of the Merrimack of the future. As evidenced by the transformation that’s already taken place over the last eight years, an investment in Merrimack is a guarantee of a good investment. I see Merrimack’s momentum only continuing.”


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