DES MOINES, IOWA – (April 8, 2024) April 7, 2024, marked an important milestone in Mercy College of Health Sciences’ history as the institution’s 125th Anniversary. Founded on a Legacy of Faith, Mercy College has heeded the call of Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy to educate healthcare professionals and teach them to lead with knowledge and compassion, fulfilling a commitment to excellent care with reverence and integrity for those they serve. This remains the hallmark of a Mercy College education.  

Since their own founding in 1831, the Sisters of Mercy have founded charitable organizations across the world, following Mother McAuley’s call to help those who need it most. Eventually, a small group of Sisters arrived in Iowa and established Mercy Hospital, a seemingly small decision that would set off a domino effect that led to the founding of Mercy Des Moines School of Nursing on April 7, 1899 

“As a result of the pioneering efforts of the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy College has proudly served Des Moines for over a century,” Mercy College President Adreain Henry, OD, EdD, MBA, explained. “It is truly humbling to know that their enduring legacy permeates our present endeavors. The Sisters dedication and faith laid the foundation upon which Mercy College has flourished into the exceptional institution it is today. Now, it is our faith – in our students, in our programs, and in our community – that will perpetuate our legacy for the next 125 years.”  

The decision to open the school was made not only to fill the desperate need for qualified healthcare professionals, but also to ensure that the means to fill that need would continue throughout generations. The small school grew, adding programs and schools as the population and health of the community demanded. The program was renamed the Mercy Regional Emergency Training Center in 1988, the same year Mercy Hospital consolidated its programs under the Mercy School of Health Sciences. In 1995, the schools of Nursing, Radiology, Medical Technology, and Perfusion joined with the Mercy Regional Emergency Training Center to become today’s Mercy College of Health Sciences. 


Today, Mercy College continues to seek out new ways to serve students and the healthcare community. The College offers 16 unique academic pathways, varying class formats, and multiple start dates throughout the year to provide opportunities for students across Iowa, the nation, and the world to pursue their callings at a convenient time and place. New partnerships have been forged with academic and professional institutions alike, and campus renovations continue to prioritize student access to the latest, most up-to-date technology. The recent launch of the Mercy College Guardian mascot pays homage to the school’s long history, honoring those who came forward to protect and defend those communities that were underserved and under-cared for. 

The world desperately needs excellent, knowledgeable caregivers, and Mercy College is proud to serve this need. Graduates are compassionate leaders in their fields, heeding the call to serve those who need it most, just as Catherine McAuley envisioned all those years ago.  

For 125 years, Mercy College has built on its Legacy of Faith, educating the next generation of healthcare professionals. More information on the 125th Anniversary news and celebrations will be shared soon.   

About Mercy College of Health Sciences

Mercy College of Health Sciences is a health sciences specialty school rooted in the Catholic heritage of the Sisters of Mercy. Located in the heart of downtown Des Moines, Iowa, Mercy College offers master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees, certificates, and continuing education courses. Through our unique hands-on learning, unparalleled clinical rotations, and accelerated education offerings, our students are prepared to enter the workforce quickly with the critical skills necessary to make an immediate impact in their chosen healthcare careers. Guided by our Core Values of Knowledge, Reverence, Integrity, Compassion, and Excellence, Mercy College has been transforming students into successful healthcare professionals for 125 years.