NORTH ANDOVER — Merrimack College President Christopher Hopey yesterday unveiled his agenda for the college for the next decade, including new fundraising and more competitive athletics.

Hopey has taken more than a year to settle into his job before revealing his vision for the school. President since July 2010, he took the ceremonial oath of office yesterday on campus and gave his inaugural address to the college community.

Hopey's goals for the next decade include increasing the student enrollment from about 2,100 students to more than 3,000. He said he also wants to make the school a NCAA Division I school and expand intercollegiate athletics.

"I promise I will be bold," Hopey said. "Bold is what this college was built on and bold is what will build this next generation of Merrimack College."

Hopey also has plans for a new fundraising campaign to increase the school's endowment.

"Some will see this plan as impossible," Hopey said. "But as Walt Disney said, 'It's kind of fun to do the impossible.'"

Hopey spent the first year of his presidency working with the college community to draft and approve a new strategic plan, entitled "The Agenda for Distinction." The plan includes five goals, including developing a contemporary Catholic mission and creating a more engaged, vibrant, student experience.

During his speech, Hopey frequently spoke about enhancing and expanding the school's mission as a Catholic institution. He pledged to protect the school's Catholic integrity, instilling students with humility and a commitment to serve others.

Hopey also touched on the college's history - started in 1947 by the Order of St. Augustine as a direct response to the needs and aspirations of local soldiers returning home from World War II. Hopey said the school was just starting out without a clear path and with much uncertainty.

"We stand here today because they were bold," Hopey said of previous Merrimack College leaders. "They had a dream and they followed it."

Also in Hopey's first year, the college spruced up the Welcome Center in McQuade Library, opened the Merrimack Club for improved dining, and announced plans to to expand the Volpe Athletic Center.

Hopey, of Nashua, N.H., succeeded Ronald Champagne, who had been president for the two years while the college looked for a permanent president. Before arriving in North Andover, Hopey was the vice president and dean for the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern Unviversity. He previously served as the vice dean at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Hopey has a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and bachelor's and master's degrees from Northeastern.

Multiple people praised Hopey's leadership in his first year on the job. Many of them talked yesterday about his energetic pace and drive.

"He is the opposite of complacent," said Richard Freeman, the Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. "I don't think he knows how to stand still."

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