University Names Leader for Career Education and Professional Development

Dave Merry brings transformative ideas on career/experiential learning

The University has announced that Dave Merry, an innovator in career education, will lead Suffolk’s reimagined and expanded career development efforts, which incorporate professional preparation into the entire university experience.

In the new position of associate provost and executive director of the expanded Center for Career Education and Professional Development, Merry will generate and implement career-related initiatives and oversee programs in executive education and lifelong learning. His professional and academic experiences are on the cutting edge of the college-to-career arena and align with the career/experiential learning goals of the Suffolk 2025 strategic plan.

Merry will join the University on July 6. He comes to Suffolk from Northeastern University, where he helped to develop an integrative experiential learning framework and supporting technology and was later named associate director of the resulting program.

The University’s emphasis on integrating career education throughout the student experience, as detailed in Suffolk 2025, is what drew Merry to Suffolk and the associate provost position. He foresees Suffolk’s becoming an institution that others will look to for best practices in integrating career readiness into every aspect of the student experience, from the classroom to leadership involvement, service, internships, and more.

Dave Merry

A new approach to building a career

Merry, whose doctoral research addresses career services and the future of work, notes that most schools are still focused on the job-placement model, and, while this is important, a newer approach also emphasizes adaptability, skills needed for managing one’s own career, next steps, and career fulfillment.

“Students don’t know where they’ll be in ten years,” he said. “The first job sets up a career path, but it’s important that students have the skills to take that to the next level. And a career can drive a meaningful life.”

Learning from experience

Noting Suffolk’s commitment to embedding experiential learning in its educational model, Merry said: “You can have many experiences and not learn from them, but that’s not an issue at Suffolk.” In talking to University faculty and staff, he saw an enthusiasm for making every experience meaningful, and he noted how unified the community is in promoting student success.

“This reinforces for me how excited I am to join the University,” said Merry, who will begin his time at Suffolk by “continuing the conversation that started with the development of the strategic plan. I want to learn what will have the most impact on the most people initially—especially students.”

Merry, noting Suffolk’s role in the city and its reputation as a source of good in Boston and beyond, said: “I want the center to be the same powerful source of good for students.”

He sees the University as part of the ecosystem of Boston and its economy, which will become even more obvious as “Suffolk and its graduates play a role in shaping how the city will come out at the other end of the coronavirus crisis.”

Suffolk brings Merry on board as it enhances and rebrands the existing Career Development Center as the Center for Career Education & Professional Development. The center will offer a clear path towards professional development and career success for students in all majors and programs and for alumni.

“I am thrilled that Dave Merry will lead the Center for Career Education and Professional Development, as he brings a proven track record of success in building partnerships, developing experiential and professional learning opportunities, and creative leadership,” said Associate Provost of Academic Affairs Gary Fireman, who led the search that brings Merry to Suffolk.

Experience and education

Merry has been the associate director of experiential integration for Northeastern’s Self-Authored Integrated Learning program since 2018. Previously he was founding director of cooperative education for Northeastern’s College of Science, where he also was on the cooperative education faculty. Before that he was an academic adviser in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Merry holds a BA from the University of New Hampshire and an MA in Student Development in Postsecondary Education from the University of Iowa. He is completing a Doctor of Education program at Northeastern University, with a concentration in Higher Education Administration. The working title of his thesis is “Adapting career services for the future of work: Themes, trends and indicators.”

Media Contact

Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs