Four Decades of Alliance: A Good Start for Marymount College and San Pedro

For nearly 40 years, Marymount College has maintained a mutually beneficial relationship with the San Pedro community. This year, the College plans to invest quite a bit more in this vibrant Los Angeles neighborhood.  While the College’s main campus is in Rancho Palos Verdes, both student residences are located in San Pedro. In addition, many faculty and staff members of the College make their homes there.

“It is a natural fit for Marymount College to expand into the San Pedro community,” said Marymount College President Michael S. Brophy. “San Pedro offers our students an important ‘extended classroom,’ in which students are transformed through a combination of traditional academic learning and real-world experience. Working, volunteering and taking part in local activities helps students understand the world outside the classroom and create lives of leadership and service.”

Participation in San Pedro’s community and cultural events has created a buzz among students and members of the downtown community.  From mentoring students at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Los Angeles Harbor to donating blood at Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital’s blood drives and from preserving the native habitat at White Point to performing jazz at the Grand Annex, students and residents alike are realizing the benefits of this relationship.

“Marymount’s presence means so much for downtown San Pedro,” said Liz Schindler Johnson, president and executive director of the Grand Vision Foundation. “Downtown San Pedro has many of the elements of a college town. Students are just what our local business community needs to energize our quaint and historic town.”

“My students are so revved up about participating in downtown San Pedro’s First Thursdays,” said Marymount Fine Art Professor Paul Eastup. “They look forward to it each and every month.” First Thursday is a unique event with free music, dancing, and performances right on the street while many businesses, restaurants, and art galleries and studios stay open late.

This school year, Marymount College will again increase its presence in the downtown area to accommodate growth; serve upper-division undergraduates and develop graduate programs; and connect to local business, municipal, arts and not-for-profit groups. A new administrative and institutional center will be located at 222 Sixth Street, and students will have the opportunity to exhibit their visual and multimedia art in rotating galleries at the Arcade Building.  In addition, more classes will be offered in the downtown San Pedro area this year.

“Looking into our next academic year, we plan to hold more classes on Sixth Street, as well as offer film series, theatrical productions, guest lectures and gallery exhibitions,” said Dr. Brophy. “We will increase our participation in the First Thursday Art Walk and become more deeply involved in service and philanthropic projects in San Pedro.”

In a more long-term strategy announced in June, Marymount College proposed a 50-year master plan for its San Pedro satellite campus, located at 1600 Palos Verdes Drive North, which includes the construction residential and academic facilities by 2055. The College is in the early stages of the mandatory Los Angeles County Conditional Use Permit process and does not anticipate CUP approval before December 2012.

“The San Pedro master plan centers on developing a small college campus where students will live, attend classes and study,” said Dr. Brophy. “Projects will be completed in steps over the duration of 50 years. First steps will include the construction of an aesthetically pleasing parking lot to curtail street parking on Palos Verdes Drive North, a maintenance facility, and upgrading the existing townhomes to accommodate the growing need for student housing.”

Subsequent steps include the construction of an educational building with student facilities, a dining commons and recreational features, and eventually new residential dorm-type units built in the iconic “California Craftsman” style. The plan also reaffirmed the College’s commitment to move forward with construction at the College’s main campus.

“While the origins of Marymount College will always be the Rancho Palos Verdes campus, we are truly excited about our presence in San Pedro and all that this wonderful community has to offer,” said Dr. Brophy.  “As our College continues to advance, cooperation and collaboration with our communities will remain central to Marymount’s success.”