In Rancho Palos Verdes: 'New and exciting times'
Story and photos by Doris Benavides - The Tidings
For years Marymount College has been known as the only two-year higher education Catholic institution left in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
That changed Feb. 24, however, when the college board of trustees and president Michael Brophy announced the accreditation of the Rancho Palos Verdes school as a four-year, co-educational Catholic college by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities.
To celebrate the achievement, faculty, staff, students, the board of trustees, the president and the founders all gathered on a sunny March 12 at the Rancho Palos Verdes campus' Chapel Circle.
The celebration opened with a prayer by Father Mark Villano, campus minister, who was followed by remarks from the president of the school's student association, and representatives of the advisory council, the faculty senate, Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, the PVP Unified School District, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, L.A. City Council, and the Religious Sisters of Sacred Heart of Mary, college founders. Msgr. Joseph Hernandez, vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, read a congratulatory letter from Cardinal Roger Mahony.
"This is a new and exciting time for Marymount's history," said Burt Arnold, chairman of Marymount's board of trustees. "Our new and innovative programs will give Marymount College the opportunity to sustain our mission."
The accreditation will expand the college's curriculum, offering courses for bachelor of arts degree in business, liberal arts and media studies starting in September 2010. School officials made clear that the school will maintain its maximum enrollment at 793 students, in accordance with the conditional use permit from the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.
The business program will offer concentration in entrepreneurship, business communication, management science and the global economy. Under the liberal arts program the students will be able to design an interdisciplinary program with courses selected from the areas of business, media, psychology, global studies and American studies. The media studies will allow students to choose concentration in digital arts and design, video and film production, digital motion graphics, digital animation or digital Web design and digital interactive media.
The results have been very gratifying for the whole Marymount community, although the road to get there was long, and challenging.
"It has been a long journey, very difficult," Brophy told The Tidings, noting that rigorous accreditation policies make it hard for colleges wishing to add bachelor's degree programs.
"We had to demonstrate we had the capacity to become a four-year college," Brophy said, "and we had to put a plan in place to make sure we comply with the policies."
Part of the plans included the addition of three new board of trustees' members, all of them with expertise in the new fields that will be offered. The faculty skills and job description had to be determined, as well as the facilities that will be used for the new graduate degrees, especially in the media studies field. Although the institution offers a major in media, the four-year program requires improvements of the current facilities.
Marymount was originally founded as a four-year college by the Religious Sacred Heart of Mary in Tarrytown, New York, receiving the accreditation in 1919. At the invitation of Bishop John Joseph Cantwell to establish an institution in Los Angeles, the college opened its doors in Westwood in 1932 as a two-year women's college, receiving accreditation as a four-year women's college 15 years later.
In 1960 the campus moved to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and in 1968 established a partnership with then all-male Loyola University, offering cross-enrollment of classes, which led to a merger that helped form Loyola Marymount University in 1972.
That year, Marymount College returned to its origins as a two-year higher education college, this time becoming a co-ed institution. Three years later the school moved to its current location.
"This is great. It is like ending a full circle!" exclaimed RSHM sisters Millie Inks, Maureen Murray, Alice Molina and Mary Leah Plante, attending the celebration. The RSHM are represented in the college board of trustees by Sister Antoine-Marie Baurier, who also serves as teacher.
"What's most wonderful is that our collaborators are able to carry on the mission of the RSHM in a wonderfully, unique way," Sister Plante told The Tidings.
After congratulating Brophy for introducing the idea to become a four-year college to the board of trustees, during her remarks Sister Plante expressed her thanks to the school's leadership for "staying true to their Catholic heritage, for their global perspective" and for offering an environment where students can "develop a reflective life, practice Gospel values and participate in the ritual practices of the community."
Also very happy with their official's decision were students Austin Peterson, Stefnie Huth and Israel Reynoso.
"We were very excited because we wanted to stay here," said Peterson and Huth about the new bachelor's degree program.
The students said they like the institution's welcoming environment, where they receive one-on-one attention from their instructors that they believe they would not receive in an institution with a larger enrollment.
"All the teachers and even the president, Dr. Brophy, keep their doors open," noted the future business-degree students. "We are happy to be a part of history."
For more information about Marymount College, visit www.marymountpv.edu or call (310) 377-5501.
Dr. Brophy's Address to Faculty, Staff and Community
This is a great day for a great college.
As I look out across this gathering I am proud to see our faculty and staff. We know that the biggest mistake we could make is to underestimate what we can achieve. And, today, for our students, we have demonstrated that we can achieve great things. One again, you have inspired our students. So, thank you faculty and staff… you have made all the difference.
I see the Marymount Board members who decided to advance the College at a time when it would be so easy to cower before the financial crisis. The Board had the courage to lead us on this journey and meet the needs of students who want to achieve their four-year degree here at Marymount College. You have inspired us, the faculty, and staff. On behalf of our staff and faculty, thank you to our chair and our board.
To our students. Many of you will transfer on next year to another university. You know that we will continue to offer our transfer option to the next generation of students who wish to be part of the Marymount community as students who will come here for the general education. Others will stay here to be part of the inaugural four-year class. You know that all you make a difference in our lives and you have made a difference as we chartered this new course for Marymount. You will always be our inspiration so thank you for being part of our precious community.
To the many community members, educators, and donors who are here. You gave us the crucial support, insights, and affirmation we needed in advancing the College. You, too, were our inspiration. On behalf of our entire community, thank you so much for all you’ve done.
To the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary who have played a central role in supporting this College. Without you, our mission would be incomplete. Your devotion to serving others inspires us and is a cornerstone of our new four-year degrees. Thank you for founding this College and for your continued prayers and support.
I will offer special thanks to my family and especially my wife, Tara, who has learned through osmosis, probably more than she ever expected to learn about becoming a four year College. Thank you, Tara, for your love and support over the last year.
Finally, to the individual who has so little sleep over the last year. Who gave so much of herself: her intelligence, her wisdom, and her humanity as she led our application to become a four-year college. Please rise, Dr. Ariane Schauer, and let our entire gathering today recognize your extraordinary efforts.
The College has been receiving congratulations from all over the world.
God bless all of you and your families and God bless Marymount College.