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History

Marymount Manhattan College was founded in 1936 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary as a two-year women’s college and a New York City extension of Marymount College, Tarrytown in Tarrytown, New York. In 1948, the College moved to its present location on 71st Street and became a four-year bachelor degree-granting college; the first class graduated from MMC in 1950. In 1961, MMC was granted an absolute charter as an independent four-year college by the Regents of the University of the State of New York.

Faithful to the vision of its founders, Marymount Manhattan has a long history of reaching out to diverse populations in need of higher education. Over the years, Marymount Manhattan’s mission as an urban, independent, coeducational nonsectarian liberal arts college has expanded to include a greater variety of students, including men, nontraditional students, and students from a variety of ethnic and geographic backgrounds.

1930s

  • 1936

    The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, led by Mother Joseph Butler and Mother Gerard Phelan, establishes Marymount College as a two-year women’s college. The former Pratt Residence, located at 85th Street and Fifth Avenue, is purchased with intentions to inaugurate a branch of Marymount College in the City. On September 24, 1936, ten students enter what is to be the first freshman class of Marymount Manhattan College.

1940s

  • 1944

    The College yearbook, the Avelan, makes its debut in May (Corviae, student newspaper, May 29, 1944)

  • 1948

    Mother Rita Rowley, RSHM, Ph.D., begins serving as Marymount Manhattan’s first educational leader under the title “Dean,” and continues to do so until 1953.

  • 1948

    The College moves to its present location on 71st Street, the former headquarters of the Junior League, and becomes a four-year-degree-granting institution. Bedrooms like this one were repurposed as classrooms when MMC moved to 71st Street.

  • 1948

    Professor Margaret Sheehan organizes the first Sing, an entertainment competition between classes.

  • 1949

    The swimming pool, formerly located on the 8th floor of the Main building, officially opens for beginning, intermediate and advanced swimming classes (Corviae, March 1949).

1950s

  • 1950

    The first four-year class graduates from Marymount College.

  • 1953

    Mother Raymunde McKay, RSHM, M.A., is named Dean. In 1961, Mother Raymunde obtains a separate charter for the College and becomes its first president. She served the college from 1953 to 1964, and again from 1988 to 1990. She received the President’s Medal in 1990.

  • 1958

    Janet Collins, the first African-American prima ballerina to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera, begins teaching dance at MMC, and continues until 1971.

  • 1958-1965

    The College purchases eight brownstones on 72nd Street and acquires the building adjacent to 221, now known as the Main entrance

1960s

  • 1961

    Marymount College is granted an absolute charter as an independent college by the Regents of the University of the State of New York on February 24, 1961, and changes its name to Marymount Manhattan College. The present main entrance goes up.

  • 1964

    The College offers students on-campus living arrangements in a small residence hall conveniently located near the Main building.

  • 1964

    Anne-Marie Keyes, Ph.D., begins teaching philosophy at MMC, and continues to do so until 2003. 

  • 1965

    MMC holds its first recorded Honors Day.

  • 1966

    Priscilla and John Costello, wifeand-husband English professors who received Teaching Excellence Awards, begin teaching at MMC. They devoted two professional lifetimes, a combined total of 78 years, to Marymount Manhattan and its students. Priscilla established the Critical Thinking Program and served as its director for over ten years, and became the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs in the late 1980s. John taught more than 70 different literature courses. He also created courses with colleagues in other departments, including art history, history, music, philosophy, psychology, sociology and theatre.

  • 1966

    Sister Judith Savard, RSHM, joins the MMC faculty, and teaches art history, studio art and graphic design until her death in 2004. She created an integrated, multifaceted art major that continues to thrive at the College today.

  • 1966

    During her short tenure as President, Sister Elizabeth-Marie Keeler, RSHM, Ph.D., positions the College for greater growth with federal grant funding, and establishes cooperative programs with IBM and the Kennedy Child Development Center.

  • 1967

    Sister Colette Mahoney, RSHM, Ph.D., begins her 21-year presidency of the College, shepherding it through a time of political and social upheaval when student unrest is prevalent throughout the nation. She received the President’s Medal in 1988.

  • 1967

    To provide opportunities for educationally disadvantaged students, the Community Leadership Program is established and later the MalcolmKing: Harlem College Extension provides special college training for adults.

  • 1967

    The mathematics department receives a grant from the federal government to teach computer programming, taught by Professor John Driscoll, a mathematics professor at MMC from 1963 to 2002 (Corviae, May 1967), in cooperation with the Service Bureau Corporation—a division of IBM (Marymount Manhattan College Alumnae Newsletter, Spring 1968).

     

  • 1967

    McGeorge Bundy, the former U.S. National Security Advisor for President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson, heads the commission that pushes for the passage of legislation making direct government financial aid available to private institutions of higher education. However, the New York State Constitution included the “Blaine Amendment,” prohibiting direct government aid to educational institutions that have any religious affiliation. Because of this, New York State initially denies Marymount Manhattan any share of “Bundy Money” under the terms of the Blaine Amendment. Later on October 29, 1971, the College amends its charter to delete the words “for women, lay and religious.” (Marymount Manhattan College: The First Fifth Years, 1936-1986, 1986)

  • 1968

    Marymount Manhattan begins offering, in collaboration with the Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing, the first two years of a five-year professional program in nursing.

  • 1968

    Choreographer Rudy Perez joins the MMC dance faculty as the Resident Artist in Dance until 1978.

  • 1968

    Professor J. William Bordeau joins the faculty and helps build the B.F.A. programs in acting and dance. As the first Director of Recruitment for the Theatre Arts Department, Professor Bordeau took particular care in mentoring students through the admissions process, bringing the most talented students to MMC. Upon his retirement in 1999, the Board of Trustees named him Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts.

  • 1969

    In an editorial, Currents, the student newspaper, launches discussion about supporting co-education at Marymount Manhattan (Currents, October 1969). In 1973, the first male students (Kenneth Brewster, Bhoj Dindiyal and Charles White) graduate from MMC. A greater influx of male students occurs in the 1980s, and the College’s theatre arts and dance productions include more roles for males.

  • 1969

    Tibor Farkas begins teaching political science and still teaches as a professor emeritus.

     

  • 1969

    Two nationally prominent widows, civil rights activist Coretta Scott King and Ethel Kennedy, receive MMC’s first honorary degrees. The assassination of their husbands, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the previous year had left the nation reeling.

1970s

  • 1970

    The College mourns the death of MMC’s professor Dr. Nicholas S. Timasheff, a Russianborn pioneer in the sociology of law and author of Sociology Theory, Its Growth and Development, which became the national standard textbook in sociological theory. Dr. Timasheff was born in St. Petersburg and taught sociology and jurisprudence at the university there until his expulsion from the country in 1921. He taught at the University of Prague and at the Sorbonne’s Institute of Slavic Studies until 1936, when he came to the United States as a visiting lecturer at Harvard. Dr. Timasheff taught at MMC from 1943 to 1963.

  • 1970

    The first recorded Alumni Association Medal is awarded to Barbara Lynch Loughlin ’70, “the student who has been voted by the graduating class to have exercised the greatest influence for good upon her companions” (Today, June 1970).

  • 1970

    Mother Butler Gold Cross is awarded to Valerie Merone Guadagnino ’70, “the student showing the greatest loyalty to the ideals of the College.” This award was established by the College in memory of Mother Joseph Butler, who was responsible for establishing a network of colleges called Marymount throughout the United States.

  • 1970

    A group of MMC students mobilizes the MMC community for the observance of a day of mourning for the students slain on May 4 at Kent State University. Four unarmed students were killed by the Ohio National Guard while protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia. The MMC Faculty Council condemned “the de-humanizing, de-personalizing, brutalizing recent actions, national and international, of public officials and private individuals: in particular, the tragedy at Kent State University and the apparently unconstitutional de facto invasion of Cambodia” and offered students a proposal for alternative class arrangements. The College officially closed for the day on May 8, turning the campus into a public information center on the local and nationwide student strike; mounting a daylong program of speakers, dialogues, dramatic performances and memorial services; and enacting the joint faculty, student and administrative resolutions defining the school’s future participation in the nationwide student strike. (Corviae, May 1970; Today, alumni magazine, June 1970).

  • 1971

    Marymount Manhattan phases out its Home Economics program, and its principal professor, Mrs. Frances Telsey, retires. Although Mrs. Telsey was well known for teaching a course with the pre-feminist-sounding title of “Hostess Problems,” she also prepared students for careers in home economics: in nutrition, in teaching and in consumer education.

  • 1972

    Barbara Hackman Franklin, staff assistant to President Richard M. Nixon for increasing women’s opportunities in the workplace, delivers the commencement address, leading some students to object, believing the invitation represented approval of the Nixon Administration and its policies, especially in Southeast Asia. Hackman focused her remarks on the graduates before her, urging them to “Go and do your thing. Do it your way and do it well.”

  • 1973

    Colette A. Wagner ’73 receives the Rowley Medal, which was established in memory of Mother Rita Rowley, foundress of Marymount Manhattan College, and given to the student whose educational achievements represent extraordinary determination and effort.

  • 1974

    MMC expands by constructing a seven-story building on 72nd street, replacing eight brownstones located immediately behind the original college structure. The Nugent building officially opens and is named in honor of former Trustee Joseph C. Nugent, Sr., who was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1967 to 1980.

  • 1974

    The Thomas J. Shanahan Library opens on the second and third floors of the Nugent building. The library was formerly located in what is now known as the Office of the President.

  • 1975

    The Weekend College at Marymount Manhattan opens, offering courses to returning women students on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • 1975

    Marymount Manhattan Theatre opens and establishes a five-year residency of the Phoenix Theatre Company at the College, featuring actors, such as Glenn Close, Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Bacon, Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin and Christine Baranski. The theatre is renamed The Theresa Lang Theatre in 2001.

  • 1976

    Acclaimed film director Sidney Lumet receives honorary degree from MMC in the same year his film, Network, causes the phrase “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” to enter permanently into American consciousness.

  • 1976

    MMC celebrates springtime on 71st Street during its first Strawberry Festival (Sunrise, April 1976). The event replaced the annual “Spring-In” that began in 1967.

  • 1979

    The College established a cooperative agreement with the New York Botanical Garden, which offered 13 courses in botany.

1980s

  • 1980

    MMC holds a memorial for Sister Ita Ford ’61, who was killed with three other female missionaries. Sr. Ita’s classmates honored her with the plaque that still hangs in the Thomas J. Shanahan Library. Sr. Ita was honored posthumously with the Raymunde McKay Award in 2006, during what would have been her 45th class reunion.

  • 1980

    Marvelle Colby joins the faculty and serves 15 years as Chair of the Division of Accounting and Business Management until her retirement in 2001, the year she also received the Teaching Excellence Award.

  • 1981

    Rosa Parks receives MMC’s honorary degree as a tribute to civil rights activism and her act of courage that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.

  • 1983

    Professor Gurcharan Singh, who became a fulltime faculty member in 1980, establishes the international studies major at MMC. For 27 years, he inspired MMC students and fellow faculty members with his commitment to global peace, conflict resolution and international studies. He received the Teaching Excellence Award in 1996.

     

  • 1983

    College continues to expand weekend programs for returning women students. Targeting women between 22 and 34, the College offers Women in Management, an honors program that began in 1974 and enlists successful women executives to serve as mentors and role models for students.

  • 1984

    Geraldine Ferraro ’56 becomes the first woman to be nominated as a candidate for Vice President of the United States by a major party. In 1990, Ferraro established a scholarship in memory of her mother, Antonetta Ferraro, who urged Geraldine to attend college despite her own hardships as a widow. In 2007, the College presented Geraldine with the President’s Medal. 

  • 1984

    Senator Edward M. Kennedy receives honorary degree.

  • 1986

    Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, speaks at Marymount Manhattan about how to carry the women’s movement to a second stage with a new generation of young women, 20 years after her women’s liberation manifesto was first published.

  • 1986

    In honor of the 50th anniversary of the first four-year graduating class, the College awards the Jubilee Medal to Theresa Dalton, RSHM; Brendan McQuillan, RSHM; Raymunde McKay, RSHM; Jogues Egan, RSHM; ElizabethMarie Keeler, RSHM; Dr. Mattie Cook; Mr. Joseph C. Nugent; Dr. Ewald B. Nyquist; Marian Sheehan Campbell ’54; Mary Grace Walsh Erbacher ’55; Jane McCormick Griffin ’65; Elizabeth M. Heffernan ’51; Joanne Bronski Henrick ’75; Fran Burke Hynes ’55; Joan Parlapiano Macellaro ’59; Mary Roberts McCormack ’61; Mary Hehir O’Donnell ’61; and Laura Frances Maguire ’83.

  • 1989

    Choreographer Twyla Tharp receives honorary degree.

1990s

  • 1990

    Regina Peruggi, Ed.D., becomes the first lay president of Marymount Manhattan College. She helped strengthen the financial position of the College during her term, which ended in 2001.

  • 1990

    MMC students forms the Gay and Lesbian Collective, a club that addresses concerns with the gay community at the College (Corviae, November 1990). In 2011, the Office of Student Affairs organized a Safe Zone training program designed to visibly identify community members who support the LGBTQ population and to provide them with the knowledge needed to be effective allies to LGBTQ students.

  • 1992

    The College mourns the passing of Sister Dymphna Leonard, who had taught for 34 years in the communication arts, education and English departments at MMC.

  • 1993

    Trustee William E. Murray, Esq., then Chair of the Board of Trustees, receives the Raymunde McKay Award, which is now awarded each year to alumni in recognition of distinguished service and outstanding contributions to the community-at-large.

  • 1993

    Brigid Driscoll ’54, RSHM, Ph.D., then President of Marymount in Tarrytown, receives Alumnae Association’s Distinguished Life Achievement Award.

  • 1993

    Marymount Manhattan hosts a program of Girls Engaged in Mathematics and Science on its campus during the summer, and continued to do so until 1998. The program recruited young women from area high schools for classes, field trips, and fun activities designed to help the students advance in careers in which women were underrepresented.

  • 1994

    Marymount Manhattan commences hosting The Writing Center, and continues to do so until 2010. The Writing Center brought poets, playwrights, and novelist and non-fiction writers to speak at the College, and organized an annual summer Writers’ Conference of workshops and seminars.

  • 1995

    College rebrands its returning adult student program to Fast Track and targets male and female applicants.

  • 1995

    Mary Twomey Greason ’86 (art history) joins the Board of Trustees and has served since then. Ms. Greason received the President’s Medal in 2010.

  • 1997

    After a legislative cut in funding for college education programs in prisons at both the federal and state levels, Marymount Manhattan assumes responsibility as the degree granting institution for the Bedford Hills College Program.

  • 1997

    Theresa E. Lang ’97 (English) joins the Board of Trustees and serves the College until 2006. The College awarded Mrs. Lang an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts at the 2008 Commencement. The Theresa Lang Theatre, the Theresa Lang Center for Producing and the Theresa Lang Scholarship Fund, which supports students who demonstrate academic merit and are involved with community service, all bear Mrs. Lang’s name, in appreciation of her advocacy and support for education.

2000s

  • 2000

    Marymount Manhattan breaks ground for its Residence Hall at 55th Street.

  • 2000

    Rebecca Sperling, Ph.D., associate professor of social work and sociology, is chosen by her peers to receive Teaching Excellence Award and in 2011, would be elected president of the Faculty Senate.

  • 2001

    The Residence Hall opens on 55th Street, as one of the tallest college dorms in America, housing undergraduate students in the first 32 stories of a 46-story skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. It houses more than 500 students during the school year, with a focus on first-year housing and the first-year experience.

  • 2001

    The Board of Trustees selects Judson R. Shaver, Ph.D., as the first male president to serve Marymount Manhattan College. Under President Shaver’s leadership, the College has achieved academic progress and distinction, has made significant capital improvements, has strengthened its financial standing, and has increased the number of full-time faculty.

  • 2002

    Marsha A. Hewitt, Esq. ’67 (English) joins the Board of Trustees and serves the College until 2006. In 2004, the College renames the MMC Gallery the Hewitt Gallery of Art to honor Marsha and her husband, Carl, for their long history of supporting the College.

  • 2003

    The Mezzanine is renamed the Regina Peruggi Room after the former president of the College.

  • 2003

    Judith M. Carson ’03 (art history) joins the Board of Trustees shortly after graduating from MMC. She went on to Chair This is the Day, the most successful fundraising campaign in MMC’s history, which raised $37 million in support of the College. She is an arts educator and founder of Learning to Look. She received the President’s Medal in 2005.

  • 2004

    The College opens the 71st Street entrance to its campus.

  • 2004

    Anne C. Flannery, Esq. ’73 (urban studies) joins the Board of Trustees, and is the first alumna to serve as the Chair of the Board (from 2006 to 2009). She is a partner of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP. Determined to provide opportunities for students, she founded a scholarship that supports MMC students every year. She was a 2010 President’s Medal honoree.

  • 2004

    Kathleen LeBesco, Ph.D., Distinguished Chair and associate dean for Academic Affairs, receives Teaching Excellence Award.

  • 2004

    Virginia “Ginger” Lyons de Neufville ’70 (urban studies) joins the Board of Trustees. She is the Executive Director of the Mount Auburn Cambridge Independent Practice Association (MACIPA). She was honored with the President’s Medal in 2010.

  • 2005

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Senator of New York, receives an honorary degree

     

  • 2005

    The College receives its largest gift ever when Judith M. Carson ’03 and her husband, Russell, make a $5 million unrestricted gift, the catalyst that launched This is the Day, the Campaign for Marymount Manhattan. An anonymous donor matched the Carson’s gift with $5 million.

  • 2005

    The Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust makes a $1 million gift to support the construction of the Lowerre Family Terrace.

  • 2006

    Hope D. Knight ’85 (business management) joins the Board of Trustees. Ms. Knight is the COO of the nonprofit Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. She was elected Vice Chair and Chair Designate of MMC’s Board of Trustees in May 2011. Ms. Knight was a 2010 President’s Medal honoree.

  • 2007

    Valerie Rowe, a friend and patron of Marymount Manhattan, matches gifts to the Bedford Hills College Program endowment up to $1 million.

  • 2007

    Susan Behrens, Ph.D., Distinguished Chair and professor of communication sciences and disorders, receives Teaching Excellence Award.

  • 2008

    The Office of Student Development and Activities launches the Emerging Leaders program for first-year students to teach, expand, and strengthen students’ leadership skills. Through hands-on workshops, peer mentorships, service learning and research, the program assists students who seek to develop the skills needed to excel as successful student leaders.

  • 2008

    Conservationist and author Richard West Sellars visits MMC as the Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

  • 2008

    The Lowerre Family Terrace, the first major facilities investment of This is the Day, the Campaign for Marymount Manhattan, is unveiled in recognition of a generous gift from alumnus Paul Lowerre ’81 and his wife, Ursula. The 5,000-square-foot quad features a water wall, a heated trellis and garden areas, and connects the third floors of the Main and Nugent buildings.

  • 2009

    Paul C. Lowerre ’81 (political science) joins the Board of Trustees. He is currently a Senior Vice President of Investments at UBS Financial Services, Inc., in New York City. He received the President’s Medal in 2011.

  • 2009

    MMC Celebrates its 60th Commencement on May 22.

  • 2009

    MMC’s Black Box Theatre is named in honor of Professor Emeritus J. William Bordeau, who passed away July 25, 2009.

  • 2009

    MMC opens The Commons, a 5,000-square foot dining facility and student lounge located at the heart of the 71st Street campus.

  • 2009

    Justice Sallie Manzanet-Daniels ’85 (psychology) is appointed to the Appellate Division, First Department, making her the first Latina justice in the history of New York State to serve on this Court.

  • 2009

    President’s Medal Gala honors Rabbi Philip Hiat, religious advisor, friend to MMC and Scholar in Residence at Central Synagogue in New York City.

  • 2010

    Marymount Manhattan surpasses its $25 million This is the Day goal by approximately $12 million and secures a $1.5 million matching grant from The Kresge Foundation.

  • 2010

    MMC dance department receives its first National Endowment for the Arts grant.

  • 2010

    The College names the Dow Zanghi Student Health Center, located on the first floor of the 55th Street Residence Hall, in honor of Trustee Lucille Zanghi and James Dow P’11. Zanghi received the President’s Medal in 2010.

  • 2011

    Twelve new faculty members join the MMC faculty, resulting in the largest cohort of full-time faculty in the College’s history at 105 members.

  • 2011

    The College hosts its first Christmas Celebration with the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, an event honoring the RSHM and their founding mission to educate a socially and economically diverse student body, which remains one of the College’s highest priorities today.

  • 2012

    MMC launches the Barry Commoner Environmental Lecture Series, featuring environmental journalist Andrew C. Revkin, with a gift from Richard S. Berry and his wife, Lucy A. Commoner, the daughter of Barry Commoner.

  • 2012

    Construction begins on the newly acquired faculty center yet to be named, located at 255 East 71st Street.

  • 2012

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream marks the 122nd Theatre Production Workshop production at Marymount Manhattan since its first production of Waiting for Godot in 1975.

  • 2012

    Three MMC students earn Jeannette K. Watson Fellowships, joining the 14 students at Marymount Manhattan who have received this honor over the past 13 years.

  • 2012

    Peter Baker, who began teaching at MMC in September 1962, is the longest-serving faculty and staff member of Marymount Manhattan College after 50 years of service. A recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award, Peter has been a teacher of philosophy, initiator of the freshman writing program, initial Director of Academic Advising and Assistant Director for 10 years, Chair of the Division of Sciences for 15 years, acting Chief Academic Officer in 1970 and again in 1998 to 1999, chief elected officer of the faculty (the Clerk of the faculty) on numerous occasions between 1969 and 1998, and Vice President for Institutional Research and Planning.