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Marymount starts thinking about its upcoming 75th anniversary

University president touches on number of topics in remarks to Kiwanis Club of Arlington
Marymount University president Irma Becerra speaks to the Kiwanis Club of Arlington.

As Marymount University gears up to turn 75 years old . . .

Wait, let’s do that again.

“We’re about to become 75 years young,” university president Irma Becerra said during a gathering of the Kiwanis Club of Arlington at the university’s main Arlington campus on Oct. 11.

The clock is running, but there’s still some time for all the anniversary pieces to come together.

Marymount was founded in 1950 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary order of Roman Catholic nuns. Beginning life as a two-year women’s college, it has grown over the years to full-fledged university status, granting degrees up to and including the doctoral level.

How far along is the planning for 75th-anniversary events? Things are moving in the right direction, one top university official said.

“It’s in process – stay tuned,” said Dennis Slon, the university’s vice president for advancement.

“We’re still looking for volunteers” to help work out plans, Becerra said.

In a Q&A session, the university president was asked how big Marymount might grow from its current 4,300 students.

“We would love to get to the 8,000-to-10,000 range,” she said. “We need to grow.”

But there are both practical and philosophical limits to where enrollment will end up.

“We can’t be tiny; we don’t want to be large,” said Becerra, who six years ago was recruited from a university in South Florida to succeed Matthew Shank as president.

Current low teacher-student ratios can increase (to a degree) without losing what Becerra termed the university’s “secret sauce”: personalized instruction that keeps those enrolled focused on the task at hand.

“We want students to get a four-year degree in four years – not four-and-a-half, not six, not seven,” she said of the undergraduate experience.

Earning a degree is an accomplishment every student entering an institution of higher education – and the institutions themselves – should strive for, Becerra said.

“One thing that I learned from my grandmother is, what no one can take away from you is your education,” she said.