Tarrytown, N.Y. (October 6, 2005) — After two years of study by two task forces, the Fordham University Board of Trustees decided today to phase out the operations of Marymount College, concluding in June 2007. No new students will be admitted to the College.
“Despite the very best efforts of the faculty, administration and staff, it is no longer academically or financially feasible to continue to operate Marymount College as a separate school within the University,” said John N. Tognino, chairman of the Fordham University Board of Trustees. “This was a very difficult decision because we knew how deeply our students valued the supportive environment of an all-women’s college and how many alumnae have flourished and excelled because of the strengths they developed at Marymount.”
Most of the 798 Marymount students will finish their education at the 25-acre Tarrytown, N.Y., campus, which, in recognition of the College’s history and heritage, will permanently be known as the Marymount Campus of Fordham University. The Westchester division of Fordham College of Liberal Studies, already housed at the campus, will continue and expand its liberal arts program. Over time, the professional school programs in business administration, social service and education will move their Westchester operations to the Marymount Campus.
The Board emphasized that Marymount juniors and seniors who will graduate by spring 2007 will complete their degrees at Marymount College, while freshmen and sophomores will complete their degrees in programs offered at one of the other four undergraduate colleges of Fordham University.
“We are especially aware of the concerns of the students in our charge,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University. “We will counsel them one by one and do our utmost to nurture their personal and intellectual growth as they complete their undergraduate education here at Fordham.”
In an effort to preserve Marymount College, which like many small liberal arts women’s colleges had been struggling with enrollment and financial hardships for two decades, the Trustee Boards of Marymount College and Fordham University agreed in December 2000 to consolidate the two institutions. Their agreement anticipated that the Catholic women’s College could gain academic parity and financial stability with the other undergraduate colleges of Fordham, a Jesuit university.
Fordham rigorously restructured the College’s debt, provided infusions of capital and staff resources, subsidized tuition to maintain a rate lower than the University’s other colleges, enhanced academic and student life programming and implemented aggressive recruitment strategies. Nevertheless, the College continues to struggle to maintain a balanced budget. More troubling, the Board Task Force noted, is that almost half of the freshman class (45 percent) chooses not to return in their sophomore year to complete their studies at Marymount College.
“The students themselves have been sending a clear signal to the University that this new educational model we hoped to achieve, that of a small Catholic women’s college thriving within the context of a larger university, is not working,” said Tognino.
Over the same period of time, Fordham has become more selective, raised SAT scores, increased fund-raising from alumni and research grants, and experienced undergraduate student retention rates approaching 90 percent.
In delivering the news of the Board’s decision to the Marymount faculty, Father McShane said, “I am so grateful to the faculty, to the staff and to the administration who have worked diligently to sustain Marymount’s mission. You can be justly proud of your work educating and empowering women in a college so well loved by students and alumnae alike.”
He went on to praise the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (R.S.H.M.), the Catholic order that founded the College in 1907, whose spirit “forever hallows every hall of the campus,” for their devotion to the students and alumnae of the College.
Marymount College alumnae, numbering 9,700, will “always be valued as part of the worldwide Fordham alumni family,” Father McShane said, “and, we hope the alumnae will continue to consider Fordham University their home.”
Programming that keeps the graduates of the College in touch with their sister alumnae and incorporates them further into the Fordham community will continue with the guidance of the Marymount College Alumnae Board of Directors.
The Marymount College endowment, which is currently valued at $6.05 million, will continue faithfully to be administered. The University will maintain a strong interest in applying the endowment to assist women students who demonstrate financial need.
The decision to phase out operations at Marymount College will not result in the immediate loss of jobs. Before operations cease in June 2007, those holding staff positions that are no longer required will have the opportunity to apply for other jobs at the University. Career counseling and out-placement services will also be provided. The University will work closely with the American Association of University Professors to address the needs of the Marymount faculty they represent.
Addressing the Westchester community, Tognino said, “We want to assure our neighbors that access to public lectures, our adult education program and recreational facilities will be unchanged.”
Marymount College of Fordham University in Tarrytown, N.Y., is independent of other schools bearing the Marymount name.