Part-time graduate study for the working population was a new trend in higher education at the start of the 1980s. Marymount’s initial foray into graduate programs proved successful, and the curriculum quickly expanded to include more graduate options in business, education, and nursing. These programs heralded another major change at Marymount – the admission of men on a large scale.
Professor of Business Art Meiners recalls how the M.B.A. led the way in Marymount’s development as a comprehensive university. He says, “We were in the right place at the right time. There was a demand for part-time graduate study in the evenings, especially among the military, and we worked hard to meet that demand.”
Meiners continues, “We ran two classes per night, going until 10:30 p.m., and we had to forage for classrooms. There was no Ballston Center then, so we met in churches, at the Pentagon, and even the basement of the Tysons Corner Mall! Honestly, it worked out well because some of these alternate locations were very convenient for the students.”
Vice Admiral William Burke, M.B.A. ’85, now U.S. Navy Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Readiness and Logistics, confirms this assertion. Burke recalls, “I was a junior officer, in my first Pentagon assignment.
I wanted to earn an M.B.A., so I went to the Pentagon Education Center to see what was available; remember, this was pre-Internet! I saw that Marymount held evening classes at the Pentagon and on its Main Campus, and that fit the bill. The hardest part was the classes on campus, because I lived in Springfield at the time and used the bus to get home. Not always easy at 10:30 at night!”
Burke says that his M.B.A., completed by the time his Pentagon tour was over, has helped him in earning promotions and in developing a financial management subspecialty within the Navy.
Dr. Theresa Cappello ’82, M.S.N. ’84, now serves as dean of the School of Health Professions. She notes, “Marymount’s Nursing programs evolved to stay abreast of what was happening in the profession and what was needed in the region. The M.S.N. in Nursing Administration was launched in 1982. Following that, several more graduate nursing programs were introduced, including the M.S.N. in Nursing Education and the very successful M.S.N. in Family Nurse Practitioner.”
While building graduate-study options, Marymount also added new undergraduate majors. And the student body continued to evolve. Joann Cochran, who earned her B.A. in Interior Design in 1985, was a non-traditional age commuter student. She explains, “At a certain age, I decided to go to college. I wanted a four-year degree and had thought that I might get some life credits, but my advisor, Dr. [Robert] Draghi, convinced me that I would be better off taking the full curriculum.”
Cochran adds, “He was right! I value my Interior Design degree, but I really have to say that what I remember most is Sister DeSales Boran’s freshman Civilization class. Sister DeSales was tough, but very supportive of non-traditional students.”
By 1986, Marymount College of Virginia was thriving as a fully coeducational institution offering a diverse array of undergraduate and graduate programs. That year, the institution changed its name to Marymount University.