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Marymount University, the first Catholic college to be established in Virginia, was founded in 1950. Through the years, it has grown from a two-year college for women into a comprehensive, coeducational Catholic university serving approximately 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students.

While much has changed since the early years as a result of greatly expanded programs and services, the university’s core values and mission have held steady.

Founding by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary

The name “Marymount” has long been associated with excellence in education. The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, founders of Marymount University, provide Marymount with a heritage, spirit, and tradition that date back all the way to the founding of the RSHM Order in Bézier, France, in 1849 by Father Pierre Jean Antoine Gailhac and the first RSHM member, Mother St. Jean. The learning institutions they began would evolve into a worldwide network of schools and colleges, including Marymount University. The roots of Marymount’s founding Congregation reflect a commitment to education and to serving those in need – a commitment that remains vital at Marymount today.

historical timeline


Marymount is initially founded as a girls’ high school. Classrooms are located in the fieldstone guest house of what had once been a private estate. Today, that guest house, now known as the Lodge, is home to Student Affairs Division offices.


Marymount Junior College is founded by Mother Gerard Phelan, RSHM, as a two-year women’s college at the suggestion of Bishop Peter L. Ireton of Richmond. It opens with 13 students.

The original property – which included a mansion (now Marymount’s Main House), stone guest house (the Lodge), and two cottages – was formerly the residence of Rear Admiral Presley M. Rixey, White House physician to Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

Sister Elizabeth Gallagher, RSHM, becomes Marymount’s first president, serving until 1955.

Sister Berchmans Walsh, RSHM, becomes Marymount's second president, serving until 1960.

The institution is incorporated as Marymount College of Virginia, an independent college governed by an autonomous board of directors.

Sister M. Majella Berg, RSHM, becomes Marymount’s third president, serving for 33 years.

Bishop John J. Russell dedicates Marymount’s first modern student residence, Gerard Phelan Hall. It’s a welcome addition as there is a waiting list for the small number of rooms in the existing residence halls.

Marymount High School closes.

Gerard Phelan Annex is developed.

Men are first admitted to the Nursing program.

Marymount becomes a senior college offering the bachelor’s degree in more than 20 fields.

Graduate programs leading to the master’s degree are added; many of these programs are coeducational.

The institution responds to its changing student profile by becoming coeducational at all levels and changing its name to Marymount University.

Marymount Junior School closes its doors.

Marymount’s Ballston Center is established.

Sister Eymard Gallagher, RSHM, becomes Marymount’s fourth president, serving until 2001.

Dr. James E. Bundschuh becomes Marymount’s fifth president and first lay leader, serving until 2011. He is then named President Emeritus.

Marymount offers its first doctoral degree, the clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Marymount opens its Reston Center, serving adult students primarily through evening and Saturday courses.

Marymount offers its second doctoral program, the clinical Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Marymount’s new residence hall, Rose Benté Lee Ostapenko Hall, opens in the fall, providing apartment-style living.

The new academic building for the sciences and health sciences, Caruthers Hall, opens for classes in January.

A statue of longtime Marymount president Sister M. Majella Berg, RSHM, is dedicated outside Caruthers Hall. Sisters of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary attend the ceremony.

Marymount University welcomes Dr. Matthew D. Shank as its sixth president.

The Ballston building is razed and construction begins on new facilities.

The opening of the new Ballston Center coincides with the first day of classes for the Fall semester.

Marymount launches a doctorate in cybersecurity designed for working professionals who will pursue applied research in the field.

Dr. Irma Becerra is named Marymount’s seventh president.