Orientation 2015 ~ Celebrating a Century of Students

Jul 10, 2015

Sister Anne joins Student Orientation leaders for a selfie as the entire campus welcomes new students during Orientation Weekend.

I am delighted to have this opportunity to welcome all of you to Marywood University and to our New Student Orientation 2015. First, I’d like to thank everyone involved in preparing these special days of new beginnings. Let’s ask all of the Marywood University students and staff, whose hard work has made this experience possible, to please stand—or just wave if you are already standing. I want to especially thank Kelly Lynn and Ryan Kozich, the student co-chairs of Orientation Weekend.

Thank you for the energy, enthusiasm, and dedication that you have invested in this weekend in order to welcome your newest classmates. Ladies and Gentlemen, let us give all of these outstanding students and staff a hearty round of applause.

Class of 2019, I welcome you and your families with a joyful heart! Each of you has chosen to become a part of Marywood, and now Marywood will become part of who you are, remaining with you, even when your days on this campus are just a cherished memory.

This weekend’s theme—A Century of Students—celebrates 100 years of students saying “yes” to the Marywood mission and core values…100 years of academic excellence…100 years of turning dreams into deeds. Each one of you is an heir to this outstanding, century-long legacy, and I thank you for saying “yes” to Marywood. Ours is a marvelous history, with humble beginnings. As we stand at the gateway of our second century, it’s good to reflect on how things were and how things have changed.

Marywood began in two rooms of the former Motherhouse and was the first Catholic college for women in Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1915 by the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the IHM Congregation still sponsors Marywood. It’s also worth noting, that all of our presidents during Marywood’s century of existence have been IHM Sisters.

Marywood’s first President, Mother M. Germaine O’Neill IHM, drew up and distributed the first catalog. In this wonderful publication, everything is detailed for the Marywood student, from wardrobe and general regulations to curriculum and costs. I am sure your packing list looks quite different, but, back in 1915, students were required to wear “gowns with a proper amount of fullness in the skirt, and with sleeves and neck of a becoming fashion.” Students were also advised to bring a “table service, consisting of knife, fork, soup spoon, tea and fruit spoons, fruit knife, and table napkins and ring.” Do we even own such things as fruit spoons and knives these days? I assure you that Chartwells, our dining services provider, has more than enough dining utensils for everyone, so cross that off your list!

Expenses per five-month term consisted of board, tuition, and gymnasium work, for $125, and a laundry fee of $10. If you desired a private room, you needed to put forth an additional $20. Students pursuing studies in music or art were assessed additional fees—I guess some things do remain the same! Students attending Day College—what we would call Commuter Students—were assessed a tuition fee of $20 per term and a dinner fee of $20 per term. All students paid a library fee of $2, a laboratory fee of $5, and a graduation fee of $15. Records for student accounts were kept in a meticulous, beautifully handwritten ledger maintained by the Treasurer of the College, who, at the time, was also the President. I honestly can’t imagine doing that these days, and I am glad it’s not required of me!

That first catalog declared Marywood’s primary mission as the formation of “young women of deep Christian principles, and of power, who shall go forth to live for the betterment of the social conditions of their own little world, and eventually for the social elevation of mankind.”

That little world did not stay small for very long. What you’ll find at Marywood is that we’ve never had smallness of vision. In the span of the next 50 years, Marywood grew to become the largest Catholic college for women in the nation. Then, in 1990, even though men had been attending classes for quite some time, Marywood became fully coeducational, and male students began living on campus. In 1997, Marywood transitioned from college to university status. Today, in 2015, we stand upon a century of excellence and progress.

We’ve grown from two small rooms to 30 campus facilities. We no longer require our students to bring a full table service with them, however, electronic tablets and notebooks are highly encouraged. You’ll especially want to use those items in our newest facility, the Learning Commons, which I am sure you’ve noticed in the center of our campus. It will be ready for use when you arrive on campus in August, and we will hold our Centennial Celebration and the dedication of the Learning Commons—which you are all welcome to attend—on September 8, 2015, exactly 100 years to the day of Marywood’s founding. Yours will be the first class to enjoy this extraordinary facility for the full length of your college career at Marywood.

Our former library, the Learning Resources Center, which served us well from 1968 till June 7th of this year, will be razed between after Christmas to make room for a beautiful outdoor amphitheater behind the Learning Commons.

This beautiful, open space will be the perfect setting for musical or theatrical performances, art exhibits, or simply taking in the natural setting for which Marywood has been so renowned. In fact, this campus has been a national arboretum since 1997. With all of the construction dust and mud we’ve endured for the past year or so, it may be hard to envision it, but I assure you that there are greater, greener things to come!

The area in front of the Learning Commons is being transformed into the Motherhouse and Seminary Memorial Garden. Remember when I said that Marywood began in two rooms of the Motherhouse? You may have wondered, “What Motherhouse? I don’t see one.” For those who may not be as familiar with our history, I will just briefly tell you that the magnificent building where Marywood began was tragically destroyed by fire on February 22, 1971. To rebuild such a grand, turn-of-the-century edifice was simply impossible and cost prohibitive. In the mid-1970s, a Memorial Commons was built and stood as the center of our campus for many years. Sometimes, professors held outdoor classes in that location. Several Commencements were held there in the late 1970s. Students often congregated on the Commons to relax, study, or enjoy social events.

Now, that space is being transformed again—a tribute to our past and a nod to our future. Just as our students in 1915 saw the Motherhouse as the very center of life and learning, and those students from the 1970s, up until about two years ago, looked to the Memorial Commons as a center point and a gathering space, our students, now and going forward, will see the Learning Commons and the Motherhouse and Seminary Memorial Garden, along with the amphitheater, as the intellectual and social heart of our campus.

It will become for you, the Class of 2019, and all of the classes to follow you, as iconic as the Motherhouse and the Memorial Commons once were to generations of Marywood students. It is sacred space—space that is being transformed once more into a place of life and learning, a place of connection and empowerment, a place to dream big and to realize even greater things. Our Learning Commons is only one of 20 such facilities throughout the country, so we are indeed blessed by the opportunities it will afford our students, now and in the future.

Empowering learners is as vital to our mission now as it was in 1915. We are still preparing students for the future in versatile ways and with a variety of skill sets.

At Marywood, you will realize all of your gifts, as you learn, research, and collaborate with others. Technology is important in these pursuits, but so too is the social dynamic. You will find excellent mentoring opportunities here; collaborative learning exchanges will be front and center, as you develop into a citizen of the world. Our community is very strong—you will make it even stronger.

This is an incredible moment, where the past meets the future. Albert Einstein once noted, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” This university was founded on the bold vision, dreams, and imagination of the IHM Sisters; it continues, because you have brought your own personal visions, dreams, and imagination to our campus…and we are here to help you realize your full potential.

Members of the Class of 2019, I am so glad that you are here; I welcome you to be part of Marywood’s continuing story—all that Marywood is and will become.