Skip to Main Content

Marymount College - Fordham University: Home

A brief history of MaryMount College


Marymount College was established by Mother Marie Joseph Butler. Born Johanna Butler in County Kilkenny, Ireland, she entered the order of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary and served in the congregation’s schools in Portugal before coming to the United States.

In December 1907, Mother Butler (accompanied by Mother Gerard Phelan and a few other nuns) came to Tarrytown with the intention of establishing a boarding and day school for young women. The school opened in February 1908 with six students studying a high school level and by 1918 the school expanded to an advanced two year degree..

Mother Butler and Mother Gerard were working toward becoming a four-year college awarding baccalaureate degrees. A provisional college charter was granted in 1919. The college charter became permanent in 1924, the first year that Marymount granted baccalaureate degrees.

The highest enrollment in Marymount's history, approximately 1,100 students, was reached in the early 1970s. During this time, in response to a changing educational climate and introduction of the federal Title IX legislation, there was serious consideration of the possibility of Marymount becoming co-educational. However, after deliberation of the idea, a Long-Range Planning Committee concluded that Marymount’s mission should remain that of providing quality undergraduate education to women only.

Marymount remained a pioneer of new ideas when it introduced the Weekend College in 1975. This program offered adults, most of whom were employed full-time, the opportunity to pursue a college degree through weekend classes. In 1976, Fordham University began offering graduate-level programs in social work, education and business on property near the Marymount campus (owned by the R.S.H.M.), but this had no effect on the independent status of either institution.

In 1997, Marymount celebrated the 90th anniversary of its founding with a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, made extra special since the Mass was composed and sung by alumna Donna Cribari.

In 2000, faced with declining enrollment and the increasing financial burdens experienced by many small liberal arts colleges during this time, Marymount sought assistance through a merger with Fordham University. Marymount and Fordham had many ties over the years.

The Agreement of Consolidation was announced in December, 2000, and Fordham declared its intentions to continue to operate Marymount as an undergraduate women’s college for as long as it was “academically and financially feasible” to do so. With Fordham’s assistance, many of the campus facilities were updated or re-furbished, and a task force was formed to review the operating costs of the College and make recommendations for future plans. After several years, the results of the task force review indicated that the College was experiencing such financial difficulties that it could no longer be sustained. In October 2005, after months of deliberation, the decision was made by Fordham to close the Marymount campus in June 2007 and to merge any remaining students into Fordham’s degree programs.

The Class of 2007 was the last to receive a degree from Marymount College. However, the legacy lives on as the 10,000 alumnae who attended Marymount make their mark on the world, taking with them the quality education, strength of character and religious ideals of those who dedicated their lives to the development of Marymount College, Tarrytown.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Gabriella DiMeglio
Rose Hill Campus
Walsh Library
4th Floor