As the last decade of the century opened, Marymount continued to expand its physical plant with the 1992 purchase of the Ballston Center. At the same time, the University acquired a piece of land at the intersection of 26th Street, Old Dominion Drive, and Yorktown Boulevard, to serve as a surface parking lot; no one at the time could have visualized that this unassuming space would one day be the site of Marymount’s “Miracle on 26th Street.”
Sister Eymard Gallagher, RSHM, assumed the presidency in 1993 and immediately focused her efforts on two of Marymount’s hallmarks: ethics and leadership. The University’s Center for Ethical Concerns was established to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas on critical ethical issues. The early ’90s also saw the inception of Marymount’s Distinguished Visiting Professor Colloquium Series, which has brought such luminaries as Warren Buffett, J. William Fulbright, Fred Smith, Vinton Cerf, and Cokie Roberts to campus.
Ethics and leadership were not merely concepts for students to hear about, but realities for them to experience first-hand. Vincent Stovall, director of student activities, came to Marymount in 1992 and was charged with creating programs that would give students opportunities to participate more fully in the life of the University.
He recalls his first impressions: “There were a lot of different populations on campus – residents, commuters, graduate students. My office soon created the Activities Programming Board, to give students the opportunity to take the lead in creating events and activities that would address the needs and interests of this diverse community.”
Stovall remembers, “Our first big success was the 1992 Mad Hatter Dance. The buzz had spread all over campus, and more than 500 students from Marymount and other Consortium schools attended. It was really a great event, but more than that, it was our first big push to get students involved in planning and executing major campus activities.”
Throughout the ’90s, the Office of Student Activities worked to ensure an active and enriching campus-life experience. Stovall explains, “It was about bringing fun to campus, but it was also about providing opportunities for leadership and responsibility. We encourage our students to ‘Dream Big,’ but tell them that they have to make their dreams reality. I always say, ‘This is leadership experience. You learn here, you can make a mistake here, and all of this will serve you well in the real world.’”
That is exactly the experience that James Carbo, Class of 1997, had at Marymount. He recalls, “As Student Government president, I worked with the administration and students to improve communication on campus. We started the Marymount ‘Town Halls’ that still exist today.”
Carbo continues, “What I remember most is my time as an admissions ambassador. I was just 19, and here I was, representing Marymount University by giving tours. I had to make it interesting for the kids, answer questions from the parents, and in general, be friendly and welcoming. I enjoyed it, but I also viewed it as a serious responsibility.”
He says, “The skills I developed back then have helped me in the business world. I’m confident when meeting new clients – and I’ve met corporate CEOs and ambassadors in my work. The leadership opportunities I had at Marymount were invaluable. Though some of what I learned was intangible, those skills are always with me.”