Marymount president affirms ambitious growth plan

With Marymount University’s 70th anniversary just a flip of the calendar away, the institution’s president says it’s time to up both its game and its public persona.
“We do have a lot of competitors – we are competing for the same students,” Irma Becerra said during remarks on Nov. 20. “Part of my role is to explain how Marymount is different. We want to move into national recognition and international recognition.”
Becerra spoke at the annual luncheon of the Inter-Service Club Council of Arlington. Her remarks came as she approached the 18-month point in her tenure, having arrived on campus from a university in Florida in mid-2018.
One of the things she aims to focus on is public awareness.
“We have been very modest,” said Becerra, Marymount’s eighth president. “We don’t want to be modest any more. We are very much embedded in this community – very much in the fabric of Arlington and Northern Virginia.”
Marymount was founded in 1950 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary order of Roman Catholic nuns. For its first 50 years, the university presidents were drawn from the religious order, but its last three (James Bundschuh, Matthew Shank and Becerra) have been lay educators, albeit with backgrounds in Catholic education.
Since her arrival, Marymount has developed a strategic plan, designed to underpin its growth plans through 2024. The package calls for the student body to more than double to 10,000 students (undergraduate and graduate), promotion of alumni relations and creation a master plan for developing the various campuses.
“Our mission has not changed. Our vision is what’s changed,” Becerra said. “It’s important for Marymount to be among the elite organizations.”
Becerra is a native of Cuba who emigrated to the U.S. and earned degrees in electrical engineering before moving into campus management. While Marymount is the only institution of higher education with its main campus in Arlington, it is just one of a number of colleges and institutions that have a presence in the county.
“Arlington has become the land of opportunity, with all that is happening in education,” said Joe Lott, president of the Inter-Service Club Council.
Marymount opened with a two-year curriculum for women. It evolved into a four-year institution in 1973, added its first graduate-degree program in 1979 and became fully coeducational in 1986.

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