Marymount’s Dr. Rosemary Hubbard Retires After 50 Years

Having finished her Ph.D. at Georgetown University, Dr. Rosemary Hubbard interviewed with Marymount University’s then president, Sister M. Majella Berg, RSHM. Hubbard planned to teach for a few years while figuring out her path as a marine biologist.    

“During my interview, Sister Majella told me our goal was to help each individual student reach their potential,” Hubbard said. “From then on I understood the importance of a teacher’s role in helping each individual achieve that.”
That was in 1968, when Marymount was a two-year Catholic school for women. Over the next 50 years, Hubbard helped thousands of Saints reach their potential, serving as a professor, advisor, faculty chair, dean and friend.
“I became so involved with teaching that I never left,” said Hubbard, who called herself a frustrated marine biologist. “But there’s no ocean at Marymount!” she noted with a laugh.
She taught general biology, anatomy and physiology, endocrinology, life chemistry and senior seminar. By his count, Dr. Todd Rimkus, professor and chair of the Department of Biology and Physical Sciences, said 10,988 students were in her classrooms over the years.
“That is a lot of teaching,” Rimkus said. “Over the years, I cannot tell you how many times I would see collections of students meeting with Rosemary, mostly nursing students. She would not just spend five minutes with the group. This would be an hour or more and many semesters it was every week.”
If the need arose, he said any regional hospital she might visit would likely have a well-prepared Marymount University nurse who would go out of his or her way to help Hubbard.

During Hubbard’s time on campus, Marymount has grown into a comprehensive, coeducational university serving approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students.
“The transitions were very smooth because they were all well-planned,” she said. “When we went coed, there weren’t a lot of bumps in the road. It was a very natural change.”
She remembered Sister Majella as “very quiet but very strong.” And she praised outgoing President Matthew Shank for always being accessible to both students and faculty.
“We’ve been very fortunate over the years, with the changes and the leadership,” she said. “The big thing is that the president has never been separated from the faculty, and that’s really important. They were never just somebody you passed by and didn’t know. They also knew a lot of students and got a lot of feedback about how things were going.”
A big change from the early years is that Marymount is now a much more diverse place.
“Early on at different times we had students from South America, but now we have a real mix from many different countries,” she said. During the past academic year students came from more than 70 countries and 39 states.
“We also have a lot of first generation students whose parents were immigrants,” she said. “They are very motivated and great to work with and everyone gets along.”
She also said Marymount students are now more financially diverse than in the past, when student loans and aid were not as readily available. It’s also more religiously diverse, though one thing that hasn’t changed is Marymount’s Catholic identity.
“Everyone could always see what we stand for,” she said. “We have a goal and we have a mission and we’ve always made that clear.”

The ‘recidivist dean’
Dr. Liane Summerfield, professor and director of Marymount’s Health Education and Promotion Graduate Program, has known Hubbard for 38 years.
“Although Rosemary and I did not teach in the same school, we ate lunch together frequently and served on many of the same committees,” said Summerfield. “She always does her homework and comes to committee meetings totally prepared; she’s a great listener; and she respects others’ ideas.  As a friend, she’s lots of fun to hang around with! She truly embodies the notion of a ‘colleague’ — helpful, caring, available, encouraging.”
Hubbard served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 1990 to 2000, then returned to the faculty. She said being an administrator was a very different job, with longer hours but she was glad to have done it.
“The faculty was really supportive and cooperative,” she said. “I learned a lot about the faculty and it was a very positive experience.”
Five years ago she served as interim dean of the Malek School of Health Professions for six months.
“It was a totally different school, but that worked out all right,” she said. “I was able to run it without feeling I was just sitting there. We kept things moving.”
A few years later she filled in as interim dean of Arts and Sciences.
“They called me the recidivist dean,” she said.
“Because Rosemary has served in so many roles and because she’s been one of those people who steps up and serves on committees or task forces or whatever else is needed, she has had a tremendous impact on Marymount students, faculty, staff, programs and services,” Summerfield said. “She has been a wonderful mentor to faculty and students, particularly women in science. She has fostered collaboration between faculty and students in the different schools — who else could have been supported as interim dean of a school in which she didn’t teach and wasn’t tenured?”

Close-knit faculty    
Hubbard has been granted the title professor emerita of biology, effective Aug. 20. She said she will miss the daily interaction with her Marymount family, but plans to return often. The faculty is very close, she said, and in the early days was even closer.
“We had free parking, a free hour at lunch and free lunch,” she said. “We all ate together and the faculty really bonded. The younger faculty, when we had kids, our kids all knew each other.”
Hubbard has three adult children, all born while she was at Marymount.
“In those days there was no leave,” she said. “I had my first child in August and went back to teach when the semester started.”
More faculty members lived in Arlington then, before the area grew drastically and real estate prices soared. Before downsizing to a condominium in McLean, she lived in Arlington for more than 40 years, which made it easy to go home for a few hours and come back for a variety of campus activities.
“It was such a good group to work with,” she said. “Never once in all my years there did I think, ‘I don’t want to go to work.’ I’ll miss the people, and just knowing everyone on campus. There’s always someone you can talk to and always someone you can help. But I’ll still be engaged with Marymount, especially my department.”

Marymount University is an independent, coeducational Catholic university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a wide range of disciplines. For more information, visit

Photo captions
Photo 1
Dr. Rosemary Hubbard carrying the mace of Marymount at this year’s Recognition & Awards Day during commencement weekend. She has retired after 50 years of service to the University.

Photo 2
Dr. Rosemary Hubbard in the 1970s.

Photo 3
Dr. Hubbard taught general biology, anatomy and physiology, endocrinology, life chemistry and senior seminar.

Photo 4
Marymount’s third president, Sister M. Majella Berg, RSHM, taught Hubbard that every student had potential and their mission was to help them reach that potential.

Photo 5
Dr. Hubbard served twice as the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and for a six-month period, as dean of the Malek School of Health Professions.