Lynn will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend (March 21-24). And Lynn University’s archivist, Kathleen Clunan, has been with the university since its founding days. As a nun in the religious order of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Clunan was sent with a group of sisters to open Marymount College, a two-year liberal arts junior college for women in Boca Raton, Fla. On June 9, 1962, the sisters broke ground. Fifty years later, Clunan is still with the university and she continues to work in the Lynn Library.
Clunan and the sisters of the religious order are often described as progressive – a trait that today's Lynn University still adheres to by being innovators in the field of higher education with programs including Lynn’s core curriculum, the Dialogues of Learning.
The first class arrives
Despite issues with alligators, walking catfish and snakes, on Sept. 22, 1963, Marymount opened its doors to 96 female students from both northeastern and mid-western states, in addition to students from Latin America, Spain and Italy. “We had an international student body from the very beginning,” Clunan said.
From Marymount to the College of Boca Raton
In 1971 efforts to boost enrollment at Marymount College failed and the Board of Trustees announced the College would close in May of 1972. Donald E. Ross, founder and president of Wilmington College in Delaware, saw the potential in Marymount during a trip to the Boca campus to purchase their library holdings. Following the negotiations, Ross was named president of the college in 1971.
“Those first years after Donald Ross became president were lean ones. Everyone made sacrifices to conserve,” said Clunan.
In 1974, Marymount’s name changed to the College of Boca Raton, and recruiting resulted in a soaring enrollment of more than 800 students from the United States and 30 foreign countries.
Today’s Lynn University
In 1991, the College of Boca Raton was renamed Lynn University to reflect its increasingly global nature and the growth of its programs, and to honor the Lynn family, longtime donors.
Clunan, who is the only Lynn employee to have been with the university since its founding, remembers the university’s trying history and has seen its amazing success.