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Stevenson Villager

Stevenson celebrates 70 years

Stevenson celebrates 70 years

Stevenson University, a formerly Catholic, two-year institution for women, will turn 70 years old on October 1. A glimpse through Stevenson history as recounted on the university’s website offers memories for The Villager’s readers.

Villa Julie College was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at “Seven Oaks,” an 80-acre estate in the Greenspring Valley.  Julie Billiart Hall, pictured, was named after Sister Julie Billiart, the college’s namesake. (Photo from Stevenson University website)

Stevenson, known as Villa Julie Junior College and Medical Secretarial School during its storied past, was founded by the Sisters of the Notre Dame de Namur in 1947. Seven decades later, Stevenson is a sprawling two-campus institution with 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students, 27 Division III athletic programs, and a network of 17,768 alumni, according to a university update given at the spring 2017 Alumni Association Board meeting.

Villa Julie College officially became a co-educational institution with the admission of male students on a full-time basis in 1972. Previously, male students attended the college on a part-time basis for several years.

In 1988, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredited Villa Julie College as a four-year college. The following year, the “Million Dollar Campaign” raised $1 million over the span of six months for student scholarships.

Kitty Lynch, Elaine Lucas, and Mary Ellen Jones work on an accounting spreadsheet, 1959. (Photo from Stevenson University website)

Villa Julie made the shift to become a residential campus in 1993 when off-campus student housing opened at Wooded Way, located in Pikesville, Md., and now home to a Comfort Inn. The housing complex’s name became Stevenson’s own as one of the university’s current residence halls and Career Services building.

Construction on the Greenspring campus marked the beginning of Villa Julie’s Golden Anniversary in 1997. A new academic center, now the Dawson Center, Theatre, and Art Gallery, opened for student use in August 1997. The Student Union, now the Manuszak Center, and the gymnasium followed three months later, opening in November 1997. Both the Manuszak and Dawson Centers were renamed in 2008 to honor past University President Carolyn Manuszak and Vice President and Dean of Students Rose Dawson for their more than 30 years of service to the college before they retired.

Carol Grabowski of VJC’s paralegal program interned at a law firm. Villa Julie College added a degree in paralegal studies in 1984. (Photo from Stevenson University website)

Villa Julie revealed plans to build a second campus on Owings Mills Boulevard in 2003. The plans included construction of garden-style apartments and a community center that opened for students in fall 2004. The first phase of college-owned housing accommodated more than 540 students.

The most monumental phase in this expansion came when the college agreed to purchase the former Baltimore Ravens Training facility from the City of Baltimore. The facility, now known as Caves Sports and Wellness Center, was originally built in the late 1970s for the Baltimore Colts. A men’s lacrosse game on April 9, 2005 marked the first official contest at the facility.

Villa Julie’s athletic programs were accepted into the NCAA Division III in 1994. The lacrosse team quickly reached high levels of competition within DIII programs. (Photo from Stevenson University website)

Over the next four years, the Owings Mills campus opened three suite-style residence halls, the Rockland Center, a gymnasium, another residence hall, and the Brown School of Business and Leadership.

On June 11, 2008, Villa Julie College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the name of the institution, unveiling the name Stevenson University to the media on June 12. In March 2009, President Kevin J. Manning approved a University Restructuring Plan, effectively creating a six-school structure headed by deans: the School of Design, the School of Education, the School of Sciences, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of Business and Leadership, and the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. The seventh academic school, the School of Nursing and Health Professions, was added in March 2016.

On September 10, 2011, playing in double overtime, SU’s football team won 46-43 over Christopher Newport University in the first game in Mustang Stadium. A sellout crowd of 3,500 fans witnessed the first victory in program history. (Photo from Stevenson University website)

Seven decades, the creation of seven academic schools, and seven university presidents later, Stevenson University is continuing its growth path with the recent purchase of the 117-acre Rosewood Property where students, faculty, staff, and friends will soon enjoy athletic fields and additional housing. From humble beginnings to national recognition–what has transcended over time is Stevenson’s commitment to quality education, integrity, community, and excellence.

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Stevenson celebrates 70 years