In an effort to expand its horizons, Marymount College has opened its new Waterfront Campus just a few miles down the hill from its headquarters in Rancho Palos Verdes.

About 150 juniors and seniors from the four bachelor’s degree programs launched in 2011 recently started attending classes at the new campus, located on the ground level of the former Northrop Grumman building at the corner of Sixth and Palos Verdes Streets, walking distance from the Port of Los Angeles.

The new campus is part of the 20-year plan submitted by college officials to the cities of Los Angeles and Rancho Palos Verdes, where the college has sometimes faced resistance to expansion.

The expansion, however, was welcomed by local officials during a Jan. 11 grand opening celebration that captured the essence and benefits that the outside educational entity will have over the port city, known as one of Southern California’s leading arts destinations.

“With this change has come growth,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa remarked. “The extension of this learning community to San Pedro will boost the area’s economy and it will enrich its culture.”

Also present at the celebration were Congresswoman Janice Hahn; Betsy Cheek, president of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce; Stephen Robbins, executive director of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District; Peter Rothe, from San Pedro’s Arts & Academic Alliance; Dr. Michael Brophy, Marymount College president; and Burt Arnold, Marymount board of trustees chairman. Paulist Father Mark Villano, Marymount chaplain, blessed the new campus. 

Villaraigosa highlighted Marymount’s contribution in serving a fast-growing diverse student population from around the country and the world. More than 25 percent are Hispanics and about 71 percent of the student body receives financial aid, he said.

“These are institutions that nurture the future, that develop leaders not just in the economic development component, but in the training and value-building,” said the mayor.

The college will provide upper division coursework in liberal arts, media studies, business and psychology. The latter is the newest bachelor’s degree program awaiting the approval of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the regional organization that accredits public and private schools, colleges and universities in the U.S.

The new campus displays state-of-the-art technology in the classrooms, with ergonomic and easy-to-move furniture to accommodate more students.

Up to 1,000 students will be served, according to officials. This August Marymount plans to open another location, just blocks away from the new campus, which will house the school’s arts programs. The Chuck and Marylyn Klaus Center for the Arts was donated and named for longtime college supporters. 

The Warner Grand Theatre and the Grand Annex also offer space for the college’s Jazz Ensemble, theatrical productions, concerts, speakers and other cultural arts opportunities for the community. Students can also exhibit and participate in juried arts and media shows in the Arcade Gallery, located on the same street in downtown San Pedro.

“This is so much about how great downtown San Pedro is and will be in the future,” said Hahn, who described the new campus as a “great sign and message” that the port city is a place to relocate and invest.

Cheek, of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce told participants, “You are our future and you are here with your artistic and spiritual influence.”

Seniors Wendy Pineda, Ashley Cooper and Christina Petitfils are among the students benefiting from the new facility.

“Here we’re closer to businesses, and closer to potential job connections,” said Pineda, a Gardena resident majoring in liberal arts with emphasis in global studies. “It’s also an easier commute.”

“This building is more upscale,” added Cooper, also a liberal arts student.

Petitfils, a liberal arts major with emphasis in psychology and global studies, underscored the closeness to the port and interaction with different cultures. 

Since the early 20th century, Sicilians, Croatians, Latinos and, in recent years, a growing Filipino community have settled in San Pedro due to its proximity to the port, resembling their fishing hometowns. Their traditions and cultural influences are also reflected in the city’s Catholic parishes, Mary Star of the Sea, St. Peter and Holy Trinity.

Indeed, San Pedro is no stranger to Marymount students, who do thousands of hours of volunteer work with Boys and Girls Club and other local agencies. It reflects the college’s mission to “serve others so that all may have life,” instituted by Marymount’s founding order, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary Sisters.

Every February, faculty and staff have an all-day service as a way to get acquainted with its residents. Faculty are encouraged to bring “service learning” into the classroom, by partnering with agencies in the community as part of their curriculum.

Included in the college’s speaker series, Father Villano told The Tidings, will be three events addressing topics concerning Catholicism and the relationship between religion, state and politics, all of which could have a broader appeal to the San Pedro community.

“The college is so grateful to be welcomed in San Pedro and to continue our work as a Catholic college that has a great purpose of urban education and renewal,” said president Brophy. “This is not Palos Verdes, so we’re changing, we’re adapting our growth.”

For more information about Marymount College, visit or call (310) 377-5501.

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