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Lynn University celebrates 20 years

The world learned of Boca Raton’s Lynn University in January 2010 when four students and two faculty members were among the hundreds of thousands killed in Haiti’s earthquake.

This week, the university celebrates a more cheerful milestone: Its 20th anniversary as Lynn.

The school had opened in 1962 as a two-year women’s school named Marymount College, operated by nuns from the Religious Order of the Sacred Heart of Mary.

The school later went bankrupt and prepared to close. Students planned car washes and other events and even went door to door with soup cans and signs reading, “Save Our College.”

In 1971, Marymount got a visit from educator Donald Ross — no relation to Donald Alexander Ross, the first Lake Park resident killed in World War II and the man for whom the road in northern Palm Beach County is named.

Ross intended to buy the soon-to-be-defunct school’s library for his own program at Wilmington College in Delaware, a school he’d founded in 1967.

“I walked all over campus and could not believe how beautiful it was,” Ross told Lynn’s magazine in 2006.

Instead of buying up Marymount’s books, Ross persuaded Wilmington trustees to merge with Marymount and make it a coed college. By 1972, enrollment was up to 350.

In 1974 the school’s name was changed to the College of Boca Raton, but it wasn’t until nearly a decade later that it would begin offering four-year degrees.

In 1991 it would get its third name: Lynn.

In September 1991, the 1,000-student College of Boca Raton was renamed for philanthropist Eugene Lynn.

Palm Beach Post file photo provided by the Lynn family

Lynn (above, with his wife Christine) had become president of the Boca Raton-based Lynn Insurance Group in 1956. Over three decades, he and his wife, Christine, donated $3.5 million for a student dorm and put up the money for the Lynn Student Center, built in 1963. Eugene Lynn died in 1999.

Ross would run the school until 2006, when son Kevin took over.

Lynn now has about 1,660 undergraduates and about 450 graduate students. Its five colleges and two schools offer 34 majors. It’s become a leader in serving students with learning challenges.

Marymount College in Boca Raton became coed in the early 1970s. It is today’s Lynn University. (Photo courtesy of Lynn University)

Nuns at Marymount College (Photo courtesy of Lynn University)

Marymount campus in 1972. (Photo courtesy of Lynn University)

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg and Our history in photos September 22, 2011 at 9:03 am.

1 comment

One Reply

  1. Terry from Boca Sep 22nd 2011

    Marymount College was famous for turning out proper New England women at the time, and I met one of their Irish lassies back in ’65 or ’66, and we’ve been great friends ever since.

    And if she ever attempts to deny it, just ignore her, ok? :) )

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