Join Club

Marymount approves plan to eliminate some majors, despite some pushback

Marymount University students protest the decision to remove nearly a dozen majors (courtesy photos)

(Updated at 8 p.m.) Despite protest from some students, faculty and alumni, Marymount University will be removing some majors, mostly in the humanities, from its catalogues.

On Friday, the Board of Trustees voted 20-0 to move forward with the plan, university spokesman Nick Munson said. He asserted that the change was faculty-led and administration-supported and the eliminated majors were “no longer serving Marymount students.”

“The impacted majors are rarely selected by Marymount students and, in fact, have only graduated a handful of students in the past decade,” said spokesman Nick Munson, noting that 74 students have declared majors that will soon be cut. “This decision reflects not only our students’ needs, but our responsibility to prepare them for the fulfilling, in-demand careers of the future.”

Ahead of the unanimous vote, some faculty, students and alumni decried the decision and tried to prevent it. Earlier in this process, a majority of faculty in the faculty council voted in favor of a different proposal that would see two programs cut and course consolidations to others to save some money. Students and alumni sent President Irma Becerra letters and two demonstrations were held.

They are still planning demonstrations, with a third set for tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.

Marymount University demonstration flier (courtesy photo)

Marymount says it is making these changes to improve its finances and cut programs with low enrollment.

Two recent signs of rocky finances include assessments by Forbes and Moody’s Investors Service, according to a joint letter from Marymount alumni.

“In the 2022 Forbes College Financial Grades, Marymount University was bestowed a financial grade of ‘D’ — the lowest grade on Forbes’ scale — with a financial GPA of 1.39,” the letter said.

Moody’s downgraded the university’s issuer and debt ratings to B1 and Ba3, due to a combination of factors, including “very high financial leverage with thin operating results, declining liquidity, debt structure risks inclusive of a project financing currently subsidized by the university, and a highly competitive student market.”

The alumni used these two points to argue that Marymount’s decision will “bring instability to the institution during a time that requires much needed stability.”

But Moody’s downgraded school ratings still seem warm to the programmatic changes the school is making.

“New financial leadership is deliberately focused on realigning student programming, right sizing expenses and enhancing revenue,” Moody’s said.

Marymount provided numbers breaking down how many students are majoring in the fields headed to the chopping block.

  • B.A. Art (10)
  • B.A. Economics (13)
  • B.A. English (15)
  • B.A. History (15)
  • B.S. Mathematics (6)
  • B.A. Philosophy (3)
  • B.A. Secondary Education (0, though this was not a primary major)
  • B.A. Sociology (8)
  • B.A. Theology & Religious Studies (0)
  • M.A. English & Humanities (4)

“These programs are simply not ones that are in demand,” Munson said. “However, we will continue to provide a strong liberal arts core and offer classes in the subjects above.”

Students will still be required to study these subject areas as part of the school’s core curriculum, and Marymount will continue offering a more general bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies.

“Marymount will always be dedicated to the education of the whole person,” Munson said. “Every one of these foundational subjects remain part of our core curriculum, which supports our mission and Catholic identity.”

Alumni say this won’t achieve the same outcome.

“It would… erode — not strengthen — our intellectual community, which must be multidisciplinary to ensure students are prepared for the challenges and opportunities they will face in our present and future world,” the letter said.

Budget materials shared with ARLnow show the school forecast lower tuition revenue this fiscal year from in-person undergraduate and graduate students, but higher revenue for students in online programs.

Last fall, per the presentation slides, Marymount was staring down a budget deficit of $3.5 million.

Those opposed to the cuts argued that the moves would not realize much savings, given that most faculty would have to remain on staff to teach the core curriculum. They instead pushed for the school to focus more on growing its fundraising take.

Tax documents indicate Marymount’s net income in recent years has generally ranged between $1 million to $5 million per year, with losses in some fiscal years (available figures run through mid-2021). In recent years, donations swung between $2.5 million to $5.7 million.

Recent Stories

After several years of relatively meager winters, could this upcoming season have a big snowstorm on tap for us? There’s some early suggestion of an elevated chance of large coastal…

Morning Notes

Free Pantry Being Removed — “After more than three years, a food pantry in Arlington County is closing and food-insecure families who take advantage of it say they only received…

ARLnow Daily Debrief for Sep 28, 2023

Good Thursday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…

A look at the smallest and largest homes sold in Arlington last month, August 2023.

At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!

At all of our events, we provide free onsite child care for the children of the teen parents we serve, creating a nurturing environment for the kiddos while their parents learn valuable life skills and build community.

If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit to learn more.

Submit your own Announcement here.

Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.

Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.

The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.

Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Rosslyn Fall Fest

Join the Rosslyn BID for Fall Fest on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 1-6 p.m. at Gateway Park! Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshment at our hard cider tastings and cash bar, want a bite to eat from the

The Backyard: After-School Kids Club

Join us at Church of the Covenant on Military Road every other Wednesday afternoon from 4:00-5:30pm beginning on October 18th for The Backyard: After-School Kids Club. Cost is free! The program will provide recreation, snacks, Bible stories, and other fun


Subscribe to our mailing list