Marymount California University Eyes Visalia

Visalia may soon get a four-year university.

The Marymount California University campus in Palos Verdes.
The Marymount California University campus in Palos Verdes.

Marymount California University, a Catholic institution offering bachelor’s degrees in business, liberal arts, media studies and psychology, as well as a master’s of science degree in business administration, is considering Visalia as the site of its next campus. The university has locations in Palos Verdes and San Pedro in Los Angeles County, and Lucerne in Lake County in northern California.

“We will be the fourth campus,” said Robert Aguilar, Ed.D., a former Delano school district superintendent and the main proponent of a Visalia campus. “We’re in the beginning stages of forming this university in Visalia.”

Dr. Michael S. Brophy, president of Marymount California University met Aguilar at a Latino Leadership and Policy Summit hosted by the university in the spring. “He invited me to Visalia,” said Brophy, who accepted the invitation and discussed the university with community leaders at a luncheon in Visalia on October 23.

“We’re always excited and supportive to get a university here so people can get a higher education locally,” said Visalia City Manager Mike Olmos, who attended the luncheon. “The city was very supportive of Fresno Pacific, and of Fresno State as they got their satellite university at COS.”

“I was certainly impressed by the passion of civic leaders,” said Brophy, who added that College of the Sequoias does “a super job.”

Brophy said that the process of bringing a university here has “a long way to go, but we are happy to consider Visalia.”

Aguilar is working hard to land Marymount. “We have plans to begin a study to get feedback about what kind of campus is needed here,” he said. “This research study will take six to nine months to complete. We want to make sure we have a case to bring a university to Visalia.

“Our target is the 16-17 schoolyear,” he continued. “We’re serious about it. It definitely will be a full-time, fully accredited college.”

As for the size of the campus, Aguilar believes that “it will be larger than just one building.” He also envisions it having a field for sports teams.

Aguilar made a presentation to the Catholic Professional and Business Club of Tulare-Kings. “It was almost unanimous when we asked if you support a four-year university.”

Three or four classes may be offered this summer, according to Aguilar, “just so the word gets out that we’re a campus. We’re working to get a site.”

“I think it’s too early to say what will happen in Visalia,” said Brophy, who also said that Marymount California University is not currently considering any other locations for new campuses. He noted that the Lake County campus opened “just last summer. We really had no plans for further expansion until Dr. Aguilar contacted me.”

Lake County officials and city leaders, along with the school districts, chambers of commerce and community-minded not-for-profits worked together to bring the Marymount campus to their area.

“Their folks came together and made a compelling case to our board of trustees,” said Brophy. “They were able to present us with a 75,000-square-foot facility.” He added that the university was also offered “a friendly lease of $1 a year.”

That information was presented to community leaders in Tulare County.

“I definitely shared with them the case study of what happened in northern California,” said Brophy. “There was some interest. There was a lot of passion for providing space.”

“They have not asked for any city help,” said Olmos. “They have gotten considerable support from the private sector.”

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