By DANIEL OFFNER
For Manhattanville College alum Catherine Flynn “Cappy” Devlin, the walk through Heritage Hall inside Reid Castle gave her the opportunity to reminisce about her alma mater, her travels, her education, her business and how exactly 60 years ago she and her mother traveled out to Purchase for the college’s groundbreaking ceremony.
“Here it is… Manhattanville,” Devlin said as she recalled a time when she was 10 years old. “It was a stunning occasion.”
Students view the history of the college in Heritage Hall, which maps the beginnings of the institution as a Catholic boarding school for girls to the relocation of the school in 1952. Photos/Daniel Offner
Later, she attended the college. Split between choosing a major in English or math, Devlin decided to focus on business and economics. Devlin graduated Manhattanville in 1962 and now resides in Mount Kisco, where she has gone on to become the president and CEO of her own travel business, Cappy’s Travel Center.
“Manhattanville has always been pushing to innovate the classroom and tackle social issues that stay with all their students,” Devlin said, “both now and 60 years ago.”
In celebration of 60 years at their Purchase campus, Manhattanville College officials unveiled phase I of their project to renovate Heritage Hall. On Oct. 26, administrators, alumni, elected officials, students and faculty gathered outside the historic hallway for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting event.
But for former Manhattanville president and college alum Elizabeth McCormick (Class of ’44), who took the reins as the college transitioned from an all-girls institution to a nationally ranked coeducational liberal arts college, the event was more than about a heightened pride of alumni: it was about school spirit.
“It’s so easy to say what’s different,” said McCormick, now 90. “But what hasn’t changed are the spirit and the values, which have remained just what they were when the college was founded.”
Gripping a pair of large red scissors, McCormick, alongside current Manhattanville President Jon Strauss, cut the ribbon and opened the historic hallway to the crowd of over 100 people. The new Heritage Hall maps the history of the institution from a Catholic boarding school for girls to the relocation of the school in 1952. Panels lined the walls much like an art exhibition, giving students, administrators and alumni a chance to reconnect with the history of the college.
Former Manhattanville College President Elizabeth McCormick addresses the crowd Oct. 26 at the Heritage Hall groundbreaking ceremony.
Manhattanville Director of Brand Management Tun Aung stated that the layout was designed internally through a committee comprised of students, administrators, faculty and staff members in order to make the retelling of history more interactive.
“We leveraged the existing space to make it more functional,” Aung said. “It’s a traditional exhibition with today’s technology.”
According Aung, the renovations won’t require any kind of major construction, but will include the installation of more modern technology including monitors and podcasts. The first phase is expected to be complete before the start of the spring semester.
To Manhattanville archivist Lauren Ziarko, having a permanent collection hanging along the walls of Heritage Hall is a dream come true. Working as the college archivist for the last four years, Ziarko views herself as the caretaker of the institution’s history and the impact it has made over the last 60 years.
“The history of the campus is the history of change… a micro history of America,” Ziarko said. “It’s a retelling of the greater American narrative.”
During the ceremony, President Strauss referred to his wife as the “lynch pin” of the project. Jean Strauss, who had put the idea in motion because of her love for the history of the school, became most inspired by a photograph of Robert F. Kennedy walking through the hall.
“We are surrounded by such a proud and rich history,” Strauss said. “The museum exhibit is beyond what we expected and we hope you will all come back and see it when it’s done.”