The Manuszak era

Villa Julie: She made private liberal arts college a success by tailoring courses to business' needs.

April 04, 1999

TALK ABOUT transformation. When Carolyn Manuszak in 1966 took over a tiny (100 medical-secretary students), two-year school founded by a religious order, no one knew if it would survive. Today, Villa Julie is a healthy, private four-year liberal arts college with more than 2,000 full-time students.

The credit belongs to Ms. Manuszak, a former nun who developed a unique objective for Villa Julie -- marry liberal arts to a curriculum driven by the job-skill demands of local businesses.

As a result, Villa Julie is a regional leader in highly marketable degrees in advanced information technology and visual communication arts. Ninety-nine percent of the Class of '98 found jobs or were admitted to graduate school within three months of receiving their VJC diplomas.

While Ms. Manuszak has sought to add courses in response to technology changes that affect the job market, she also has been a stickler for requiring Villa Julie students to take a wealth of liberal-arts courses -- philosophy, literature, art, religion.

She wanted graduates to be highly employable but also well-rounded individuals.

Now Villa Julie's longtime president has announced her retirement at the end of this semester. The college's dean, Rose Dawson, is also leaving. Change is in the air at the school, but that's nothing new in the Manuszak era.

Ms. Manuszak leaves behind an impressive campus expansion totaling $26 million in new buildings. The operating budget is in the black for the 33rd straight year. Business leaders are singing the school's virtues.

Ms. Manuszak's "little college in the valley" has thrived. Her successor would do well to follow her mission for Villa Julie: "Get there first, do it best, make it count in students' lives."

Pub Date: 4/04/99

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