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The Arboretum at Marywood University spans the university's scenic 115-acre campus.
The Merrywood grounds became an arboretum by the university's own declaration in 1975. It was named The Sister Maria Laurence Maher Arboretum in honor of one of Marywood's most avid environmental supporters, Sister Maria Laurence Maher, IHM, then Professor of Biological Sciences. At the time, there was a symbolic planting "to recognize the value of the woods of Marywood, both as a study area and aesthetically."
Pennsylvania Magazine has recognized Marywood's campus as the "Most Beautiful Religiously-Affiliated Campus in Pennsylvania." Tireless efforts to cultivate official arboretum status were maintained by the father/son team of John and Mark Burns, who respectively serve as Superintendent and Foreperson of Grounds.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Victory commemorates a memorable victory. Almost as soon as the University (then College) was opened in 1915, its future was gravely threatened. The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad announced a plan to extend its line on a proposed route that cut directly across the property. If the railroad was granted the right of eminent domain, plans for the school would cease and the value of the entire property would be greatly diminished. With the prayers of the religious community as moral support, the enterprising Superior of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation arranged a meeting with the Railroad officials. What she said and how she said it is unknown, but she single-handedly convinced the authorities to select an alternate route for their proposed extension. So close was this brush with disaster and so great the relief at escaping it that two supporters of the IHM Sisters decided to commemorate the triumph in physical form. The statue of Our Lady of Victory in its pavilion still stands today on the campus on the very spot where surveyors from the Railroad were seen making their preliminary calculations.
In 1996, the Science Department, with the assistance of John and Mark Burns, submitted a proposal aimed at capturing official, national recognition of the campus grounds as an arboretum. Marywood University was officially named an arboretum in 1997 and is a current member of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (AABGA). Since initially announcing Marywood University's official arboretum status, outside support has been received to fund this endeavor, including a grant from the Overlook Estate Foundation.
By encouraging others to conserve, to enjoy, and to learn about the environment, the Arboretum at Marywood University is a living example of responsible stewardship of the world in which we live. The Arboretum serves as both an aesthetic and scholarly resource for the community and aims to continue its vital role as a center of learning for the public through ongoing physical enhancement and program development.