History of Barry University

1940s and 50s: Hard work, sacrifice and a touch of ‘hilarity'

Miami was tranquil that warm September when Barry students returned for the second year, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 shattered that tranquility. The war brought fear and uncertainty, along with shortages and rationing, to the campus and the country. But the Sisters at Barry forged ahead with their work. In fact, the Sisters, working in the lab in Adrian Hall, would sometimes become so engrossed in their work that they would forget to close the curtains on the windows facing NE Second Avenue. This lapse would not have created a problem during peace time. However, after the United States entered World War II on December 8, 1941, the law required that blackout curtains be installed on every window in every building on campus. So when the dedicated sisters forgot three nights in a row, the chief of police appeared and, according to Sister Rita Cecile's taped memoirs, threatened to arrest them if they did not shut the curtains.


Growth was steady in the years following World War II, and by 1950, the student population numbered 290 and was comprised of young women from 20 states and eight foreign countries including Formosa, China, Japan, Germany and Iran. In 1953, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program was established and four years later, the charter class of 19 nurses received their degrees. In 1954, a graduate department was opened with courses leading to the Master of Arts degree with major in English as well as Master of Arts or Science degrees with a major in education.

On the less serious side, a highlight of the 1958 school year was the visit of comic Bob Hope, who received the honorary degree, Doctor of Hilaritatis.