History of Barry University

The founding of Barry College

Barry University, 1950

A hurricane lurking in the Atlantic failed to stop Barry College from opening its doors on September 13, 1940. More than 1,000 people visited the campus during the course of that weekend, marking the culmination of a dream long held by three of Barry’s founders – Mother Gerald Barry, OP, and her brothers, Bishop Patrick Barry and Monsignor William Barry.

As Superior General of the Adrian Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, Mother Gerald had been making annual visits to the Dominican convents in Florida since 1933 and was quick to notice that Florida had no institution of higher education for Catholic girls.

With the support of her brothers and John Graves Thompson, a young lawyer who later served as the Mayor of Miami Shores Village, the groundbreaking for Barry College for women was held January 2, 1940 on the 40-acre Miami Shores site, and on June 20, 1940 Bishop Barry blessed the first five buildings. Mother Gerald Barry was not only a co-founder of Barry College but in 1940 she also became its first president serving for more than 20 years.

Enrollment in the fall of 1940-41 was comprised of 21 freshmen, 16 sophomores and eight juniors. In addition to Florida, students came from Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.