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March 15, 2022, Miami, Florida – Barry University played an important role in the life of Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP. She graduated from Barry College in 1962 and returned to spend most of her ministry there.
She served as Chief Student Life Officer from 1969 to 1978, was the founding Dean of the School of Professional and Career Education (PACE) from 1982 to 1986, and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs. She returned in 2004 to begin her 15-year tenure as President of Barry University.
Now, after her 2019 retirement from the presidency, Sister Linda is again serving the institution she has loved for so many years. As Founding Director of the Adrian Dominican Institute for Mission and Leadership (ADIML), her role is to help the Barry community understand and appreciate the heritage of the Adrian Dominican Sisters – Barry’s founders and sponsors – and Barry’s identity as a Catholic institution. She also works to instill a sense of the University’s Mission and Core Commitments and to foster an informed and committed lay leadership among Barry University’s faculty and staff.
The Barry University Board of Trustees created the Institute in June 2019 in honor of Sister Linda and her five predecessors, all Adrian Dominican Sisters: Mother M. Gerald Barry, OP (1940-1961); Mother M. Genevieve Weber, OP (1962-1963); Sister Dorothy Browne, OP (1963-1974); Sister M. Trinita Flood, OP (1974-1981); and Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, OP (1981-2004).
“With the engagement of Barry’s committed faculty, staff, administrators, and students, I trust that we will diligently ensure continuous infusion of Barry’s Mission and Core Commitments – Knowledge and Truth, Inclusive Community, Social Justice, and Collaborative Service – into all aspects of the University’s life,” Sister Linda said.
While she will work toward very idealistic goals, Sister Linda’s initial responsibilities were very practical and down-to-Earth: to create the Institute’s physical space with the help of the University’s interior designer/decorator and a team of staff members. The goal, Sister Linda said, was to “ensure that the space would be warm and welcoming, that it would include the necessary physical and technological resources to support individual and collective study and dialogue.”
Sister Linda’s plans for the ministry were changed with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. She arrived at the Institute in January 2020 to set up her office and to take part in the official ribbon-cutting and blessing in late February. The next week – March 2-6, 2020 – was Spring Break.
“Within a week of returning, on March 13, the University closed completely,” Sister Linda recalled. “We all started working from home on the 16th and classes went virtual a week later. So, my hopes to showcase the new space, host in-person gatherings, conversations, and study groups went the way of COVID.”
Now that the Barry community is open to in-person gatherings, Sister Linda welcomes various groups into the Institute’s space. “There is no typical day,” she said. “I welcome each day as it comes.”
Sister Linda’s days are indeed varied. She met with members of the women’s volleyball team to discuss women in leadership, her life as a Barry undergraduate and ministerial experiences, and met with the new Dean of the Andreas School of Business. She participates in the orientation of new faculty and staff members, speaking about the Adrian Dominican Congregation and its influence on Barry University’s Mission and Core Commitments.
On the first Friday of nearly every month, Sister Linda participates in a virtual coffee hour planned by Adrian Dominican Associates from Barry University. Because of the Institute’s location, Sister Linda is in daily contact with staff and students in the Office of Mission Engagement. “I am happy to support their student-focused mission integration and initiatives,” she said.
Sister Linda said her long history with Barry University well equips her to respond to written requests for information on the founding of the University and to serve as a resource for the Office of Alumni Affairs as it plans special events. “Most recently, I contacted women who graduated in 1971 and 1972, when I was Dean of Students, to ascertain their willingness to attend a Barry-sponsored event to commemorate their Golden Anniversary.”
Her years of involvement with Barry University also allow Sister Linda to serve as a connector within the University and in the local community. “Because I know the Barry community and Miami, I am also a resource for making connections to people and organizations,” she said. “I know to whom I can share information about resources or opportunities for financial assistance to further Barry’s impact.”
With all of her activities, Sister Linda still has her eye on the ultimate purpose of the Institute. “Whatever we do, as individuals or as an educational community, to foster and endow Mission education and integration has the potential to transform the University and ourselves,” she said. “Doing so will help ensure that Barry’s identity as a Catholic, Dominican university perdures, even amid a flowing stream of challenges to our well-being.”