|Donald P. Merrifield S.J.|
|1st President of Loyola Marymount University|
|Term||1973 – 1984|
|Successor||James N. Loughran, S.J.|
|11th President of Loyola University
|Term||1969 – 1973|
|Predecessor||Charles S. Cassassa, S.J.|
|Born||November 14, 1928
Los Angeles, California
|Died||February 25, 2010 (aged 81)
San Jose, California
|Alma mater||California Institute of Technology
University of Notre Dame
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Donald Paul Merrifield, S.J., (November 14, 1928 - February 25, 2010) was a American Jesuit who served as both the 11th and last president of the former Loyola College, and the first president of Loyola Marymount University upon its creation in 1973. Merrifield remained the president of Loyola Marymount University, which was created by the merger of Loyola University and Marymount College, until 1984. Under Merrifield, Loyola Marymount went through a period of rapid expansion in which thirteen new buildings were constructed on the main campus.
Merrifield was born in Los Angeles on November 14, 1928. He graduated from Inglewood High School. Merrifield received his bachelor's degree in physics from California Institute of Technology in 1950.
He taught physics at the University of San Francisco, Santa Clara University and the former Loyola University before becoming president of Loyola in 1969. He also worked as a consultant at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California from 1962 until 1969.
Merrifield was appointed as the 11th, and final, President of the former Loyola University in 1969. Instead of elebaorate inauguration celebrations, Merriefield asked that celebrations be kept simple so extra funds could be spent on minority scholarships. A strong advocate for interfaith relations, Merrifield had Rabbi Alfred Wolf give the invocation at his inauguration.
In 1973, Loyola University and nearby Marymount College were merged to form the new Loyola Marymount University. Merrifield, who was already president of Loyola University, was chosen as Loyola Marymount's first president. Under Merrifield, thirteen new buildings were constructed on Loyola Marymount's campus, which is located in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles. The thirteen buildings constructed during Merrifield's tenure as president include the Von der Ahe Communication Arts Building, the George Page Baseball Stadium, Doolan Hall, Gersten Pavilion, Burns Fine Art Center, the Laband Art Gallery, the Leavey Faculty Center and the Loyola Apartments.
Merrifield also oversaw the expansion of Loyola Law School's campus in Pico-Union, near downtown Los Angeles. Merrifield and the university commissioned internationally-known architect Frank Gehry to design the new campus, which was needed to accommodate increased enrollment.
He also emphasized increased minority enrollment in the university's admissions process through scholarhsips, recruitment drives and financial aid. Loyola Marymount added Latino and African American studies programs to its curriculum during his time in office. Merrifield also helped to form the Loyola Marymount Mexican American Alumni Association in 1981.
Merrifield stepped down as president of Loyola Marymount in 1984 and was succeeded by James N. Loughran, S.J. However, he remained at the university as the chancellor of LMU from 1984 until 2002.
Father Merrifield was assigned to the Jesuit community in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2003. While living in Hawaii Merrifield worked with Oahu's Hispanic population, a prison ministry, and the Catholic community in the Mānoa-Punahou area. He continued to be actively involved in university and student life in Hawaii. He served on the board of governors for Chaminade University of Honolulu. He also became involved with the Newman Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he led retreats for students.
Merrifield provided breakfast for dozens of homeless at Ala Moana Beach Park twice a week, using his own money. The breakfasts gradually became known as "Fr. Don's Kitchen," inspiring Honolulu area parishes, namely St. Pius X and Sacred Heart, to offer breakfasts to approximately 360 homeless people at parks around the city.
He moved to an assisted living facility in for elderly Jesuits in Los Gatos, California in 2008. Father Merrifield died from a heart attack at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, California, on February 25, 2010, at the age of 81. He was survived by his brother, Peter Merrifield, of Honolulu.