In 1940, the first buildings of Barry College were blessed by Bishop Barry. These included Cor Jesu Chapel, a gift of Mrs. Margaret Brady Farrell, Calaroga Hall (now LaVoie), the classroom-administration unit, Angelicus (now Adrian Hall), and two residence halls, Rosa Mystica (now Kelley House) and Maris Stella (now Farrell House). During the presidency of Mother Mary Gerald Barry (1940-1961), most of the existing campus buildings were completed. In 1946 Stella Matutina (now Weber House) opened and additions to Adrian Hall were completed.

With the dual responsibilities of Mother General of the Adrian Dominican community and the Presidency of Barry College, Mother Mary Gerald Barry was not in residence at Barry College. The day to day operation of the College was in the capable hands of Sister Gonzaga Greene, Vice President and Business Manager from 1939 to 1946 and Sister DeLellis Rafftry, Academic Dean from 1940 to 1946. These women were responsible for the on-site building of the college; Sister Gonzaga for the supervision of the construction of the physical plant and, Sister DeLellis for the development of the quality academic programs.

The decade of the 1950's brought considerable change to the campus. A science unit and temporary library were added to the Adrian Hall complex in 1950 and the Fine Arts Quadrangle, dedicated in 1955, brought music and art studios, lecture rooms and an auditorium to the campus. The changes that occurred during this time were not limited to the completion of new buildings. In 1953 the nursing program was instituted and in 1954 graduate degree programs were initiated. With the beginning of graduate study, degree-seeking male students were enrolled at Barry for the first time. Further additions to the campus came with the purchase of the Villa in 1956. Mother Gerald Barry's presidency ended with her death in 1961. The following year saw the dedication of Regina Mundi (now Dalton House) and Regina Caeli (now Dunspaugh House) and Thompson Hall.

With the election of Mother Genevieve Weber to the position of Mother General of the Adrian Dominican Community, she also assumed the presidency of Barry College. During her brief term as President (1962-63), Mother Genevieve separated the duties of the presidency from those of Mother General and Sister M. Dorothy Browne was named President in 1963.

As the first President in residence, Sister M. Dorothy Browne (1963-1974) established the School of Social Work in 1966.  Sister Dorothy was not a stranger to the campus in that she served as academic dean from 1946 to 1957 and guided a development program that saw the creation of the nursing program in 1953 and the graduate degree programs in 1954.  Two excellent additions to the campus physical plant were completed during her tenure as President with the opening of the Monsignor William Barry Memorial Library in 1967 and the Wiegand Center in 1970.

In 1974 Sister M. Trinita Flood assumed the presidency of the college, having served as a faculty member and administrator at Barry for eighteen years. During her presidency the college was reorganized into six instructional units, The School of Arts & Sciences, The School of Business, The School of Education, The Division of Nursing, and the School of Social Work. The Continuing Education Department was established in 1974, became The School of Adult and Continuing Education in 1982.

The University became officially co-educational in 1975 with male students admitted to all majors and for the first time, residing on campus. 

Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin was inaugurated as Barry's fifth president during the Founders Day Weekend celebration held in November 1981. Sister Jeanne came to Barry after serving as Executive Assistant to the President of St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri. In conjunction with Sister Jeanne's inauguration, the institution changed its status and became Barry University.  After 23 years of service as Barry University's president, Sr. Jeanne O'Laughlin retired from the presidency, although she remains involved with Barry as Chancellor.

Sr. Linda Bevilacqua was inaugurated as Barry’s sixth president on November 12, 2004.  Sister Linda graduated from Barry in 1962 and went on to serve as Dean of Students (1970-78), first Dean of the School of Adult and Continuing Education at Barry (1982-86) and came back to Barry as President in 2004, after serving as President of Gwynedd-Mercy College.  She retired as President of Barry University in June, 2019 after serving for 15 years.

Michael S. Allen, Ph.D., serves as the University’s seventh president. Dr. Allen, assumed the role of president on July 1, 2019, after serving as vice president for student affairs at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.,

Dr. Allen became the first man and lay person to lead Barry University since its founding in 1940. A seasoned higher education administrator with more than 25 years of experience, Dr. Allen has a deep commitment and proven track record of contributing to students' development, well-being and success.  

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