Barbara Busse

Message from the President
Nov. 7, 2023
Dear LMU Community:

I am saddened to share that Barbara Busse, former dean of LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts, special assistant to the president, and LMU’s first associate academic vice president, passed away on Nov. 3, 2023. She was 77 years old.

Throughout her nearly four decades at LMU, Dean Busse was responsible for the remarkable growth in size and reputation of CFA, and she was a model of service to the university. She joined the Marymount College faculty in 1969 during the affiliation years and remained until 1973. She returned to LMU in 1980 as an administrator.

During her time as dean from 2002 to 2012, Dean Busse advanced the interests of the college and university, collaborating with faculty, staff, and donors to develop a vision for CFA and position it for future development. Working with the CFA Advisory Council and with the support of our advancement colleagues, Dean Busse assured CFA’s vitality with expanded scholarship endowments, funding for studio arts equipment, an enhanced Visiting Artist and Lecturer Series, and an Emerging Artist Series. She also secured funding for Arts Pro Bono initiatives, including ARTsmart, the Urban Arts Interns program, DANCEsmart, the Summer Arts Workshop for Dolores Mission School, and support for the Helen B. Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic.

Through Dean Busse’s leadership, CFA added academic programming and exceptional co-curricular programs, including some of the university’s most externally well-known assets: the Laband Art Gallery, the LMU Choral Music program, Sinatra Opera Workshop, the LMU Guitar and Masterclass Series, the World Music Program, and the internationally competitive LMU Debate Team. Academic programs evolved in concert with the promotion of justice when Dean Busse initiated Arts Pro Bono, which provided opportunities for faculty, student, and alumni artists and art therapists to serve external communities. She also mentored Damien High School students, impacting many young lives, and ran the summer debate institute for high school students with her spouse, Jay Busse, retired associate professor of Communication Studies and competition-winning debate coach, who passed away in 2019.

Dean Busse served as chair and academic coordinator for Communication Studies, Art and Art History, Theatre Arts, and Dance. Consistently active in shared governance, she was among five faculty who initiated the LMU Faculty Senate and, prior to that, served as one of five faculty advisors to the president. Dean Busse’s service on mission-related and social justice committees included coordinator of the Undergraduate Student Body Task Force for the Commission on the Future of LMU; one of two coordinators for the University Planning Council; co-chair of LMU’s first Multicultural Affairs Committee; chair of an early Core Review Committee; and was LMU’s first Sexual Harassment Compliance Advisor. She was named Teacher of the Year by her students, Woman of the Year by California Women in Higher Education, won a HERstory Award for Administrative Excellence, and was honored by a resolution in the California State Assembly for her excellence in debate education.

Beyond LMU, Dean Busse was involved with the California Province of Jesuits Mission and Vision Committee and served on the Board of Dolores Mission School. A sought-after speaker, Dean Busse delivered one of the two keynote addresses at the California Province of Jesuits’ centennial celebration in 2009.

Dean Busse retired in 2015 as special assistant to the president, where she developed local, regional, and international mission and ministry outreach programs.

She earned her B.A. in rhetoric, argumentation, and debate at California State University, Fullerton, and her M.A. at Cal State Northridge.

A funeral Mass will be held Dec. 9 at Dolores Mission Church, 171 South Gless Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Dolores Mission School.

Please keep Barbara, her five children (four of whom are LMU alumni), her former students and colleagues, and her many friends in your thoughts and prayers.


Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D.