Olson Gift Positions MFT Program for Substantial Growth 

In Focus
Marriage & Family Therapy
By Amanda Mayotte ’15


Philanthropists Gerald and Audrey ’76 Olson have continued their generous support for Mount Mercy University with a $1 million gift to establish an endowed chair in the university’s marriage and family therapy (MFT) program. Randall R. Lyle, professor of MFT and Mount Mercy’s founding MFT program director, has accepted this inaugural honor.

An endowed position provides top scholars with dependable, perpetual sources of funding—allowing for cutting-edge teaching, research, and leadership, all of which attract exceptional students and nationwide recognition.

Randall R. Lyle was named the first endowed chair for the university’s marriage and family therapy (MFT) program.

“The Olsons’ extraordinary gift and longtime support demonstrate their generous spirit and confidence in Mount Mercy’s excellence,” says President Laurie Hamen. “We are grateful to the Olsons for their vision of a healthy community and their investment in Mount Mercy.”

Under Lyle’s oversight, Mount Mercy’s MFT program achieved success quickly—developing an impressive reputation and receiving national accreditation just five years after its launch. Mount Mercy offers the only accredited, practice-oriented, master’s-level MFT program of its kind in the state.

The Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic offers specialized training to student therapists, enabling them to provide high-quality services in a professional clinic under the guidance of licensed practitioners. This critical community asset sets the Mount Mercy MFT program apart.

With the Olsons’ most recent gift, Mount Mercy is well-positioned to expand its leadership in marriage and family therapy, and launch its first-ever doctoral program— an important objective of the university’s strategic plan. An accreditation visit took place Oct. 10, and program coordinators are eagerly awaiting the result.

“We are pleased with Mount Mercy’s accomplishments in this field and are excited to support the expanding MFT program,” Audrey says. “This program provides opportunities for graduate students to deliver much needed, low-cost mental health services to individuals, families, and veterans in the Cedar Rapids community that we hold so dear.”

“I am most grateful to the Olsons for their strong belief in our work, and am honored to be appointed the first Gerald and Audrey Olson Endowed Chair for Marriage and Family Therapy,” Lyle says. “I look forward to further serving our students and community, as well as gaining even more visibility for the MFT program.” ■

Learn more

Discover the excellence of Mount Mercy’s MFT Program and range of services available at the Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic.