The College of St. Scholastica

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A brief history of The College of St. Scholastica

For an episodic, non-chronological look at the school's history, visit the Centennial History Journal.

The College of St. Scholastica owes its existence to the combining of two forces: Benedictine missionary zeal and the mushrooming settlement of Duluth. The school's origins date back to 1892, when Mother Scholastica Kerst and 28 Sisters arrived from St. Benedict's Academy in St. Joseph, Minnesota, to spearhead the establishment of a Benedictine mother-house and an academy in Duluth. Initially, both convent and school were quartered in Munger Terrace. Within three years, increasing enrollment required building a new facility at Third Avenue East and Third Street. Named Sacred Heart Institute, the high school continued to grow rapidly in size and prestige. Duluth's rapid expansion at the turn of the century led to a third move in 1909 - this time to The College of St. Scholastica's present location.

In response to the growing community's needs, the school expanded its course offerings in 1912 to include a junior college and changed its name to The College of St. Scholastica. The new college started with only six students, but it retained all of the traditions and many of the practices of the institute, which provided a continuity and stability lacking in many new institutions. That first year, 52 courses were offered in eight departments.

Academic excellence

Academic leadership and research were stressed early as an integral part of the College's commitment to Benedictine values. In 1924, the College became a four-year liberal arts institute with an enrollment of 68. The school's first baccalaureate degrees were granted in 1926. While emphasizing theology and liberal arts, the Benedictines strove to meet the vocational needs of immigrant populations as well as staffing requirements of their own hospitals and schools. The nursing department began granting baccalaureate degrees in 1928, and was granted membership in the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Nursing in 1935. St. Scholastica reached a milestone in 1931 when accreditation from the North Central Association brought it national recognition as a degree-granting institution.

In 1935, the College launched the first Medical Records (now known as Health Information Management) baccalaureate degree in the nation.  By 1942, programs had been added in Art, Music, Medical Technology, Business Education, Journalism, Speech, and Dietetics and student enrollment had swelled to more than 450. The nursing department was accredited by the National League of Nursing in 1960, becoming the second institution in Minnesota to be so recognized. By 1974, programs had been added in American Indian Studies, Physical Therapy, Media Studies, and Religious Education. The College was accredited for Master's-level programs by the North Central Association in 1987 and offered graduate degrees in nursing. Graduate programs in Education, Health Sciences and Business were added soon after.

Campus growth

Construction of the frontal administrative unit of Tower Hall began in 1927 and the five-story addition was completed in 1928. By 1938, St. Scholastica's growth was evident with the addition of Stanbrook Resident Hall, Rockhurst Auditorium, Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, the Library and two connecting cloisters. These buildings were later joined by Somers Hall (1964), the Science Center (1969), the Grove (1972) and Pines (1973) apartment complexes, and the Reif Recreation Center (1979). In 1986, the Chapel and Library exchanged places and two floors were added so that the current Library occupies the upper three floors. More student apartments were built, including Willow and Maple in 1989 and Birch in 1990. Tarry Hall, the Home Management House, and the Greenhouse were all demolished in 1991-92 with the Wintergreen Garage/Maintenance Building built on that location. An expansion adjacent to Tower Hall was built in 1993 for Mitchell Auditorium and a student union. A wing was added to Somers Hall that same year. A third floor was added to the Science Building in 1997. More student residence halls were built with Cedar in 2003 and Scanlon and Kerst in 2005. Two additions have been made to the Reif with the Wellness Center in 2004 and the Burns Wellness Commons in 2007.

Community involvement

St. Scholastica officially became co-educational in 1969. Its mission was further broadened in 1973 with the introduction of a graduate study program in education. Over the years, ties between St. Scholastica and the surrounding community steadily grew. WSCD-FM, a Minnesota Public Radio affiliate, began broadcasting from studios on campus in 1975. Five years later, the Benedictine Health Center opened up with 120 beds for skilled nursing care, adult day care, and child day care services. Growing unemployment on the Iron Range and a shift in the region's economic resource base during the early 1980s prompted the development of the ENCORE! Program to meet the needs of growing numbers of people returning to school to prepare for career changes. In 1980, St. Scholastica established a study center in Louisburgh, County Mayo, Ireland, to enable students to complete a quarter's liberal education course work while experiencing intercultural exchange, travel, self-reliance, and personal enrichment. There are now ten study abroad programs, some of which have a service learning component.

Currently the College offers more than forty undergraduate majors and pre-professional programs, twelve master's programs, and two doctoral programs. There is also an Accelerated Learning program, which offers courses in the evening. The 2010-11 enrollment stands at a record 3,898 - 2,856 undergraduate students and 1,042 graduate students. There are 161 full-time faculty. The College has five campuses in Minnesota located in Brainerd, Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, and St. Paul as well as offering many online courses to students throughout the world.