Saint Mary's College (Indiana)

Saint Mary's College

Seal of Saint Mary's College
Motto Spes unica (Latin)
Motto in English
Our only hope
Type Private liberal arts college
Women's college
Established 1844
Affiliation Roman Catholic
(Sisters of the Holy Cross)
Endowment US$133,171,000[1]
President Janice A. Cervelli
Academic staff
128 full-time
80 part-time
Undergraduates 1,628
Location Notre Dame, Indiana, USA
Coordinates: 41°42′24.28″N 86°15′25.31″W / 41.7067444°N 86.2570306°W / 41.7067444; -86.2570306
Campus Rural: 75 acres (0.30 km2)
Colors Blue and White          
Athletics NCAA Division IIIMIAA
Nickname Belles
Mascot Belle
Affiliations ACCU

Saint Mary's College is a four-year, Catholic, residential, women's liberal arts college located in Notre Dame, an unincorporated community north of the city of South Bend, in St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States—as are the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College. The name of the school refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Saint Mary's offers five bachelor's degrees and more than 30 major areas of study, such as business, nursing, art, chemistry, and social work. Additionally, Saint Mary's College offers two graduate degrees: a Master of Science and a Doctorate.[2] All programs that fall under the graduate degrees are co-educational and include a Master of Science in Data Science,[3] a Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology,[4] and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.[5] Founded in 1844 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary's College's mission is to educate students, develop their talents, and prepare them to make a difference in the world. Saint Mary's College ranks among the top 100 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges for 2015 as published by U.S. News & World Report. The college combines a strong liberal arts program with a spiritual foundation and a dedicated alumnae family. On February 17, 2016 the college announced Janice Cervelli as the President-elect.[6][7]


In 1843, four Sisters of the Holy Cross came from Le Mans, France, to share in the apostolate of education with the priests and brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, who had been sent by the bishop of Vincennes, Indiana to open a college in northern Indiana (Notre Dame du Lac or the University of Notre Dame). In 1844, the sisters opened their first school in Bertrand, Michigan, a few miles from Notre Dame; it was a boarding academy with pre-collegiate grades. In 1855 the school moved to its present site, first becoming St. Mary's Academy and eventually grew to become Saint Mary’s College.[8] The campus sits across the street (Indiana 933) from the university. Saint Mary's College was the first women's college in the Great Lakes region.

Today the school offers five bachelor's degrees and, beginning in 2015, two master's degrees (the master's programs are co-educational). There are approximately 18,000 living alumnae. Proposals to merge with University of Notre Dame (then a men's institution) in the early 1970s were rejected, and Notre Dame became coeducational on its own in 1972. Carol Ann Mooney is president, and has been since 2004.[9] She is the College’s first lay alumna president. The College resides within the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.


Special programs

Graduation rate

93% of Saint Mary's graduates earn a degree within four years. Saint Mary's current student population comprises more than 1500 women from 43 states and 5 foreign countries. Multicultural and international students represent 19% of the student body. Of the entering Class of 2017, 23% are member of historically underrepresented groups.

Financial aid

Over 95% of Saint Mary’s students received financial aid (from all sources) in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and work opportunities; Nearly 25% of Saint Mary’s operating budget is devoted to financial aid and to making a Saint Mary's education affordable.

Women's Choir

The Saint Mary's College Women's Choir, a select 40-voice ensemble under the direction of Nancy Menk, regularly commissions and performs new works for women's voices. In February 2005, the Choir appeared before the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Los Angeles, performing in the Wilshire Christian Church and the new Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Choir tours nationally every other year, and regularly performs with the University of Notre Dame Glee Club in joint performances of major works with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. In March 2011, the choir traveled to China to sing at colleges and universities in Shanghai, Nanjing, and Suzhou. They have appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall in 1999 and 2001, and returned there in November 2005 to perform music by Gwyneth Walker for women's voices and orchestra. The Women's Choir has recorded four compact discs on the ProOrgano label: Ave, Ave!, recorded in 1997, Amazing Day!, recorded in 2002, Anima Mea!, recorded in 2004 and Across the Bar, recorded in 2007.


The College, an National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III school, and a member of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, sponsors eight varsity teams: tennis, volleyball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, golf, softball and cross-country.[10]

Saint Mary’s women also may participate in the intramural program and/or clubs in a variety of sports. Its club sports program offers recreational opportunities through competition and instruction. The clubs are open to all Saint Mary's students, although membership requirements vary with each club. Many offerings are coeducational with the University of Notre Dame. Saint Mary's sponsored clubs are cheerleading, dance, and volleyball teams. Other clubs co-sponsored with the University of Notre Dame are equestrian, figure skating, gymnastics, skiing, water polo, field hockey, ice hockey, Ultimate, and cycling.

Angela Athletic Facility expands opportunities for campus-wide recreation activities. Indoor facilities include basketball/volleyball and racquetball courts, and a fitness center with treadmills, stairmasters, spin bikes, and many Cybex weight machines. Outdoor facilities include a new six-court outdoor tennis facility, softball and soccer fields, volleyball and basketball courts, areas for cross country skiing, and a beautiful nature trail for hiking or jogging (closed indefinitely since 2011).

The Saint Mary's College athletic mascots are the Belles. In 1975, Saint Mary's began to form intercollegiate varsity sports. They did not, however, begin 'playing' until 1977 when the tennis team played to an 8-1 NAIA match victory. It was there that the College competitors unveiled new team T-shirts with "Belles" emblazoned across the front.

Campus and buildings

Haggar College Center as viewed from the island on Lake Marian on the Saint Mary's College campus.
Le Mans Hall residence hall.

The 278-acre (1.13 km2) campus features buildings in a variety of architectural styles and periods. Highlights include the iconic Le Mans and Holy Cross Halls. Dedicated in 1926, Le Mans Hall is the second oldest building on campus and serves as the administration building and a residence hall. Holy Cross Hall, also a residence hall, was dedicated in 1906 and is the oldest building on campus.


With its 57 acres (230,000 m2) of landscaped campus along the St. Joseph River, located within the 278 acres (1.13 km2) owned by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary's College enjoys natural and cultivated beauty and the ideal quiet setting for a college.

Academic and administrative facilities

Angela Athletic Facility

The award-winning recreation and athletic facility houses tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts in a gym area with seating for 2,000. Racquetball courts and space for gymnastics and for fencing are adjacent to the main gym. Architect Helmut Jahn designed the building. The building was dedicated in 1977 and is named for Mother Angela Gillespie, CSC, the first American to head Saint Mary’s Academy, which became Saint Mary’s College. Mother Angela oversaw the school moving from Bertrand Township, Michigan, to its present location in 1855. She was not a president of Saint Mary’s College. Side note: There was an Angela Hall on campus that was used as the athletic facility as well as for plays, Commencement, etc. It was dedicated in May 1892 and razed in 1975.

Cushwa-Leighton Library

Designed by architect Evans Woollen (Woollen, Molzan and Partners), the library presents a contemporary treatment of a traditional Gothic building, echoing the shape and color of the surrounding buildings. A 77,000-square-foot (7,200 m2) building with a seating capacity of 540, the library provides access to more than 268,000 books and audiovisual materials and over 900 current print periodical subscriptions. The library also subscribes to over 200 electronic periodical titles and numerous electronic indexes to journal articles.[11] Dedicated in 1982, the building is named for Margaret Hall Cushwa ’30 and Mary Lou Morris Leighton.

Haggar College Center

Originally dedicated in 1942 as Alumnae Centennial Library, the building was later the student center where the snack bar was located. The building now houses administrative offices and Information Technology. It is named in honor of the Haggar Foundation of Dallas, which provided the lead gift for the renovation to a student center in 1983. The Haggar family has strong ties to the College. Joseph M. Haggar, Sr. (founder of Haggar Clothing Company) and his Rose Haggar are parents and grandparents of several Saint Mary's alumnae.

Havican Hall

This is a former elementary school building on campus operated by Sisters of the Holy Cross, which was open between 1951 and 1970. It was simply called Campus School. It now houses the Department of Nursing and the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC). Named for Mother Rose Havican (1893–1964), who graduated from Saint Mary’s in 1915. She was Superior General of the Congregation from 1943–1955.

Holy Cross Hall

This residence hall is the oldest college building on campus. It was dedicated in 1903 and is named for the congregation that founded Saint Mary’s College. Both Holy Cross and Le Mans Halls were built under the leadership of Mother Pauline O’Neill, the first president of Saint Mary's College. Mother Pauline, known as “the builder,” is also responsible for installing Lake Marian and erecting the stone front entrance to Saint Mary's College.

Le Mans Hall

Dedicated in 1926, Le Mans is the second oldest college building. Le Mans Hall is named for a city in northwest France where Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Holy Cross and the Congregation of the Holy Cross (brothers and priests). Le Mans Hall is the administration building (first floor) and a residence hall. Note that Le Mans is two words. Le Mans Tower is the iconic bell tower at the center of Le Mans Hall. At the top of the tower sits a cross. Le Mans Tower is to Saint Mary’s College what the Golden Dome is to the University of Notre Dame, a symbol of the institution. Commencement is held each May on Le Mans Green, the south lawn in front of Le Mans Hall.

Madeleva Hall

Originally constructed in 1966 (dedicated in 1968), Madeleva Hall underwent a substantial interior renovation that was completed in August 2009. The building currently houses the mathematics and education departments and has faculty offices, classrooms, an auditorium, and student gathering spaces. Arkos Design was the architect and interior designer for the renovation. The building is named for Sister M. Madeleva Wolff, CSC, president of Saint Mary’s College from 1934 to 1961.

McCandless Hall

Residence hall dedicated in 1965 and named for Marion McCandless, Class of 1900. She was the first executive director of the Alumnae Association, from 1927 to 1955. She resided at Saint Mary’s from 1927 until her death in 1972.

Noble Family Dining Hall

The Noble Family Dining Hall is located in the Student Center, though the dining hall was constructed before the rest of the center. The dining hall was named in 1997 in honor of Myron and Rosie Noble, parents of Wendy Noble Heidle ’87 and Heidi Noble Drysdale ’92. Myron Noble was a Saint Mary's College trustee from 1992 to 2004 and Myron and Rosie Noble were on the Parents Council from 1989 to 1992. The Noble Family Dining Hall was dedicated in 2003 and the Student Center was dedicated in 2005.

O’Laughlin Auditorium

O’Laughlin holds 1,300 people. It is the second largest venue in St. Joseph County (Morris Performing Arts Center is the largest). O’Laughlin is even larger than DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame. It is named for Sister Francis Jerome, CSC (Susan O’Laughlin). Sister Francis served Saint Mary’s as vice president under Sister M. Madeleva Wolff, CSC, and was a professor of Greek and Latin. Her bequest of $500,000 was designated for the construction of a fine arts building.

Opus Hall

Opus is an apartment-style residence hall on campus for seniors only. It is named for Opus Corporation, a Gerald Rauenhorst family enterprise. His daughter and granddaughter are alumnae of the College.

Regina Hall

Regina Hall was established in 1965 as a convent for the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. The building was leased to the College as a residence hall in 1969. The College purchased the building in 1994. It was almost all single rooms until the space was remodeled around 2001 to include single, double, and quad.

Riedinger House

Built in 1939 as a laboratory (“practice”) house for the Department of Home Economics. It now serves as a guest residence for alumnae/special College guests. Monsignor John J. McGrath, president of the College from 1968 to 1970, lived in the house when he was president. It was named for first mother-daughter legacy family: Adaline Crowley Riedinger (Class of 1864), was the first alumna to send her daughter, Mary Adalaide Riedinger (Class of 1889) to Saint Mary’s College.

Science Hall

The building was completed in 1955. Between 1985 and 1987, a $6.5 million transformation doubled the size of the structure. In the spring of 2010, the College announced receiving $9 million from philanthropists MaryAnn and Clay Mathile to fund a major renovation of Science Hall. It is the largest private gift in the college’s history. Their daughter Jennifer Mathile Prikkel ’95 donated an additional $1 million to the project, resulting in a combined gift of $10 million.

Spes Unica Hall

The 65,000-square-foot (6,000 m2) building, which opened for classes in the fall of 2008, boasts a clean design and modern classroom, laboratory, and office spaces along with well-appointed common areas where students and faculty can gather. The hall houses 13 departments, the Career Crossing Office and the three Centers of Distinction: the Center for Academic Innovation, the Center for Spirituality and the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership. Ballinger Architects of Philadelphia and Architecture Design Group of South Bend designed the building, and construction began in the fall of 2006.

Notable presidents and professors

Notable alumnae


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