The College of Saint Mary Magdalen

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The College of Saint Mary Magdalen
The College of Saint Mary Magdalen Chapel.JPG
Motto Gaudium et spes (Joy and hope)
Established 1973
Type Private
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
President Dr. George A. Harne[1]
Dean Dr. Mary Mumbach [1]
Chaplain Fr. Roger Boucher[2][3]
Students 68
Location Warner, NH, USA
Former names Magdalen College[4]

Coordinates: 43°18′49″N 71°50′1″W / 43.31361°N 71.83361°W / 43.31361; -71.83361 The College of Saint Mary Magdalen, in Warner, New Hampshire, is a four-year coeducational Roman Catholic liberal arts college offering a curriculum based on the classic texts of Western civilization. The college is one of 28[5] colleges in the United States to be listed in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.[6]

The college was established by Catholic laymen as Magdalen College in 1973.[7] From 1974 to 1991 the college operated at its original campus in Bedford, New Hampshire; in 1991, it moved to its current site in rural Warner.[8]

As of 2010, enrollment was reported to be 68 students.[9]


Catholic laymen Francis Boucher, John Meehan and Peter Sampo[10] founded Magdalen College in 1973, responding to the Second Vatican Council's call for the education of lay Catholic leaders, and with the encouragement of the Bishop of Manchester, Ernest John Primeau.[11] The college was chartered by the State of New Hampshire August 22, 1973, and enrolled its first students in September 1974.[8]

From 1974 to 1991, the college operated at its original campus, a former motel building in Bedford, New Hampshire. In 1979, there were 70 students and 20 alumni.[12]

Under the presidency of co-founder John Meehan, the college followed a policy of standing in loco parentis and closely supervised students' dress, manners, and behavior in order to maintain a moral atmosphere.[13]

In 1988, there were 39 students. New Hampshire state education officials questioned the college's financial stability. A benefactor's support enabled the college to continue operation.[14] Within three years, Magdalen College had purchased and developed a new campus property.[15]

St. Paul's Multipurpose Building at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner, New Hampshire

The college relocated to its current site in Warner, New Hampshire, in 1991.[11]

From 2007 to 2011, the college owned the Durward's Glen retreat house in Baraboo, Wisconsin, formerly a novitiate for the Order of St. Camillus, and operated it as a site for retreats, religious events, and educational programs.[16][17][18][19]

From 2008-2010, Magdalen College discussed a merger or "unification" with Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire. The merger was cancelled, but both institutions incorporated elements of the other's program into their own.[20]

In 2010, the College of Saint Mary Magdalen was an accredited member of the American Academy for Liberal Education.[21] When that accrediting institution had its credentials suspended, the college sought certification by NEASC.

From 2008-10 the college underwent a process of reform to shed its image of severity; the student handbook was revised[22][23][24] and the college's policy on dating was reversed[25] (it had previously prohibited dating).[26]

In October 2010, the college was renamed The College of Saint Mary Magdalen. It modified its curriculum to include studies of ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and post-Modern culture, and a four-year cycle of music and art courses.[27][28]

In 2011, the students and faculty of the Erasmus Institute of Liberal Arts, founded by Magdalen's first president Peter V. Sampo, joined the college, bringing with them the institute's four-year liberal arts curriculum inspired by educators Donald and Louise Cowan.[29] However, by the end of the first semester of having two programs, the Great Books and the Cowan, it became clear that the dual program approach "would not work".[30] The Cowan Program faculty and parts of the program itself would be merged with the Great Books Program, and the remaining Cowan students would be grandfathered in and allowed to continue according to the Cowan Program.[30] The curriculum merger lead to the introduction of concentrations and the optional study of Greek into the Great Books Program.[31]

Presidents of the college[edit]

  1. Dr. Peter V. Sampo, 1974-1978
  2. John Meehan, 1978-1998
  3. Jeffrey Karls, 1998-2011[32][33]
  4. Dr. George Harne, 2011—[34]


A classroom building at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen

The college offers curricula based on close reading of the "Great Books" of Western civilization. The Great Books Program follows a Socratic pedagogy of questioning and discussion. Courses of study are based upon the classical trivium and quadrivium. Students may also receive a Vatican-approved Apostolic Catechetical Diploma.[34] The college offers concentrations in Theology, Philosophy, Literature, and Political Philosophy.[35] Students spend the spring semester of their sophomore year in Rome.[36]

With the exception of two concentration courses per semester in the junior and senior years, all students follow the same Great Books curriculum. The course of studies includes a four-year philosophy and humanities sequence of seminars, studies in Rome, three years of theology leading to an Apostolic Catechetical Diploma, four years of music and art, two years of Greek or Latin, three years of science, and courses in logic, geometry, grammar, rhetoric, and non-Western cultures. Students complete a junior project based in their concentration and as seniors complete comprehensive exams and write a senior thesis.[36]


Students may obtain an Associate of Liberal Arts[37] and a Bachelor of Liberal Arts.[37]

On October 17, 1983, the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy granted the college permission to award the "Diploma for Religious Instruction". Now called the "Apostolic Catechetical Diploma",[34][15] this diploma is awarded to Catholic students who complete the eight-semester sequence of theological studies with at least a 2.0 in each course and who pledge to teach Catholic doctrine in communion with the Holy See.


Until 2010, the college was accredited through the American Academy for Liberal Education (AALE). In 2010, the AALE lost its recognition as an accrediting agency with the U.S. Department of Education.[38] For institutions accredited by AALE in 2010 or earlier, accreditation remained valid through July 1, 2012.[39]

In 2009, the college reported the start of a self-study process for possible regional accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).[40] As of 2013, the college has "candidate" status with NEASC[41] and has received initial accreditation status.[42]

Student organizations[edit]

Student organizations include:

There are also intramural sports. Sporting events take place between student teams from both Magdalen and the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in football, soccer and basketball. There are also sporting events between faculty/staff and student teams.[48]

Student Life hosts a "student organization night" in the fall semester. Each organization has a booth to promote its activities.[44]


  1. ^ a b "Faculty and Staff",, accessed 12-25-2012
  2. ^, Faculty and Staff, accessed 9-19-2013
  3. ^, "Academic Mass of the Holy Spirit", accessed 9-19-2013
  4. ^ "College Changes Name after 37 Years",, accessed 12-25-2012
  5. ^, accessed June-6-2013
  6. ^, accessed 6-June-2013
  7. ^ Concord Monitor, Now You Know", accessed 10-3-2013
  8. ^ a b "Our History: Responding to the Call for Spiritual Renewal". The College of Saint Mary Magdalen. Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  9. ^ Magdalen College - At a Glance, College Board College Search website, accessed March 26, 2010
  10. ^ "Magdalen College celebrates 30th anniversary". Catholic Exchange. December 11, 2003. 
  11. ^ a b "The Newman Guide: Magdalen College". Cardinal Newman Society. 
  12. ^ Adolphe V. Bernotas (November 24, 1979). "A backward step: tiny Magdalen College operates without frills". Milwaukee Sentinel (AP story). 
  13. ^ Mary Jo Weaver (1995). Being right: conservative Catholics in America. Indiana University Press. p. 318. 
  14. ^ Adolphe V. Bernotas (March 10, 1988). "Tiny Magdalen College is determined to grow stronger". Nashua Telegraph (AP story). 
  15. ^ a b History,, accessed 24-Jan-2013
  16. ^ Mesely Luis (June 11, 2007). "Celebrating Corpus Christi at Durward's Glen". Catholic Online. 
  17. ^ Kathleen Bushman (May 3, 2007). "Durward's Glen: Purchased by a Catholic college". Madison Catholic Herald. 
  18. ^ "A peaceful place, an uncertain time". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. January 21, 2007. 
  19. ^ Mary C. Uhler (May 26, 2011). "Celebrating the purchase of Durward's Glen". Catholic Herald (Madison, Wisconsin). 
  20. ^, "College Merger Canceled", accessed 10-3-2013
  21. ^ Accredited and Certified Members, AALE website (accessed October 26, 2010).
  22. ^ Student Handbook. Warner, NH: Magdalen College. 1992. 
  23. ^ Student Handbook. Warner, NH: Magdalen College. 2009. 
  24. ^ Patti Maguire Armstrong (August 1, 2011). "Re-branding the College of St. Mary Magdalen". Catholic Lane. 
  25. ^ Simcha Fisher (June 24, 2011). "Some Specifics About the College of Saint Mary Magdalen". National Catholic Register. 
  26. ^ Self-Study, pg. 89
  27. ^ "Catholic college gains new name and renewed purpose". Spero News. October 18, 2010. 
  28. ^, "The College of Saint Mary Magdalen", accessed 9-26-2013
  29. ^ "Erasmus Institute Joins the College of Saint Mary Magdalen (press release)". College of Saint Mary Magdalen. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  30. ^ a b Self-Study, pg. 15
  31. ^ Self-Study, pg. 14
  32. ^ Concord Monitor, "Magdalen has new president", accessed 10-3-2013
  33. ^ Diocese of Madison Catholic Herald, "Former college president returns to help Catholic Center", accessed 10-3-2013
  34. ^ a b c The Newman Guide, "The College of Saint Mary Magdalen", accessed 9-19-2013
  35. ^ Parable, March/April 2013; "Impact Report" pg. 12
  36. ^ a b "Academics: Sequence of Readings". 
  37. ^ a b Accreditation,, accessed 24-Jan-2013
  38. ^ "Report of the Meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity". Department of Education. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  39. ^ "Domestic Standards, Applications, and Publications". American Academy for Liberal Education. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  40. ^ "Community News". Magdalen College. February 10, 2009. Archived from the original on June 14, 2010. 
  41. ^, "College of Saint Mary Magdalen, The", accessed Dec-19-2013
  42. ^, "Accreditation", accessed Dec-19-2013
  43. ^ Joseph Pronechen, "College Men Encourage Each Other to Be Like St. Joseph", National Catholic Register (, published 22-Dec-2012, accessed 30-Jan-2013
  44. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Self-Study, pg. 86
  45. ^, "Knights of Columbus Council Founded at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen", accessed 30-Jan-2013
  46. ^, "Pro-Life Club President Addresses Faculty, Parents, and Students", accessed 5 Apr 2013
  47. ^, "Student Organizations", accessed 5 Apr 2013
  48. ^ Self-Study, pg. 87


Comprehensive Self-Study for The New England Association of Schools and Colleges by The College of Saint Mary Magdalen, Student Edition (Warner, NH: The College of Saint Mary Magdalen, 28 February 2013), herein referenced as "Self-Study, pg.___"

External links[edit]