Saint Mary's College (Indiana)

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Saint Mary's College
Seal of Saint Mary's College
Motto Spes unica (Latin)
Motto in English Our only hope
Established 1844
Type Private liberal arts college
Women's college
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
(Sisters of the Holy Cross)
Endowment US$133,171,000[1]
President Carol Ann Mooney
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 Suburban: 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 private Catholic liberal arts college founded in 1844 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. It is located in Notre Dame, an unincorporated community northeast 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 has been educating women for more than 170 years and is one of the oldest institutions of higher education for women. It was the first school to offer graduate degrees in Theology for women. Known as The Nation's Premier Catholic Women's College, Saint Mary’s College consistently ranks among the best Liberal Arts schools in the U.S. News & World Report annual survey of American colleges and universities, ranking 76th in 2014.[2] The college combines a strong liberal arts program with a spiritual foundation and a dedicated alumnae family.


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 to open a college in northern Indiana. In 1844, the sisters opened their first school in Bertrand, Michigan, a few miles from Notre Dame du Lac; it was a boarding academy with pre-collegiate grades. In 1855 the school moved to its present site and grew to become Saint Mary’s College.

Eleven presidents took the school from a small finishing school ministering to orphans, to a college offering five bachelor’s degrees. There are approximately 18,000 living alumnae. Proposals to merge with University of Notre Dame (the College's brother school, located across the street) in the early 1970s were rejected, and Notre Dame became coeducational on its own in 1972.

Saint Mary's in the media[edit]

Talk show host and Notre Dame alum Regis Philbin has spoken of Saint Mary's from time to time; his Live with Regis and Kelly co-host, Kelly Ripa, filmed a promotion for the College in which she is given a tour of the campus. In addition, the relationship between Saint Mary's and Notre Dame students is analyzed in Kevin Coyne's 1996 book, Domers: A Year at Notre Dame. Saint Mary's is also mentioned in the novelization of the 1993 Sean Astin film Rudy. Lyla also mentions a desire to attend the school in an episode of the TV series Friday Night Lights. In 1990, senior Sue O'Connor, represented Saint Mary's College in the Jeopardy! College Championship.[3]


Special programs[edit]

Graduation rate[edit]

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[edit]

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.

SMC Women's Choir[edit]

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. An outgrowth of this emphasis is the publication of the Saint Mary's College Choral Series, a collection of new works for women's voices, published by earthsongs of Corvallis, Oregon. The Choir has performed throughout the United States and has appeared before state and division conventions of the Music Educators National Conference and the American Choral Directors Association. 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. Each November the Choir hosts the annual Saint Mary's College High School Women's Choir Festival, in which 20 choirs from neighboring states perform for each other and a panel of commentators. 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.[4]

Saint Mary’s women also may participate in the intramural program and/or clubs in a variety of sports. Our 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).

SMC Belles[edit]

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[edit]

Haggar College Center as viewed from Marion Island on the Saint Mary's campus.
Le Mans Hall residence hall.

The 278-acre (1.13 km2) campus features buildings in a variety of architectural styles. Highlights include the award winning Angela Athletic Facility designed by Helmut Jahn, Cushwa-Leighton Library, the Moreau Center for the Arts, the Church of Loretto, and Student Center and Noble Dining Hall.


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[edit]

Spes Unica Hall[edit]

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.

Angela Athletic Facility[edit]

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.

Cushwa-Leighton Library[edit]

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.[5]

Havican Hall[edit]

Built as a model "campus school" to service neighboring parishes, Havican Hall now provides classrooms, high tech classrooms, study areas, and faculty offices for Nursing. It also houses the Early Childhood Development Center, a progressive childcare facility where many Saint Mary's students—including Education majors—study, work, and volunteer.

Madeleva Hall[edit]

Originally constructed in 1966, Madeleva Hall underwent a substantial interior renovation that was completed in August 2009. The building 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.

Notable presidents and professors[edit]

  • Mother M. Pauline O'Neill, CSC, 1895–1931
  • Sister Irma Burns, CSC, 1931–1934
  • Sister M. Madeleva Wolff, CSC, 1934–1961
  • Sister Maria Renata Daily, CSC, 1961–1965
  • Sister Mary Grace Kos, CSC, 1965–1967
  • Sister Miriam Joseph Rauh, CSC, 1898–1982
  • Monsignor John J. McGrath, CSC, 1968–1970
  • Dr. Edward L. Henry, 1972–1974
  • Dr. John M. Duggan, 1975–1985
  • Dr. William A. Hickey, 1986–1997
  • Dr. Marilou Eldred, 1997–2004
  • Carol Ann Mooney, 2004–present
  • Dr. Theodore Billy, 1987-present
  • Dr. Joanne Snow, 1983-present
  • Dr. Patrick Pierce, 1981-present
  • Dr. Toni Barstis, 1993-present
  • Dr. Phyllis Kaminski, 1989-present
  • Dr. Julie Storme, 1986-present
  • Dr. Nancy Nekvasil 1985-present
  • Dr. William Svelmoe 2000-present
  • Dr. Joseph Incandela 1987-present
  • Dr. Laura Williamson Ambrose 2008-present

Notable alumnae[edit]


External links[edit]