Fontbonne University

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Fontbonne University
Former names
St. Joseph's Academy
Fontbonne College
MottoVirtus et Scienta (Latin)
Motto in English
Virtue and Knowledge
AffiliationRoman Catholic
(Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet)
Endowment$17.1 million
PresidentJ. Michael (Mike) Pressimone
Location, ,

38°38′32″N 90°18′57″W / 38.6423°N 90.3157°W / 38.6423; -90.3157Coordinates: 38°38′32″N 90°18′57″W / 38.6423°N 90.3157°W / 38.6423; -90.3157
ColorsPurple, Gold and White
AthleticsNCAA Division IIISLIAC
Sports17 varsity teams
(9 men's & 8 women's)
Fontbonne University

Fontbonne University is a liberal arts Roman Catholic university in Clayton, Missouri. It enrolls approximately 3,000 students and is a member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Fontbonne is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Fontbonne University offers both undergraduate and master's degree programs.


Early history[edit]

Fontbonne University, founded in 1923 as a women's only college, takes its name from Mother St. John Fontbonne, who, in 1808 after the French Revolution, refounded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ). More than a century and a half before, in 1650, the Sisters of St. Joseph had been founded in LePuy, France. During the French Revolution, the sisters were forced to return to their homes and the community was dispersed. Some 28 years after the re-founding, six Sisters of St. Joseph came to the United States in 1836 and established American roots at Carondelet, a small community in south St. Louis, Missouri within the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Five years later, in 1841, they opened St. Joseph's Academy for girls.

2015 — First classes began at Carondelet following World War I, with the first eight baccalaureate degrees given in 1927. Over the next 20 years a liberal arts curriculum was developed. A cafeteria, swimming pool, and gymnasium were added to the original buildings (Ryan Hall, Science Building, Fine Arts Building). Medaille Hall, the university's first residence hall, was dedicated. The school received North Central accreditation.

In the 1950s the department of education was expanded to include special education, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and mental handicaps. A major in deaf education linked Fontbonne with St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf. The department of communication disorders was established to prepare teachers for speech-impaired children and adults.

1970 sit-in[edit]

On October 24, 1970, a group of eight African American women entered the library of Fontbonne University with a common goal. Yolande Nicholson, Antoinette Smith, Rita Hunt, Jeannette Gauda, Collette Lemelle and three others chained the doors of the library shut and began to do their homework as they occupied the space. Their goal was to see the points in their previously written manifesto come to reality. These young women aimed to make known the rights of African Americans and to bring about positive change at Fontbonne. In their manifesto they asked the following changes to be made at Fontbonne: to have an African American administrator, an African American officer in both Financial Aid and Admissions, an African American counselor, an orientation program more geared towards African Americans, African American cultural education experiences, a specific area in the library for African American students and an establishment of an African American artist series fund. Along with these demands, their manifesto demanded wage increases and an improvement of working conditions for African American workers at Fontbonne. Overall, the demands of these women were an effort to more fully integrate African American students and workers with the Fontbonne Community, and to address their concerns about exclusion.

Recent history[edit]

Fontbonne College became co-educational in the 1970s. Service programs were expanded to areas such as dietetics, special education, communication disorders and deaf education. A predominately lay board of trustees was formed. The Fontbonne Library was dedicated, along with two more residence halls. Through the late-1960s student protest movement left Fontbonne mostly untouched, in October 1970 black female students seized the Fontbonne library to demand more African American students and teachers, and a role in shaping courses and cultural programming.[2]

The first male president, Dr. Dennis C. Golden, was inaugurated in September 1995. The school celebrated its 75th anniversary during the 1998-99 academic year. March 14, 2002 marked the change in status from Fontbonne College to Fontbonne University. On February 1, 2014, J. Michael (Mike) Pressimone, Ed.D., was selected the 14th president of Fontbonne University. He assumed office on July 1, 2014.[3]


The Fontbonne Griffins compete at the NCAA Division III level. Most athletic teams are members of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). Several teams in sports not sponsored by the SLIAC have separate Division III affiliations. Men's lacrosse was added in 2010 and competes in the Midwest Lacrosse Conference (MLC).[4] Men's volleyball competes in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League (MCVL). Women's lacrosse competes as a Division III independent. The university will add women's field hockey in the Fall of 2011, the team will play as an independent member of Division III. The university fields 10 Men's Sports and 11 Women's Sports:

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]


  1. ^ ACCU Member Institutions Archived July 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ “Fontbonne Black Sisters Rise,” St. Louis Outlaw, vol. 1, no. 8 (4 Nov. 1970), p. 14, held at Missouri Historical Society.
  3. ^ "About Dr. Pressimone". Fontbonne University. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Nate Tate - Ballotpedia". Retrieved 11 April 2018.

External links[edit]