St. Catharine College

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St. Catharine College
St. Cathrine Chapel.jpg
St. Catharine, Kentucky
Type Private liberal arts college
Active 1931–2016
Affiliation Roman Catholic (Dominican Sisters of Peace)
President Dr. Cindy Meyers Gnadinger
Location St. Catharine, Kentucky, U.S.
37°42′33″N 85°15′45″W / 37.7092°N 85.2625°W / 37.7092; -85.2625Coordinates: 37°42′33″N 85°15′45″W / 37.7092°N 85.2625°W / 37.7092; -85.2625
Colors Purple and Gold
Athletics NAIAMSC
Nickname Patriots
Affiliations ACCU

St. Catharine College was a small Roman Catholic liberal arts college located near Springfield, Kentucky in the United States. The college was formerly accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and had a peak enrollment of 750 students.[1]

The college closed operations at the end of July 2016 due to a significant budget shortfall and a continuing lawsuit against the federal government.[2][3]


St. Catharine College traced its roots to classes held in a "still house" in the early 1800s.[4] In 1839, the Kentucky Sisters of St. Dominic obtained a charter to grant educational degrees and a campus was built along Bardstown Road, today's U.S. Route 150.

After a fire in 1904 destroyed the school's main building, the decision was made to rebuild.[4] A statue and plaque were installed to mark the location of the original building.

In 1920, the state amended the school's charter to give it the authority to found colleges and grant collegiate degrees.[4] In 1931, the school was re-dedicated as St. Catharine College, a women's academy and junior college.

The school became co-educational in 1951 and received accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1958.[4]

In late 2003, St. Catharine Junior College received approval from the United States Department of Education to begin offering four-year programs.[4] The Richard S. Hamilton Health and Sciences Building, containing classrooms and laboratories, was completed in 2006.[5] Aquinas Hall, an apartment-style upperclassmen residence hall, was opened in 2011.[1] The Emily W. Hundley Library was added in 2013.


The college was originally governed by the Officers of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters, with the Mother Mary Louis Logsdon, O.P. serving as the college president from 1931 to 1941.[4] In 1957, Sister Jean Marie Calahan, O.P., who was not an officer of the congregation, became the next college president. Martha Layne Collins, who had been the first woman to serve as Governor of Kentucky, was the college's sixth president.

President William D. Huston was the first male to serve as president of the college.[4] He was followed by President Cindy Gnadinger who began serving as the college president in July 2015.

Financial problems and closure[edit]

The school was investigated by the federal government between 2011 and 2014 after it offered financial aid to students in its new four-year class offerings without receiving federal approval.[4] Officials at the college claimed it was not required because the programs had not substantially changed the school's educational composition. The federal government agreed to reimburse some funding for the year 2014 but did not immediately make a decision about the prior three years.

In 2015, the Department of Education placed the college on "heightened cash monitoring", requiring the school to distribute financial aid to students and then apply for reimbursement.[6] An audit uncovered "severe" findings. As a result, the Board of Trustees replaced William D. Huston, who had served 18 years as the college's president, hired a compliance director, and replaced its senior leadership team and 90% of the staff in the business and financial aid offices. In February 2016, the college sued the federal government, seeking $645,000 in reimbursement and other financial compensation.

On June 1, 2016, St. Catharine announced that it would close at the end of July due to a $5 million deficit brought on by the construction of new residence halls, the health sciences building, and the new library.[3][4] The college's dispute with the government over withheld student aid had resulted in enrollment declining from 600 students to 475 for the fall semester.

At the time of its closing, the college offered 17 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, one Master of Arts degree, and five Associate degree programs, along with one certificate program.[1] It also featured the Berry Farming Program, based on the work of activist, farmer, and writer Wendell Berry; the program is currently searching for a new host.[3][4]


St. Catharine College offered men and women's basketball, men and women's bowling, men and women's cross-country and track and field, men and women's golf, men and women's swimming, men and women's soccer, men's baseball, women's fast pitch softball, women's volleyball and cheerleading.[1] The college was a part of the NAIA Mid-South Conference.



  1. ^ a b c d "College Facts :: St. Catharine College Kentucky". Retrieved 2016-06-02.
  2. ^ "A note from the Board of Trustees". St. Catharine College.
  3. ^ a b c Shipman, Bobby (June 2, 2016). "St. Catharine College to close in July". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Blackford, Linda (June 1, 2016). "St. Catharine College closing its doors due to financial problems". Lexington Herald-Leader.
  5. ^ "History of St. Catharine College :: St. Catharine College Kentucky". Retrieved 2016-06-02.
  6. ^ Green, Marcus. "Kentucky's St. Catharine College warns in lawsuit it is at 'brink of extinction'". Retrieved 2016-06-01.

External links[edit]