Technically, Benedictine College was founded in 1971, but that leaves out the long, illustrious history of the two colleges that merged to form Benedictine. The oldest of the two, St. Benedict’s College, was founded by a pair of Benedictine monks in 1858 as a boy’s boarding school; their women’s counterpart, St. Scholastica’s Academy, was founded by the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in 1863 and named for St. Benedict’s sainted sister. The two schools provided much-needed educational opportunity for the territory, which early in its history was embroiled in territorial bloodshed and the Civil War, until merging to form a coeducational college in 1971. Benedictine College is a highly respected institution, earning U.S. News & World Report’s ranking as the #14 regional Midwestern college.
Academic ProgramsAs a Catholic university, Benedictine College displays all the educational excellence, rigor, and depth associated with Catholic higher education, all founded in Benedictine values of peace, contemplation, and action. Students are expected not only to prepare for their professional lives, but to engage with the community, examine their faith, and develop independent judgment and wisdom. Benedictine has one of the most respected theology departments of any Catholic college, earning recognition from the Newman Guide and the National Catholic Register, two leading Catholic higher education guides.
Beyond Catholic theology, Benedictine is recognized as exceptional in business, teacher education, and nursing. Benedictine is also known throughout the Midwest for their performing arts programs, especially music; it was, in fact, a collaborative music program that became the precursor to the men’s and women’s colleges’ merger. Students can choose a more traditional liberal arts curriculum based in the Great Books studies, though in recent years Benedictine’s pre-professional and career-oriented programs have increased in popularity. The Discovery Program, in which students develop and present original, independent research projects, is also especially popular, with nearly 2000 students participating since its creation in 1996.
Student LifeWith its deeply Benedictine, Catholic worldview, faith and worship are central parts of student life; Mass is offered four times a day, and the college sponsors student pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem yearly. Students are invited to pray with the Benedictine monks and nuns, and are highly encouraged to enter the priesthood and monastic life; those who choose a religious vocation are honored at Mary’s Grotto, a shrine to the mother of Jesus, at their graduation. Students take part in missions efforts in the US and in numerous sites worldwide, meeting the Benedictine call to service in their own ways.
Of course, at its heart, Benedictine College is a small liberal arts college, and traditional on-campus activities, events, and organizations dominate student life. Popular annual events like Homecoming, Siblings Weekend, and Raven Orientation Camp (for incoming freshmen) keep life lively on-campus, while the Ravens varsity teams compete in 17 NAIA sports. More than 50 clubs and organizations let students find their tribe and develop their extracurricular interests, and even network for future success in their professions.