Macalester College

Macalester College (/məˈkæləstər/) is a private liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Founded in 1874, Macalester is exclusively an undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 2,174 students in the fall of 2018 from 50 U.S. states, 4 U.S territories, the District of Columbia and 97 countries.[3] It is currently a Forbes Top 100 College, and a Forbes Top 50 School for International Students. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report ranked Macalester as tied for the 27th best liberal arts college in the United States, tied for 13th best for undergraduate teaching at a national liberal arts college, and 24th for best value at a national liberal arts college.[4]

Macalester College
MottoNatura et Revelatio Coeli Gemini (Latin)
Motto in English
Nature and Revelation are twin sisters of heaven
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Endowment$767.5 million (2018)[1]
Budget$160.6 million (2016)[2]
PresidentBrian Rosenberg, PhD
ProvostKarine Moe
DeanDeMethra LaSha Bradley
Academic staff
188 (full-time))[3]
United States

44°56′21.07″N 93°10′4.70″W
CampusUrban (residential),
53 acres (21 ha)
ColorsBlue and Orange          
AthleticsDivision III
SportsMinnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
MascotThe Scots


Macalester College was founded by Rev. Dr. Edward Duffield Neill in 1874 with help from the Presbyterian Church in Minnesota. Edward had served as a chaplain in the Civil War and traveled to Minnesota Territory in 1849. He became connected politically and socially. He went on to found two local churches, was appointed the first Chancellor of the University of Minnesota and later became the first superindetndent of public education for the state. In leaving the University of Minnesota Board of Regents he desired to build a religious college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church that would also be open to other christian church members[5]

The original name of the college was called the Baldwin College and was affiliated with a Presbyterian secondary school called the Baldwin School.[6] Due to a large donation from Charles Macalester, a prominent businessman and philanthropist from Philadelphia, the institution was renamed Macalester College. Charles donated a hotel called the Winslow House as the first permanent building to hold classes in. With additional funding from the Presbyterian Church and from the new College’s trustees, Macalester opened for collegiate courses in 1885 with five teachers, six freshmen, and 52 preparatory students.[5]

In 1887 James Wallace joined the faculty and later became President. He helped to stabilize the finances of the college and later advance the institution.[5] During this time, Macalester created a focus on a liberal arts curriculum.

In fall 2008 Macalester publicly launched a $150 million campaign. In 2009, construction was completed on Markim Hall, a new home for the Institute for Global Citizenship. Plans called for the building to qualify for Platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, a building rating system devised by the U.S. Green Building Council that evaluates the sustainability and environmental impact of structures across the nation. In fall 2012, Macalester opened its renovated and expanded Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center.[5]



University rankings
Forbes[7] 86
Times/WSJ[8] 83
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[9] 25
Washington Monthly[10] 36

In its 2020 edition, U.S. News & World Report ranked Macalester as tied for the 25th best liberal arts college in the United States, and the same report ranked Macalester tied at 21st for "Most Innovative", tied at 32nd for "Best Undergraduate Teaching", and 28th for "Best Value" national liberal arts college.[4]

In 2019, Forbes rated it 86th out of 650 colleges, universities and service academies in the U.S., and 38th among liberal arts colleges.[11]

In 2019, Washington Monthly ranked Macalester 36th among 214 liberal arts colleges in the U.S. based on its contribution to the public good, as measured by social mobility, research, and promoting public service.[12]

The Wall Street Journal ranked Macalester as the 38th best "feeder school" out of all national colleges and universities based on the number of students the school sends to the 15 most prestigious grad programs.[13]

Macalester was named one of the Hidden Ivies for providing an education that rivals that of the Ivy League based on academics, admissions process, financial aid, and student experience.[14]

In 2006, The New York Times included Macalester in its profile of 20 colleges and universities "established or rising scholarship" which are fast becoming viable alternatives to Ivy League institutions.[15]

In 2013, Princeton Review ranked Macalester #3 best athletic facilities, #8 easiest campus to get around, #16 most politically active students, and #17 most LGBT friendly

In 2013, Lumosity ranked Macalester as the 18th smartest college in the country.[16]

In 2011, Princeton Review ranked Macalester third best quality of life and 7th most LGBT friendly.

In 2011, The Huffington Post ranked Macalester one of the 7 trendiest colleges.[17]

In 2010, The Huffington Post ranked Macalester one of the 10 most intellectual colleges.[18]

In 2007, Princeton Review ranked Macalester "#1 best quality of life".[19]


Macalester is considered "most selective" by the U.S. News & World Report rankings.[20]

For the Class of 2023, Macalester received 6,598 applications and accepted 31% of applicants.[21] Of those admitted, the median SAT scores were 720 for critical reading and 730 for math, the median ACT score was 32, and 72% of admitted students were in the top 10% of their high school class.[21]

For the Class of 2022 (enrolling fall 2018), Macalester received 5,985 applications, accepted 2,468 (41.2%), and enrolled 621.[22] For enrolled first-year students the middle 50% range of SAT scores was 650-730 for critical reading and 660-770 for math, while the ACT Composite range was 29–33. Of the 43% of enrolled freshmen who submitted high school class rank, 63% were in the top 10% of their high school classes and 91% ranked in the top quarter.[22]


Macalester has 188 full-time faculty, 94% of whom have a doctorate or the highest degree in their field.[3] Twenty-nine percent of faculty are international or U.S. citizens of color.[3] Macalester has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1 and an average class size of 17.[3]

Academic program

Macalester offers over 800 courses and 39 majors.[3] Students are also able to design their own interdisciplinary major.[23] Courses are available in the physical sciences, humanities, mathematics and computer sciences, arts, social sciences, foreign languages, classics, several interdisciplinary fields, and pre-professional programs.[24] Pre-professional programs includes pre-law, pre-medical, a cooperative architecture program, and a cooperative engineering program.[25] The most popular majors (in order) are economics, mathematics, biology, psychology, and political science.[3]

Under an agreement with Washington University’s School of Architecture in St. Louis, students may complete three years at Macalester before transferring to Washington University for a senior year of accelerated architectural study, leading to a B.A. from Macalester.[25] Three years of graduate study at Washington University then leads to a Master’s in architecture.[25]

The academic calendar at Macalester is divided into a 14-week fall semester (September to December) and a 14-week spring semester (January to May).[23] All courses are offered for semester credit. Most courses are offered for four semester credits, but the amount of credit may vary.[23]

During January, Macalester students may earn up to two semester credits in independent projects, internships, or Macalester-sponsored off-campus courses.[23] Additionally, Macalester students may earn up to eight semester credits in independent study during the summer through independent projects or internships.[23]

Study abroad and off-campus

Macalester College has a long tradition of providing opportunities for students to build an international and intercultural perspective into their college education through international or domestic off-campus study. Students may propose participation from among an ample array of overseas and domestic programs relevant to Macalester’s liberal arts curriculum.

About 60% of Macalester students study abroad before graduation.[26] Eleven departments require off-campus study for completion of a major.[27]

Macalester has programs in the Netherlands, South Africa, Germany, Austria (e.g. at the University of Vienna), Singapore, and France.

Academic consortia memberships

Macalester is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC), a consortium of five liberal arts colleges in Saint Paul and Minneapolis formed to develop cooperative programs and offer cross-registration to their students. Other members include University of St. Thomas, Augsburg University, Hamline University, and St. Catherine University. In addition to over 800 courses available on campus, Macalester students have access to all courses offered through the consortium without paying additional tuition. ACTC provides free busing between the campuses to all students.

Macalester also has an agreement with the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) whereby students may take one course per term at that college, provided that Macalester has approved the course.[29]

Tuition and financial aid

Macalester is committed to providing financial aid packages equal to the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students. Two out of three Macalester students quality for need-based financial aid. Macalester also provides merit-based scholarships to around half of all students (most also receive need-based aid). Macalester's comprehensive tuition, room, and board fee for the 2019-2020 academic year is $68,884.[30]

Student life

Student body

Macalester is known for its high international enrollment for its institutional type as a percentage of its student body.[31] As of fall 2018, international students constitute approximately 24% of the student body.[3] Its 2,174 students come from 50 U.S. states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the Mariana Islands and 97 countries; 31% of the U.S. student body are students of color.[3] Macalester's student body is 40% male and 60% female.[32]

Student organizations

The main campus newspaper is the student-run The Mac Weekly, which has a circulation of up to 1,600 and was established in 1914. Almost all the newspaper staff works on a volunteer basis. The paper publishes 12 or 13 volumes, ranging from 12 to 24 pages, each semester. A satirical section, The Mock Weekly, is added to the last issue of each semester. The paper has published a magazine three times, in April 2006 and March and November 2007.

There are over 100 student clubs and organizations on campus, including the college radio station WMCN, the Macalester Peace and Justice Committee, Chanter Literary and Arts Magazine, the Experimental College, Student Labor Action Coalition, African Music Ensemble, Macalester Gaming Society, Mac Anime, Macalester Mock Trial, Mac Dems, Mac GOP, Mac Greens, Bad Comedy, Fresh Concepts, The Macalester Review: A Political Magazine, The Hegemonocle Humor Magazine, a cappella groups including Scotch Tape, Sirens, Chromactics, Off Kilter, and The Trads; Cheeba, MacBrews, MacSlackers, MacBike, the Macalester Outing Club, the Macalester Climbing Club, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), Macalester Conservation and Renewable Energy Society (MacCARES), Fossil Free Mac, Macalester International Organization (MIO), MacPlayers, NARAL Macalester Activists for Choice, Queer Union, Macalester Young Artists for Revolutionary Needlework (MacYARN), Macalester Quiz Bowl, Mac Rugby, Medicinal Melodies, the Physics and Astronomy Club, Club Water Polo (Sons of Neptune), and the Macalester Ultimate Frisbee Teams (Blue Monkeys and Purse Snatchers).

Civic engagement

Macalester is one of only 360 institutions that has been awarded the prestigious Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for excellence in civic engagement. Civic engagement is a core component of the Macalester education and is included in its mission statement.[33] The college actively encourages student dialogue by bringing in speakers, hosting an International Roundtable to bring distinguished international scholars to discuss emerging global issues, and hosting collective meetings such as Women of Color.[34]

Macalester links academic learning to community involvement. In 2011-2012, 16 departments offered 59 courses with civic engagement components.[35] Each year approximately 200 students complete internships, 65% of which are in the non-profit sector, schools, government, or the arts.[34] Macalester also allows students to earn their work-study financial aid award while working at a local non-profit or elementary school.[34]

Almost all (96%) of students volunteer in the Twin Cities community while at Macalester.[3] Many student organizations encourage active civic engagement, including MPIRG, Maction, Queer Union (QU), Macalester Habitat for Humanity, and more.[34]

Macalester is the primary financial contributor and sponsor of the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, which was founded in 1967 and has its main facilities in the Lampert Building. MITY provides two different gifted education programs during the summer months and one on weekends during the academic year.[36] Macalester also participates in Project Pericles, a commitment to further encourage civic engagement at the college.[34] In 2000, Macalester signed the Talloires Declaration, making a commitment to environmental sustainability, as well as a sweatshop pledge, making a commitment to fair-labor practices in the purchase of college apparel.[34]

LGBTQ community

Macalester is widely recognized as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly colleges in the nation. The Campus Pride Index awarded Macalester a full five out of five stars for LGBTQ-friendly campuses.[37] In 2007, The Princeton Review named Macalester the most gay-friendly college in the nation.[38]

For people whose gender expression is not always recognized, Macalester has started an initiative to ensure access to single-stall and all-gender bathrooms across campus.[39] Macalester also offers all-gender housing on campus.

Macalester has a student-powered Gender and Sexuality Resource Center that aims to build a culture of resistance against all forms of oppression.[40] There are also many active LGBTQ student organizations and groups on campus including Queer Union, Allies Project Training, and the Macalester Out and Proud Community.[40]


The athletic teams of Macalester College are nicknamed the Scots. Macalester is a member of the NCAA Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) in all sports except football. The Scots' football team set an NCAA Division III record by losing 50 straight games from 1974 to 1980. In 2018 this record was broken by Earlham College who lost 51 straight games.[41] In 1977, Macalester set a Division III record by allowing 59.1 points per game. The losing streak ended in dramatic fashion: Kicker Bob Kaye put a 23-yarder through the uprights with 11 seconds remaining in an early September 1980 contest as the Scots beat Mount Senario College.[42] The Scots left the MIAC after the 2001 season and competed as an independent until 2014, when they joined the Midwest Conference. Under head coach Tony Jennison, Macalester won the Midwest Conference title, the Scots' first conference football title since 1947.[43] Macalester also won nine games in 2014, the most ever in a Scots' single season in their 121 years of intercollegiate football.[44] Previously, the college actually dissolved the football program in 1906, pronouncing, according to the Mac Weekly: "Thoroughly aroused to the evils, real or imaginary, of this game, the public is clamoring for the entire abolition or reform on this 'relic of barbarism.'"

Soccer has always been a popular sport at the college. Both men and women's teams remain competitive, appearing in multiple NCAA playoffs since 1995. The women's team won the NCAA championship in 1998.[45] The 2010 men's team won the MIAC regular-season championship and both the men and women's teams received at-large bids for the 2010 NCAA Division III tournament. Both teams are well-supported by students, parents and alumni. One of Macalester sports fans' most (in)famous cheers – "Drink Blood, Smoke Crack, Worship Satan, Go Mac!" – was cited as one of "7 Memorable Sports Chants" by Mental Floss.[46]

The Cross Country Ski team became a club team in 2004, when skiing was eliminated as an MIAC sanctioned sport. A women's hockey team formed in 2000 and continues to play at the club level.

Macalester Athletics compete in a new athletic facility, the Leonard Center, which opened in August 2008. The $45 million facility encompasses 175,000 square feet. The Leonard Center includes a 200-meter track, a natatorium, a fitness center, several multipurpose rooms, and a health and wellness center for the college community. Materials from the former facility were disposed of in environmentally friendly ways, and some materials were incorporated into the new structure.[47]

The Macalester Women's water polo team has won their conference championship in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Every year in early May, Macalester hosts the Al Storm Games, a fun competition between various athletes at Macalester consisting of various events such as a Hunger Games simulation.[48]


Old Main, Macalester College
Old Main
Location1600 Grand Ave.
Saint Paul, Minnesota
ArchitectWilliam H. Willcox
Architectural styleRomanesque Revival
NRHP reference #77000765
Added to NRHPAugust 16, 1977


As at many small liberal arts colleges, students at Macalester are required to live on campus for their first two years. Limited all-gender housing options have been implemented by the college at select housing options starting in 2007.

Residence halls

  • Dupre Hall, which houses first-year students and sophomores, is located on the corner of Summit and Snelling Avenues, and was built in 1962. Renovated in 1994, Dupre houses about 260 students and is Macalester's largest residence hall.
  • Turck Hall was built in 1957 and most recently remodeled in 2004. It houses nearly 180 first-year students.
  • Doty Hall was built in 1964 and is one of two residence halls on campus to feature single-sex floors. In 2012, Doty 1 was designated the gender-neutral or all-gender floor.
  • Bigelow Hall is on the corner of Grand Avenue and Macalester Street. Built in 1947 and most recently remodeled in 1992, it is connected via tunnels to Wallace, Doty and 30 Macalester Street and features single-sex and co-ed floor arrangements. It is also connected to Turck via a skyway, and houses sophomores.
  • George Draper Dayton Hall (GDD) houses sophomores, juniors and seniors, typically in suites of four to six occupants.
  • 30 Macalester Street is one of the newest residence halls on campus, and is more handicap accessible than other residence halls and houses a small number of students. It is a quiet and substance-free living community.
  • Wallace Hall is the oldest residence hall on campus, built in 1907 and renovated in 2002. It houses sophomores.
  • Kirk Hall houses upperclassmen and is located between the Campus Center and the Leonard Athletic Center. It contains singles, doubles, and triples. The doubles and triples each consists of a common room with singles branching off of it.
  • With the opening of the Institute for Global Citizenship, Summit House, which previously housed the International Center, has been converted into a residence hall housing 16 students.
  • There are three cottages on campus.

Specialty housing

  • Summit House: Located across Snelling Avenue from Dupre Hall, the Summit House offers residence for up to sixteen upperclassmen. Starting in the Fall 2011 semester, the Summit House operated on a per semester cycle exclusively for students studying abroad for one half of the school's year.
  • Veggie Co-op: Located under the bleachers of the stadium, it houses 20 students who eat vegetarian meals together for most of the week. All food in the house is vegetarian. Students buy and make food together for their joined meals.
  • Cultural House: Located at 37 Macalester Street, residents of the Cultural House are usually required to work or volunteer for the Department of Multicultural Life and engage in moving towards a more diverse, accepting, and open campus environment.
  • All-gender housing (part of Kirk Hall)
  • Eco-House
  • Language Houses: Students are expected to speak the language of their particular house as much as possible. Currently there are six Language Houses, focusing on German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin.
  • Inter-Faith House: Located in section 8 of Kirk, the Inter-Faith House is for students wishing to explore faith in their lives and the lives of others.

Food services

Food services on campus are provided by Bon Appétit, a national company. The cafeteria, located in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center, is called Café Mac. Three different meal plans are available for students who live on campus. All freshmen are required to have the highest meal plan offered.


In the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, Macalester received an overall grade of "A−", earning it the recognition as an "Overall Campus Sustainability Leader".[49] In 2011, The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) awarded Macalester College a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements.[50]

There are many student organizations on campus that focus on sustainability, including Macalester Conservation and Renewable Energy Society (MacCARES), Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), Mac Bike, Macalester Urban Land and Community Health (MULCH), and Outing Club.[51]

In April 2003, Macalester was able to install a 10 kW Urban Wind Turbine on-campus thanks to that year's senior class gift donating the installation cost and Xcel Energy donating the tower and turbine.[52] The student organization MacCARES is currently developing a proposal for Macalester to invest in a Utility-Scale Wind Turbine in the range of 2MW.[52] Other projects include the Eco-House, a student residence with a range of green features and research opportunities; a rain garden which prevents storm water from running-off into ground water, a bike share program, and a veggie co-op.[53] Recently, the Class of 2008 designated its senior class gift to a Sustainability Fund to support initiatives to improve environmental sustainability on campus and in the greater community.[53] On January 1, 2013, Macalester started on campus composting.[54]

Macalester declared a goal in September 2009 to become carbon neutral by 2025 and Zero-Waste by 2020.[55] The school is a signatory to the Talloires Declaration and the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, the latter obligating the college to work toward carbon neutrality.[56] On April 18, 2012, President Brian Rosenberg signed the “Commitment to Sustainable Practices of Higher Education Institutions on the Occasion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development”.[57]

In 2009, the school opened Markim Hall, a LEED Platinum building that houses the school's Institute for Global Citizenship.[58] The building uses 45% less water and 75% less energy than a typical building in Minnesota. Macalester is currently planning on remodeling its Music, Theater, and Art buildings and is designing them to Minnesota B3 Guidelines.

Recent sustainability efforts have highlighted the intersection of social justice and climate change at Macalester, as well as the potential conflict between the college's on-campus sustainability and its investments. Since 2012, the college has received criticism from students for making significant endowment investments in fossil fuel companies, including direct investments in oil & gas private partnerships. The student organization Fossil Free Mac[59] has led a campaign urging the college to divest from fossil fuel companies. The campaign initially proposed full endowment divestment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies, which was not approved by Macalester's Social Responsibility Committee in 2015.[60][61] In 2018, a revised proposal[62] by Fossil Free Mac, advocating for a moratorium on the college's direct investment partnerships with oil & gas companies, was unanimously approved by the Social Responsibility Committee and is being considered by the board of trustees.[63][64] The divestment campaign has received significant support from the student body, student government, faculty, staff, and alumni.[65]

Notable alumni

See also


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  41. Darling, Kurt (November 13, 2018). "Earlham College Suspends Football Program On Heels Of College Football's Longest Losing Streak".
  42. "Worst college football teams of all time". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
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  49. "Macalester College". Green Report Card. 2011. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
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  58. Archived August 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  59. "Fossil Free Mac". Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  60. The Mac Weekly (2015-05-01). "SRC does not recommend fossil fuel divestment - The Mac Weekly". The Mac Weekly. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  61. "For College Endowments, Ethical Stands Can Be Complicated". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2013-03-18. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  62. Fossil Free Macalester (November 27, 2017). "Proposal by Fossil Free Macalester to the Social Responsibility Committee to end Macalester College's Oil and Gas Private Partnership Investments" (PDF).
  63. Macalester College Social Responsibility Committee (March 30, 2018). "SRC Report on Oil & Gas Moratorium" (PDF).
  64. Catlin, Hannah (2018-04-19). "Divestment proposal recommended by SRC, will go to Trustees". The Mac Weekly. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  65. "Macalester Alumni Open Letter Supporting Fossil Fuel Divestment". Mission Investor. 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2018-06-11.

Further reading

  • Kilde, Jeanne Halgren. Nature and Revelation: A History of Macalester College (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) 400 pp. ISBN 978-0-8166-5627-1
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