St. Catherine University

St. Catherine University (St. Kate's) is a private Catholic liberal arts university in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Established as one of the first institutions of higher learning specifically for women in the Midwest, the school was known as the College of St. Catherine until 2009.[5] Today St. Kate's offers baccalaureate programs for women plus graduate and associate programs for women and men.

St. Catherine University
Seal of St. Catherine University
Women's liberal arts college (undergraduate)
AffiliationRoman Catholic
Endowment$74.8 million (2016)[1]
Budget$128.3 million (2016)[2]
PresidentReBecca Koenig Roloff [3]
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

44°55′29″N 93°10′56″W
ColorsPurple and Gold          
AthleticsNCAA Division IIIMIAC
MascotA Wildcat

The university averages about 5,000 students annually.[4] It focuses on recruiting and enrolling minority students and nontraditional-aged students. St. Catherine's Weekend College — now College for Adults[6] — was the second such program in the nation and the first in the Upper Midwest.[7] St. Kate's was also the first private college in the nation to launch an effort to attract, welcome, and retain Hmong students, making it home to one of the largest populations of Hmong scholars in the nation.[8]



St. Catherine University was founded as the College of St. Catherine in 1905 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, under the leadership of Mother Seraphine Ireland. The University is named for St. Catherine of Alexandria, the fourth-century Egyptian lay philosopher who suffered martyrdom for her faith.[9]

A site for St. Kate's was chosen atop the city's second-highest hill in St. Paul — in the area now known as Highland Park. Hugh Derham of Rosemount contributed $20,000 for the first building. Derham Hall opened in January 1905, offering classes to high school boarding students and lower-division college students. The high school eventually moved to its own campus and merged with the Lasallian-run Cretin High School to form Cretin-Derham Hall High School in 1987. Upper-division courses were first offered in the academic year of 1911–12. In spring 1913, Bachelor of Arts degrees were conferred on the first two students to complete four years at the new institution. In 1917, St. Kate's earned full accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.[9]

During World War II, St. Kate's responded to a critical nursing shortage by expanding its programs to include a baccalaureate degree in nursing and assuming leadership of the St. Joseph's and St. Mary's hospitals and schools of nursing — and partnering with the U.S. Cadet Nursing Corps to provide students with financial assistance in exchange for nursing services. More than 170 St. Catherine alumnae served in military hospitals between 1942 and 1948.[10]

Prior to the 1970s, students would take classes at the nearby University of St. Thomas, which was then a men's college.

Expansion to Minneapolis

The St. Paul campus is the location for most day, evening/weekend, and graduate program classes, with 110 wooded acres in the Highland Park neighborhood, a central location between the Twin Cities' downtowns.[4] St. Kate's coeducational Minneapolis campus in the Riverside neighborhood offers associate degree and certificate programs in numerous healthcare fields. In 1887, the Sisters of St. Joseph responded to a need for trained nurses in the region founding the St. Mary's School of Nursing at St. Mary's Hospital in Minneapolis. Student nurses in the three year Registered Nurse program lived in a dormitory at the hospital while studying first year academics at the College of St. Catherine. In 1964, the hospital program was expanded and opened under the title St. Mary's Junior College. St. Mary's offered associate degrees in healthcare, including the first occupational therapy assistant program and the first physical therapist assistant program in the United States. St. Kate's acquired St. Mary's Junior College in 1985.[10] In 1987, Fairview Hospital combined with St. Mary's Hospital to become Riverside Medical Center.[11]

Move to University

On June 1, 2009, the College of St. Catherine changed its name to St. Catherine University.[9]

National Register of Historic Places

Derham Hall and Our Lady of Victory Chapel are co-listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

St. Kate's presidents

Over the years, 11 women presidents have overseen the growth of St. Catherine University:

  • ReBecca (Becky) Koenig Roloff '76, MBA (2016–present)
  • Andrea J. Lee, IHM, Ph.D; 1998–2016
  • Anita M. Pampusch ’62, Ph.D.; 1985–1997
  • Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ, Ph.D.; 1979–1984
  • Alberta M. Huber, CSJ, ’37, Ph.D.; 1964–1979
  • Mary Edward Healy, CSJ, Ph.D.; 1961–1964
  • Mary William Brady, CSJ, ’31, Ph.D.; 1955–1961
  • Antonine O'Brien, CSJ, ’26; 1949–1955
  • Antonius Kennelly, CSJ, ’26, Ph.D.; 1943–1949
  • Eucharista Galvin, CSJ, ’24, Ph.D.; 1937–1943
  • Antonia McHugh, CSJ; 1919–1937


Schools and colleges

At St. Catherine University, students enroll in one of three colleges:

  • the baccalaureate College for Women
  • the Graduate College
  • the College for Adults

Students then pursue their majors or programs of study, either at the University's St. Paul or Minneapolis campus, through four disciplined-based schools:

  • School of Business and Professional Studies
  • Henrietta Schmoll School of Health
  • School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences
  • School of Social Work

The Schools, collectively, are home to more than 100 fields of study — many available in both traditional day and nontraditional hybrid (evening, weekend and online) formats.[12] St. Kate's also has nearly 60 baccalaureate majors, plus another 35 or so through the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, as well as dozens of minors and nine pre-professional programs.


St. Kate's is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC), a consortium of five private liberal arts colleges located in Minneapolis or St. Paul. The partnership allows students to take classes or complete a major at any one of the other colleges. The University also partners with 900 clinical training sites to make clinical education meaningful and relevant to St. Kate's students.[13] Partner organizations include Allina Health System, Fairview Health Services, HealthEast Care System and HealthPartners.

In fall 2011, St. Kate's became the first university in Minnesota to partner with the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program (formerly known as the Peace Corps Fellows/USA program) to offer Peace Corps volunteers a fellowship to earn a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.[14]

Endowed Mission Chairs[15]

Unlike many colleges and universities that have established separate departments for Catholic studies, liberal arts and women's studies, St. Catherine University has established three distinguished chairs:

  • Endowed Chair in Catholic identity
  • Endowed Chair in Women's Education
  • Endowed Chair in the Liberal Arts

Each position is supported by endowed funds and a program endowment. The distinguished chairs will work as a team to:

  • initiate, plan and oversee faculty and staff development programming;
  • fund faculty and staff work focused on integrating the mission into syllabi, program
  • requirements and co-curricular activities;
  • purchase relevant library holdings and other materials;
  • serve as faculty resources, especially for visiting classes, recruiting speakers and planning workshops.


St. Catherine is the first Catholic college or university in the world to be granted a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, in October 1937.[16] St. Kate's graduates have earned advanced degrees at renowned institutions. This tradition dates back to the first president who regularly dispatched instructors for a term, a summer or an academic year to pursue graduate studies.[17] St. Kate's has produced Fulbright Scholars as well.[18][19]

St. Catherine educates women and men through undergraduate and graduate programs including associates, bachelors and graduate degrees. It has committed itself for more than a century to educating women to lead and influence.[20]

The student/faculty ratio is 10:1.[4] The average class size is 18 in the traditional/day program, 13 in the College for Adults, bachelor's program and 16 in the College for Adults, associate program.[4] At St. Catherine, classes are lively, involving discussion to improve a student's communication and critical thinking skills. Students will find a free-flowing exchange of ideas, perspectives and life stories, as well as opportunities for fieldwork, internships, study abroad and collaborative research with faculty.

In addition to taking courses directly related to their chosen majors, baccalaureate students are required to complete one or two additional courses in the arts, humanities and sciences to meet the University's liberal arts requirements.[21]

Online OTA Program

In 2014, St. Catherine University expanded its Occupational Therapy Assistant program to offer a blended learning option. Starting in Virginia, and then expanding to California and Texas, the Online OTA program features 80% online and 20% onsite curriculum, including skills labs and fieldwork experiences. The accredited program allows students to earn their associate degree in as few as 16 months.[22]

Research and Academic Centers

St. Catherine University offers opportunities for faculty-student research and mentoring through department and grant-funded initiatives — as well as through these programs and national centers:

  • Assistantship Mentoring Program (AMP) — creates the space for students and mentors to engage in intellectual creativity and collaboration through teaching, research, and program assistantships. To make the experience more viable for students, the program pays $11.25 an hour for approximately 10–12 hours per week per semester.[23]
  • Mayo Innovation Scholars program — This program brings together baccalaureate students from a variety of disciplines to research Mayo Clinic invention ideas and create business plans for a medical product. Graduate students from St. Catherine's Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program serve as mentors to student teams.[24]
  • WHIR Center — The Women's Health Integrative Research (WHIR) Center is a laboratory devoted to interdisciplinary research on women's health. In addition to motion-tracking equipment — such as a 3-D electromagnetic motion system, a metabolic measurement unit and a heart-rate monitoring system — WHIR also has a wet lab that supports the processing and storage of human blood and saliva samples. It's one of few academic facilities of its kind.[25] WHIR also functions as a ladder between degree programs in disciplines such as nursing, where students from two-year associate degree programs work alongside students earning their four-year or graduate degrees.
  • CATIE Center — St. Catherine University established the CATIE Center in 2005 as the Collaborative for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence.[26] It is one of the six centers working in partnership as the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers. The CATIE Center offers resources and programs such as the Body Language online modules, ASL Immersion, Deaf Mentor Training, and Interpreting for Deaf-Blind Mentorship for students and working professionals. The center hosts the National Symposium on Healthcare Interpreting, drawing more than 150 interpreters to St. Kate's each year.[27]
  • National Center for STEM Elementary Education — This center houses outreach programs and services related to fostering interest and skill in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among students as young as fourth grade.[28]
  • Human Anatomy Lab — St. Kate's is home to the second largest collegiate anatomy lab in the state.[29] The new 3,600-square-foot space includes two labs — each one large enough to accommodate nine bodies — plus showers, lockers, storage units and a cleaning room.[29] At least eight different academic programs use the lab, including orthoptics (undergraduate), physician assistant studies (master's) and physical therapy (doctoral studies). A religious service is held at the start of each semester to help students express gratitude for the generosity of their "silent teachers." The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, blessed the lab in September 19, 2011.[30]

Honors programs

First-year students or sophomores who have achieved at least a 3.5 GPA are eligible to apply for the St. Catherine University's Antonian Scholars program, which offers a rigorous academic program for promising learners, leaders, researchers, writers, performers and creative thinkers. Antonian Scholars are required to complete an independent creative project during senior year.[31] There are a total of 25 different Honor Societies.[4]

Study abroad programs

St. Catherine University offers more than 150 study abroad options in 50 countries, ranging in length from January term to yearlong. More than 200 St. Kate's students study abroad each year.[32]

Student life

Residence life

Eighty percent of St. Catherine's first-year students live in nine residence halls on campus.[33] Students have access to computer labs in the halls and resident advisors (RAs) who provide ongoing support, guidance and social activities. Each year, the university offers learning communities in some residence halls.

Clubs and organizations

St. Catherine University has more than 50 student organizations, including student Senate, intramural sports and a women's choir.[34] Students can work on two student publications (The Wheel and Ariston).


The St. Catherine University Wildcats compete in 11 intercollegiate sports in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).[35] Women's sports include basketball, golf, ice hockey, cross country, softball, swimming and diving, dance, track and field, soccer, tennis and volleyball. Club and recreational sports include aerobics, volleyball, basketball, soccer, tennis and rock climbing. Remodeled in 2015, the Aimee and Patrick Butler Center for Sports and Fitness at St. Kate's is a women-oriented sports center, complete with an eight-lane swimming pool, weight room, suspended jogging track, spa and sauna.[36] The benefits for student athletes are emerging at the University's Women's Health Integrative Research (WHIR) Center. WHIR's sophisticated equipment can establish baseline performance measurements and track athletic improvement over time.

Art and archives

St. Catherine University's fine art collection dates back to St. Kate's founding in 1905. Today, more than 1,000 pieces comprise the collection. Among them are works on paper — prints (etchings, engravings, woodcuts, lithographs and silkscreens), watercolors and drawings — as well as paintings and sculpture by artists of different nationalities and periods, including:

  • Corita Kent, one of America's most influential graphic design artists of the 20th century.
  • Adolf Dehn, who helped define regionalism and caricature in American art.
  • Clair Mairs, featured in Pioneer Modernists: Minnesota's First Generation of Women Artists.
  • Giovanni Piranesi, one of the most prolific printmakers of the 18th century.
  • Ade Bethune, who made unique contributions during the 20th century to the field of sacred art and architecture as an artist, writer and liturgical consultant.

In addition to paper files, the St. Catherine University archives contains more than 8,000 photographs and 4,500 artifacts.[37] The archives are packed with rare and valuable items: some from before the Christian era, others from the early days of printing, including a Heritage Edition of The Saint John's Bible.[38]

There is also the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, which is an extension of the University's mission to integrate the liberal arts and education. The gallery provides both the campus community and the public with access to art exhibitions, programming and the university's fine art collection, all of which seek to maintain a powerful women-centered presence in the local and regional arts communities. By showcasing contemporary as well as historical artwork by all genders, The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery emphasizes the visual arts as a method for illuminating and exploring global and emerging societal issues grounded in women's perspectives.[39]

Notable alumnae

See also


  1. "US News Education Rankings and Advice". US News Best Colleges 2015. US News Corp. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  2. Kennedy, Patrick. "Minnesota Nonprofit 100". StarTribune News. Minneapolis StarTribune. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  3. "ReBecca Koenig Roloff named St. Catherine University's 11th President", St. Kate's Newswire. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  4. University Facts, St. Catherine University. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  5. “St. Catherine University”, MNOpedia, January, 2017. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  6. "Adult Students | St. Kate's". St. Kate's. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  7. "Educating the Whole Person", pg 10, SCAN, January 2008. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  8. "One Big Extended Family", pg 5, SCAN, February 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  9. Our History., St. Catherine University. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  10. Our History With Healthcare Archived 2013-02-27 at the Wayback Machine, St. Catherine University. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
  11. Fairview Health Services Physician Recruitment and Retention. "Provider Opportunities at Fairview -- Our History". Fairview Hospital. Archived from the original on 2014-07-24. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  12. Admissions, St. Catherine University. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  13. Community Partnerships Archived 2013-01-18 at the Wayback Machine, Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  14. “Peace Corps Partners with MAOL”, SCAN, February 2011. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  15. Endowed Mission Chairs St. Catherine University. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  16. Phi Beta Kappa Society, St. Kate’s chapter. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  17. "A Higher Calling.”, SCAN, June 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  18. “St. Kate’s alumna lands Fulbright scholarship”, St. Kate’s News. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  19. "St. Kate's alumna garners Fulbright Research Grant", St. Kate’s News. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  20. Mission and Vision, St. Catherine University. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  21. Baccalaureate Liberal Arts and Sciences Core Requirements, St. Catherine University. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  22. "St. Catherine University (St. Kate's) Online OTA Program". St. Catherine Online OTA. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  23. Assistantship Mentoring Program, Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  24. “Anything But Ordinary”, pg 10, SCAN, June 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  25. “Alive and Kicking”, pg 18, SCAN, June 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  26. CATIE Center, St. Catherine University. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  27. “Healthcare interpreters give voice to patients”, St. Kate’s News. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  28. NCSEE, National Center for STEM Elementary Education. St. Catherine University. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  29. “The Hidden Wholeness”, pg 32, SCAN, October 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  30. “ New anatomy lab gets archbishop’s blessing”, The Catholic Spirit. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  31. Antonian Scholars St. Catherine University. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  32. Global Studies St. Catherine University. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  33. Residence Halls & Apartments, St. Catherine University. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  34. Clubs and Organizations, St. Catherine University. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  35. St. Catherine University Athletics, Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  36. Butler Fitness Center, Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  37. "Preserving a Century of Stories", SCAN, June 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  38. "St. Kate’s owns a limited reproduction of The Saint John’s Bible.” Archived 2013-02-27 at the Wayback Machine, St. Kate’s News. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
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