Mount Mary's History
Mount Mary’s roots are deep in the heritage of Wisconsin. Since its founding in 1913, the university has provided a welcoming atmosphere to support students to achieve success and transform their lives through education.
1872—St. Mary’s Institute opens in Prairie du Chien.
1897—On the occasion of the institute’s 25th anniversary, the school changes its name to St. Mary’s Academy.
1910—St. Mary’s Alumnae Association, the nucleus of the present association, is organized.
1913—The first college curriculum goes into effect at St. Mary’s Academy in Prairie du Chien. On October 28, St. Mary’s Academy became St. Mary’s College, chartered by the state of Wisconsin to grant degrees. It is the first four-year Catholic college for women in Wisconsin. Three young women make up the first graduation class of St. Mary’s College.
Archived Digital Yearbooks
--made possible by the generosity of the Mount Mary Alumnae Association
In 2011, in celebration of Mount Mary's 100 year anniversary, the University placed several yearbooks in digital format. These searchable files are a reminder of our identity -- our mission -- yesterday, today and tomorrow. Click the photo above to access the yearbooks.
- St. Mary’s College in Prairie du Chien is recognized by the North Central Association of Colleges as an approved college.
- Archbishop Messmer of Milwaukee requests that St. Mary’s College move to Milwaukee in order to make Catholic education available to a wider group of students and also to provide for its students the advantages of a metropolitan center.
1928—On September 12, the cornerstone of the new school, renamed Mount Mary College, is
- In August, Dr. Edward A. Fitzpatrick is appointed president of Mount Mary College.
- On September 16, Mount Mary officially opens its doors to 132 young women. The college consists of two buildings of Gothic style: Notre Dame Hall, with classrooms and administrative offices, and Caroline Hall, the student residence hall. One month and eight days later, the stock market crashes and the Great Depression begins.
1930—On June 10, Archbishop Messmer of Milwaukee gives the first commencement address.
1934—In April, the School Sisters of Notre Dame celebrate the 100th anniversary of their founding.
1953—On May 19, ground is broken for Fidelis Hall, a residence for the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and Kostka Hall, a building housing an auditorium. The cornerstone is laid on October 1.
1964—On December 19, Bergstrom Hall—the location of the college dining rooms, bookstore
and post office, opens.
- Mount Mary College launches the first four-year fashion design and merchandise management program in the nation.
- The university’s Historic Costume Collection, consisting of significant 20th century womens’ couture and ready-to-wear garments begins in the Fashion Department.
1969—Mount Mary College establishes its annual Starving Artists’ Show®, held the first Sunday after Labor Day.
1974—Mount Mary College’s social work undergraduate degree program becomes the first private college in Wisconsin to have a baccalaureate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
1981—On October 9, the Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Library is dedicated.
1982—In September, Mount Mary begins its first graduate program—Master of Science in Dietetics.
1986—The interior design program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.
1990—Mount Mary launches a Master of Science in Art Therapy program and a Master of Arts in Education: Professional Development program.
1995—The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program is accredited.
- The Mount Mary College Women’s Leadership Institute is launched.
- Mount Mary College receives a Title III grant of $1.75 million from the U.S Department of Education to enhance technology and innovation in the area of academic computing.
2000—“Celestial Conversations,” a major work by renowned metal sculptor Richard Hunt,
is installed and dedicated near Caroline Hall.
2001—The U.S. Department of Education awards more than $141,000 to Mount Mary College from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education (FIPSE) to support development of the college’s Leadership for Social Justice course.
- On June 11, ground is broken for the Gerhardinger Center.
- The State of Wisconsin Board of Nursing grants approval for a partnership program offering a joint Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Mount Mary College and Columbia College of Nursing.
2003—Enrollment reaches more than 1,600 students.
- Mount Mary’s capital campaign closes after reaching $28 million, far surpassing the original goal of $16 million.
- The Midtown Program (now called the Grace Scholars Program) is established and is designed to make higher education accessible to young women in Milwaukee’s central city.
2005—Enrollment reaches more than 1,700 students, for the fourth year in a row, the highest
in Mount Mary College’s history. For four years, Mount Mary ranks among the highest
enrollment growth of U.S. Catholic women’s colleges.
- In June, Mount Mary College’s Women’s Leadership Institute sponsors the first annual NEW Leadership™ Wisconsin program in Wisconsin, in affiliation with the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
- Mount Mary College’s newest building, the Bloechl Recreation Center, opens.
- In January, Mount Mary College begins offering the Master of Arts in English program.
- Mount Mary College and its service learning agenda is named to the U.S. President’s Higher Community Service National Honor Roll. Mount Mary is the only institution of higher learning in Milwaukee and one of only nine in Wisconsin to receive this honor.
- The Urban Education Fellows Program (UEFP), a teacher training consortium administrated by Mount Mary College and Alverno College, receives a $1.2 million grant. UEFP prepares men and women who already have a bachelor’s degree to teach in urban elementary and middle schools.
- Mount Mary College students initiate a new service project through the establishment of a community garden. The produce is donated to Second Harvest of Wisconsin and other local Milwaukee nonprofit agencies.
- In January, Mount Mary College launches a Master of Business Administration program.
- In July, Mount Mary College expands its Master of Science in Counseling program to include concentrations in community, school and pastor counseling.
- Mount Mary College establishes a radiologic technology undergraduate major through a consortium with the Radiology Alliance, which includes Columbia St. Mary’s, Froedtert and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Joseph hospitals.
- In January, Mount Mary College joins with Columbia St. Mary’s and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Francis hospitals to add a diagnostic medical sonography undergraduate major.
- In February, Dr. Eileen Mihm Schwalbach is named Mount Mary College’s 11th president. Her inauguration celebration takes place September 11.
- In September, Mount Mary College’s athletic programs join the NCAA Division III.
- In December, the Mount Mary College administration signs an agreement with Gateway Technical College allowing Gateway Tech associate degree graduates to transfer credits to Mount Mary to earn a bachelor’s degree.
- In February, the Master of Science in Counseling program receives the National Certified Counselor credential from the National Board for Certified Counselors, becoming one of only four other Wisconsin higher education institutions to earn this credential.
- In February, President Eileen Schwalbach and Mount Mary’s College in the Community program is awarded the 2009 Program Innovation Award from ProLiteracy America, the nation’s largest adult literary organization.
- In May, the first Mount Mary MBA program graduates cross the stage at commencement.
- In July, Mount Mary College signs a transfer agreement with Waukesha County Technical College.
- The Master of Science in Counseling program adds a clinical mental health counseling concentration.
- In May, the annual student-designer fashion show moves off-campus for the first time.
- In July, Mount Mary College’s first cohort of the Professional Doctorate of Art Therapy program begins. The program is the first of its kind in the United States.
- In July, Mount Mary College receives a grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to design and implement a Students Building Bridges program to serve the needs of the college’s diverse student body.
- In August, the Promise Program, funded by a TRIO grant, begins. The program serves first-generation and/or low-income students.
- The first floor of the Haggerty Library is renovated to house a new Student Success Center and Learning Commons with facilities for academic resources, career advising and student counseling as well as a new computer lab and Starbucks café. Other campus upgrades include additional electronic classrooms, a Barnes and Noble College Bookstore and the Parkway Place grill in Caroline Hall.
- In May, the annual student-designer fashion show expands to include all arts and design students. The new annual event is named CREO and includes arts and design student exhibits as well as the runway-style student-designer fashion show.
- In July, Mount Mary College and the Medical College of Wisconsin sign a collaborative agreement to provide a dual degree program for students to earn a four-year baccalaureate degree from Mount Mary and a one-year Master of Public Health degree from the Medical College. It is the first 4+1 program of its kind to be offered by the two institutions.
- Mount Mary University’s college yearbooks from 1930 to 1995 are digitized and made available online.
- In July, Mount Mary is renamed Mount Mary University. The institution’s Board of Trustees approved the name change February 12, 2012.
- Mount Mary celebrates its 100th anniversary through numerous events and celebrations.