Higher Education Seeks to Instill Knowledge, Faith
Catholic education in the United States wasn’t always a given. It began as a concerted effort of bishops and other diocese leaders, clergy, pastors, Religious, parishioners and parents who wanted their children to have the benefits of an education that provided spiritual guidance as well as academic instruction.
Establishing and instilling this tradition, from primary grades to the collegiate level, was an aspiration to which Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, D.D., the first bishop of the Diocese of Newark (established in 1853), gave high priority.
“In our present position, the schoolhouse has become second in importance to the House of God itself…[our ambition is to have]...every Catholic child in the state in a Catholic school,” Bishop Bayley had asserted.
He realized that in order to be effective in his mission, he needed the help of the Diocesan community. He reasoned, “No one can fill that most important office so effectually as Religious women.”
In 1857 a group of Benedictine Sisters arrived from Pennsylvania to assist in this endeavor, and in the following year Bishop Bayley sent five women to train with the Sisters of Charity. Many other communities of Religious men and women joined the Diocese in the next decades, all with the same purpose—to further Catholic education with diocesan and parish schools and learning institutions.
Largest and Oldest Diocesan University in the U.S.
Bishop Bayley saw the need for a Catholic college, which was filled on August 31, 1856 with the opening of Chegary Academy in Madison. In 1860 the school, renamed Seton Hall, in honor of the Bishop's aunt, Saint Elizabeth Bayley Seton, a pioneer in Catholic education herself and the first American-born saint, moved to its present location in South Orange and was incorporated into a college by the state of New Jersey in 1861.
Seton Hall University
The college was organized into a university in 1950, following an unprecedented growth in enrollment. The College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of business, nursing and education comprised the university; the School of Law opened its doors in 1951, with Miriam Rooney as the first woman dean of law in the United States, a progressive move in the spirit of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.
The next two decades saw the construction of a library, science building, residence halls and the university center. Many new programs and majors were inaugurated, as were important social outreach efforts. New ties were established with the private and industrial sectors, and a growing partnership developed with federal and state governments in creating programs for the economically and educationally disadvantaged.
The 1970's and 1980's continued to be a time of growth and renewal. New business and nursing classroom buildings and an art center were opened. In 1984, the Immaculate Conception Seminary returned to Seton Hall, its original home until 1926, when it moved to Darlington.
The recreation center was dedicated in 1987. With the construction of four new residence halls between 1986-88 and the purchase of an off-campus apartment building in 1990, the university made a significant change to its previous identity as a primarily commuter institution. Seton Hall is now recognized as a residential campus, providing living space for approximately 2300 students.
The physical development of the campus continued in the 1990's. The $20 million Walsh Library opened in 1994 and its first-class study and research resources marked the beginning of a technological transformation of Seton Hall.
Jubilee Hall, the university's newest academic center, reflects Seton Hall's commitment to undergraduate education and the expanding role of information technology in higher education. All classrooms in this six-story 126,000 square-foot building are wired for network and Internet connections, and many of the lecture halls are equipped with distance-learning technology.
The John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations was founded in 1997 in an alliance with the United Nations Association of the United States of America.
In 1998, all incoming full time, first-year students were issued laptop computers as part of the university's nationally recognized mobile computing program.
This advancement, over a century and a half, backed by a history and tradition that provide a foundation upon which to continue building and prospering, reinforces the school's mission to prepare students to be servant leaders who will make a difference in the world.
Today, Seton Hall University, the largest and oldest diocesan university in the U.S., headed by Msgr. Robert Sheeran, S.T.D., President, has 58-acres and houses over 35 buildings, including eight residence halls. It has approximately 5,250 undergraduate students and 4,300 graduate students. This includes people from 45 U.S. states and countries all over the world.
About 72 percent of the student body is from the New Jersey area, clinching the institution's role as one of the premier providers of higher learning to residents of the Garden State.
First in New Jersey to Award the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
Caldwell College was founded as a Catholic liberal arts college by the Sisters of Saint Dominic under the leadership of Mother M. Joseph Dunn, O.P., with the approval of the Most Reverend Thomas Joseph Walsh, fifth Archbishop of Newark, who became its first president.
The college was incorporated on August 10, 1939, as an institution of higher learning for women. In 1952, Caldwell College received full accreditation from the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Caldwell has maintained this accreditation which was last reaffirmed in November 2000.
In 1974, Caldwell College became the first institution in New Jersey to award the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 1979, it became one of the few institutions in the state to offer a unique external degree program. In 1985, the Board of Trustees of the college voted to make Caldwell College fully coeducational, enabling men to receive the superior education and career preparation that women had been able to receive for fifty years. Caldwell College welcomed the first full time male students in the fall of 1986.
In November 1992, Caldwell College reached another plateau: the New Jersey Board of Higher Education granted approval for the College to offer the Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction. During the summer of 1993, the first graduate students began classes.
The college now offers nine graduate programs or degrees, along with a number of Post Baccalaureate and Post Masters’ programs. The college has consistently shown growth in the area of Graduate Studies, including the following additions: in 2000, the college was the first in New Jersey to offer a specialization in Art Therapy within the M.A. in Counseling Psychology; in 2001, the college initiated a Post Baccalaureate Teacher Certification Program in Special Education and a dual Certification Program in Early Childhood and Elementary Education; and in 2003, the college began offering an M.B.A. program in the Business Department.
Sister Patrice Werner, O.P., the Caldwell’s seventh and current president, oversees a student body of 2200 students. The student/faculty ratio is 13 to 1, providing small classes and individualized attention. The close relationship between faculty and students helps foster a spirit of camaraderie throughout the campus community.
The inherited Dominican integration of the arts, humanities and sciences, with the deepest expression of the contemplative and creative spirit of men and women, forms the basis of the educational philosophy of Caldwell College.
Programs Leading to Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees
Felician College, a coeducational liberal arts college, is a Catholic, private, independent institution for students representing diverse religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds. The college operates on two campuses, in Lodi and Rutherford.
Founded by the Felician Sisters of Lodi, it began as Immaculate Conception Normal School with the first summer session commencing on July 5, 1923.
For more than a decade, the Normal School trained in-service teachers and qualified them for state certification. On May 27, 1935, the Normal School was raised to the status of a teacher training college, approved by and affiliated with Catholic University of America. Students who belonged to a Religious order completed a maximum of seventy-two semester hours of their undergraduate work at the college and then transferred to Catholic University of America, Seton Hall College or Fordham University.
The institution became reorganized as a junior college in 1941, and on March 26, 1942, it was incorporated as Immaculate Conception Junior College.
In December 1963, the New Jersey State Department of Education granted to the college the power to confer, in its own name, the degree of Associate in Arts. By September 1964, the college extended its curriculum to admit the first class of laywomen.
At about the same time, St. Mary’s Hospital in Orange transferred its nursing program to Immaculate Conception Junior College. The first class of nursing students was admitted in September 1965.
In June 1967, the State Department of Education authorized Immaculate Conception Junior College to offer a four-year program in Elementary Teacher Education under its new name, Felician College.
In May 1986, Felician College became coeducational, accepting men and women into all programs and courses.
In 1989, Felician College was authorized by the New Jersey Department of Higher Education to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration
In September 1994, the College inaugurated Kirby Hall, 48,000 square feet of renovated convent space.
In 1995, the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education approved the college’s amended mission to include the offering of graduate programs and authorized the implementation of a Master of Science degree program in Nursing, the college’s first Master’s degree program.
In 1997, the State approved the college’s offering of a Master’s Degree in Catechesis (Religious Education). This program prepares people for ministries that seek to make God’s Word dynamic and intelligible to people at every stage in their lives.
State approval of M.A. programs in Teacher Education (1999) and English (2000) have helped the college broaden its commitment to a rising graduate student population.
At present time, Felician College has more than 1700 students. Commuters and residents attend day, evening and Saturday programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees in the arts and sciences, health sciences and teacher education.
An Honors Program offers special opportunities for independent study, research and leadership on campus and in the community. Sister Theresa Mary Martin, C.S.S.F, President, heads the institution.
Saint Peter’s College
Preparing Students for a Lifetime of Learning, Leadership and Service
Saint Peter’s College, the Jesuit College of New Jersey, was founded as a liberal arts college for men in 1872. In 1918 the college closed as a result of World War I. It reopened in 1930 on the fourth floor of the Chamber of Commerce Building in downtown Jersey City, and women were admitted to the Evening Session for the first time.
Saint Peter’s College
In 1936 the college moved to its present location on Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City. Saint Peter’s became fully coeducational in 1966 when women were admitted to the Day Session. In 1975 Saint Peter’s established a branch campus, a “college for adults,” in Englewood Cliffs.
The college offered its first graduate program in education in 1980.
Saint Peter’s is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. and the only one in New Jersey.
With an 18-acre main campus in Jersey City, and a second campus for adult learning in Englewood Cliffs, the college has an enrollment of approximately 3,700 full time and part time students.
Saint Peter’s College, under the leadership of its president, Father James N. Loughran, S.J., Ph.D., seeks to prepare its students for a lifetime of learning, leadership and service in a diverse and global society.
Catholic higher learning is as competitive today as it is instrumental in providing not only a sound and first-rate education, but a source of instilling values that are critical to more spiritually attuned and socially aware students. The four Catholic colleges of the Archdiocese of Newark continue the legacy that they began decades—sometimes over a century—ago to offer to people of all faiths the advantages of learning from some of the most prominent theologians, intellectuals and teachers, be they individuals or Religious orders as a whole, in the world.
Information for this article was obtained from archdiocesan records and the colleges’ websites.
Reprinted form The Catholic Advocate, Official Commemorative Edition, October 15, 2003.