History & Traditions

In 1867, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne purchased a farm south of Rensselaer on which there were already two frame dwellings. These were converted into an orphanage that existed until 1887. One year later, The Most Reverend Joseph Dwenger, Bishop of Fort Wayne, offered the vacant orphan home with part of the farm to Father Henry Drees, C.PP.S., then Provincial of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, with the stipulation that a college be founded there. In 1889, Saint Joseph's College was incorporated under the laws of the State of Indiana with the right to grant scholastic degrees. The College opened its doors on August 23, 1891.

The educational program in the early years was on two distinct levels, the high school and the junior college. The aim was to prepare students for professional schools and seminaries, for teaching and for immediate entry into business. The new college passed its first major milestone June 16, 1896, when it presented diplomas to 12 students, its first class of graduates.

The original aims of Saint Joseph's changed little until 1925. At that time the College was converted into a minor seminary and for a period of seven years admitted only students preparing for the priesthood. The status of academy and junior college was reestablished in 1931, and plans for the expansion of the school were formulated. Saint Joseph's began to operate as a senior college in l936, and in June 1938, its first four-year class was graduated.

 In the next three decades, Saint Joseph's grew from a school of a few buildings to a contemporary college. The expansion was carefully designed to utilize the 130-acre campus to serve the educational needs of Saint Joseph's students. In 1951, in response to the need for a Catholic college in the Calumet region of northwest Indiana, the College began an extension program in East Chicago. This program developed to the point that in 1963 it was granted the status of a campus, known as Saint Joseph's College Calumet Campus, and is now a separate institution known as Calumet College of Saint Joseph.

In 1968, the College ended its 79-year policy of admitting male students only on campus during the regular school year. The change to a coeducational institution was made to widen the range of students contributing to the College's intellectual atmosphere and to create an air of better social and academic involvement on campus. Saint Joseph's offers a wide spectrum of programs and courses for women students, who have responded by enrolling in all academic areas of the College.

Fr. Charles Banet, C.PP.S. '50 (left) with George Halas (right), founder of the Chicago Bears.The introduction of the Core Curriculum in the fall of 1969 shifted the direction of general education courses from that of a series of separate courses to an interdisciplinary approach. This combined the previous courses into a program examining issues of history, philosophy, theology, literature and other subjects with a historical framework. The interrelated nature of all subject material in the Core Curriculum allows the student to have an overview which permits deeper understanding and clearer insights. Improving and expanding the quality of academic offerings is a continuing process at Saint Joseph's.

In the summer of 1993, two years after Saint Joseph's College celebrated its centennial, the presidency was assumed for the first time by a lay person, Dr. Albert Shannon. Father Charles Banet, C.PP.S.'s term of 28 years represented the last and longest of the 14 priests who held that office over the school's 102 years. However, the association with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, both in terms of the priests and brothers who are still serving Saint Joseph's College and the C.PP.S' involvement in the future of the College continues.

The decade of the nineties saw new building and growth at Saint Joseph's College. The Rev. Charles Banet, C.PP.S. Core Education Center was dedicated in 1995 and the new Residential Suites were opened to students in the Fall of 2000. The College also added a fitness center and an outdoor track and field facility in 2000. In 2007-2008 other facilities were renovated including Noll Hall, the Library, Theater, and the Richard Scharf Fieldhouse.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About SJC

  1. The Chicago Bears held their annual training camp at SJC 1944-1974.
  2. The late actor Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, Talladega Nights) attended SJC for one year in the early 1980s.
  3. SJC graduate Gil Hodges ’43 was an eight-time All-Star in Major League Baseball and managed the 1969 New York Mets to a World Series victory.
  4. Parts of the 1971 movie Brian’s Song were filmed on SJC’s campus.
  5. SJC Professor of Biology Dr. Neal Haskell was an expert witness at the Casey Anthony trial.


Chicago Bears at SJC

A Painted History of Saint Joseph’s College

Nancy Lynch, the painter of the Halleck Student Center mural, describes the history portrayed in her beautiful work of art.

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  • Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Like Elementary Education major Brittany Cooper ’12, you start your major as soon as you walk in the door, so you will have four years of knowledge and experience in your field.You can even change your mind about your major and still graduate on time with lots of experience.

    Core and the major work in harmony to develop the cognitive skills requisite for success in a competitive, global society. Students better understand the forces that shape the future by exploring the past. They discuss contemporary events; analyze the impact of science on our understanding of humanity and the universe; and investigate diverse cultures and world civilizations. 

  • Mentorship

    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors, such as Communication Professors Fred and Sally Berger, do more for you—they serve as mentors. Studies show that having a mentor leads to success in your field. Alumni often tell us how their professors not only played a major role in their success, but also became lifelong friends.  If you are undecided about what to major in, we help you decide.

  • High Quality Academics

    In the Core Program, you will be inspired to debate, analyze, and solve problems. Discussion of culture and society, the modern world, and Christian Humanism are just a few highlights of the Program. New perspectives will be gained, your worldview will expand, and you will graduate from SJC as a well rounded, highly marketable person.

  • Leadership

    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life. LaMichelle Sanders ’14, for example, has spent two summers helping Chinese study abroad students adapt to life in the U.S. and at SJC. If you want to start a club or activity that doesn’t exist, we encourage you to start one. At SJC, prepare yourself for what you want to do in life.

  • Real-life Skills

    Because of the skills you develop by having the Core Program interact with your major for four years in addition to internships, job shadowing, and service learning, you get hands-on experience in preparation for your career or graduate school. Students Hanna Kane ’14, Emily Baird ’15, and Alyssa Guarnaccia ’14 collect food in the SJC hoophouse to be distributed on campus. You will also get four years of analytical, writing, and speaking skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

  • Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Get a jump start on your career and have your resume ready to go at graduation.  

  • Mentorship

    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors do more for you—they serve as mentors.

  • High Quality Academics

    The Core Program is all about you and your role in the world.

     

  • Leadership

    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life.

  • Real-life Skills

    Get real-life experience and become an excellent communicator.