Benedictine College

Benedictine College
Motto Forward. Always Forward.[1]
Type Private liberal arts college
Established 1971 by the merger of Mount St. Scholastica College (1923) and
St. Benedict's College (1858)
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Endowment $17.05 million[2]
President Stephen D. Minnis
Dean Kimberly C. Shankman
Undergraduates 2,113[2]
Location Atchison, Kansas, U.S.
39°34′26″N 95°06′53″W / 39.57394°N 95.11465°W / 39.57394; -95.11465Coordinates: 39°34′26″N 95°06′53″W / 39.57394°N 95.11465°W / 39.57394; -95.11465
Campus Rural
Colors Black & Red
Athletics NAIAHeart of America Athletic Conference
Nickname Ravens
Affiliations ACCU

Benedictine College is a co-educational university in Atchison, Kansas, United States, founded in 1971 by the merger of St. Benedict's College for men and Mount St. Scholastica College for women. It is a Roman Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts, and residential college located on bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, northwest of Kansas City, Missouri. Benedictine is one of a number of U.S. Benedictine colleges, and is sponsored by St. Benedict's Abbey and Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. The abbey has a current population of 53 monks, while the Mount monastery numbers 147 community members. The college has built its core values around four "pillars"—Catholic, Benedictine, Liberal Arts, Residential—which support the Benedictine College mission to educate men and women in a community of faith and scholarship. It is endorsed by The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.


Benedictine College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008.[3] The present-day college was formed in 1971 by the merger of St. Benedict's College, a men's college, and Mount St. Scholastica College, a women's college.

At the request of Most Rev. John B. Miège, S.J., Vicar Apostolic of Leavenworth, two Benedictine monks arrived in Atchison from Doniphan and opened St. Benedict's College, a boarding school, in 1858. It was named for Benedict of Nursia, founder of modern western monasticism. The mainly classical school curriculum was intended to prepare students for the priesthood. The monks, who had recently arrived in the Kansas Territory, then moved their community to Atchison and founded the present-day St. Benedict's Abbey. It expanded to include commerce subjects to cater to the needs of the local population, which was primarily pioneers and settlers. Over the years the college continued to expand and by 1927 it was an accredited four-year liberal arts college.

In 1863 the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, whose namesake is Benedict of Nursia's twin sister Scholastica, arrived in Atchison and founded St. Scholastica's Academy (now Maur Hill – Mount Academy) for local young women. In 1924 Mount St. Scholastica's Junior College was opened so these young women could continue their tertiary education. It became a senior college in 1932 and was authorized to confer bachelor degrees.

In 1970, Fr. Alcuin Hemmen, OSB, president of St. Benedict's College, announced that St. Benedict's would become a co-educational college. Sr. Mary Noel Walter, OSB, president of Mount St. Scholastica College had been proposing a merger of the two colleges for over a year. Following Fr. Alcuin's announcement, Sr. Mary Noel organized discussion of a merger.[4] It was agreed upon, and the universities merged on July 1, 1971 to form the current Benedictine College. The separate colleges' corporations remain in existence for scholarships and land ownership purposes[5] and allowed the newly formed college a free 50-year lease of the separate colleges' facilities on their campuses. Benedictine College terminated the lease of the facilities on its South Campus from Mount St. Scholastica College on October 1, 1989 amidst financial hardship.[6] It continues to lease property from St. Benedict's College.


  1. Sr. Mary Noel Walter, OSB, Ph.D. (Acting, July 1, 1971 to February 12, 1972)
  2. Fr. Gerard Senecal, OSB, Ph.D. (February 12, 1972 to May 29, 1987)
  3. Sr. Katherine Delaney, OSB, Ph.D. (Acting, May 29, 1987 to 1988)
  4. Thomas O. James, Ph.D. (1988 to 1995)
  5. Daniel J. Carey, Ph.D. (1995 to 2003)
  6. Stephen D. Minnis, J.D. (2004 to present)


The most popular majors at Benedictine are Business, Education and Theology. Commerce, teaching and the faith are historically significant interests of both the college and the Benedictine order.[7]

The School of Business offers five specialized bachelor's degrees and specialized EMBA and MBA degrees. The college publishes the Journal of International Business.[8]

The Education Department offers licensure programs in Elementary Education (K-6); Special Education (K-6 and 6-12); Secondary (6 - 12) and (Pre-K-12) and in Education in Biology, Chemistry, English/Language Arts, French and Spanish, History/Government/Economics/Sociology, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education/Health, Psychology, and Physics. The school offers a Master of Arts in School Leadership (PreK-12).[9]

The Theology Department grew out of St. Benedict's Abbey School of Theology and is the result of a 2007 shift from a Religious Studies program to a Catholic Theology program. The school publicly acknowledges that all Theology professors are to have signed the canon-law mandatum[10] as implemented by the U.S. bishops,[11] and to take the oath of fidelity.[12] The National Catholic Register's Catholic Identity College Guide[13] notes that the president has made a public profession of faith and taken the oath of fidelity; the majority of the board of trustees is Catholic and the school's mandatum requirement is public. According to the Cardinal Newman Society's "The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College" guide,[14] the theology department shares the college's institutional commitment to the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Benedictine College recently added an Engineering Department in which students earn ABET-accredited degrees in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering or Chemical Engineering.[15] Another recent addition is a fully accredited nursing program, dedicated to Mother Teresa of Calcutta who once visited Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison.[16][17]

Benedictine College's Discovery Program gives students the opportunity to create and present original projects in any discipline. In 2010, Discovery Day included 80 presentations featuring the works of 145 students, 40 faculty/staff members, and 18 academic departments; "more than 1800 students have participated in Benedictine’s Discovery Day events since its inception in 1996. In that time, most faculty members and academic departments have taken an active role in sponsoring student projects."[18]

Performing arts

The college offers programs in the performing arts, in majors such as Art, Music, Music Composition, and Theatre Arts with interdisciplinary majors in Music Marketing, Music Education, and Theatre Arts Management, with minors available in Dance, Theatre Arts, and Music. The college features two performance spaces: the Mabee Theatre seats approximately 130 and the O'Malley-McAllister Auditorium seats around 545 people. The Abbey Church is also utilized for organ recitals, orchestra, and choral performances.

The college's music department traces its roots to Mount St. Scholastica Academy, now the modern Maur Hill - Mount Academy, when in 1863 the Benedictine sisters were said to have first purchased a house and then a piano. The music department of the college was one of the first cooperative departments between the former two colleges, having been formed in 1964.

Faith life

Mass is offered to students four times daily in several places, including St. Benedict's Abbey in its Abbey Church, St. Benedict's Church (a parish connected to one of the campus dorms, Elizabeth Hall), and St. Martin's Chapel (located within the basement of another dorm, St. Martin's Memorial Hall). The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), an evangelical Catholic collegiate leadership apostolate, was founded at Benedictine College by Curtis Martin. Other active religious groups on campus include Communion and Liberation, Pax Christi, Ravens Respect Life, Partners in Prayer (in conjunction with Mount St. Scholastica), Great Adventure Bible Timeline, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Households and Varsity Catholic.[19] and the Knights of Columbus

The college hosts pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land as well as local pilgrimage sites.[19]

Campus worship opportunities[20] include: Life of Prayer, Divine Praise Night featuring adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Thursday night prayer meetings, traditional Catholic processions and Guadalupe Day. Many students participate in perpetual adoration at St. Benedict’s Parish on the edge of campus. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is recited weekly. The president leads the rosary weekly in the chapel.[19]

Students are invited to pray the Divine Office with the monks in St. Benedict’s Abbey or the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. Lectio Divina is also offered at the Mount.[19]

There are several places of prayer on or adjacent to campus: St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Benedict’s Abbey Church, Outdoor Stations of the Cross, Guadalupe Chapel and St. Joseph Chapel in the Abbey. Retreats, conferences and performances that college ministry offers to students includes Jam for the Lamb,” and BC Koinonia.[19]

The school built Mary's Grotto, located in the center of campus, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann dedicated it in 2009.[21] It is one of three outdoor devotional spaces dedicated to Mary located on the campus. The grotto is the site of the May Crowning "send-off" of student vocations to the priesthood and religious life.[22] The college is located within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, though it is not run by the Archdiocese.

In 2014, the school renamed its student union the St. John Paul II Student Center on the day of Canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.[23]


Academic buildings

The main buildings of Benedictine College are all dedicated to someone or are an important part in BC's history.[24]

Building name Function of building
Amino Center Classrooms, Weight room, and Football Locker Room and coaches offices
Bishop Fink Hall Departments of Art, Music, and Architecture
Dining Hall Dining service (Aramark)
College Library Library
Cray–Seaberg Hall Classrooms and offices on first two levels
Ferrell Academic Center Education Department, School of Business, and Departments of Theology and Philosophy
Haverty Center Athletic Department, Old Gym and Raven Roost
Murphy Recreation Center Weight room, multipurpose room, 50-yard turf field, track, basketball courts
Mother Teresa Center for Nursing and Health Education Nursing Department
Snowden House President's house
St. Benedict Hall Administration and faculty offices; Mabee Theatre
St. Benedict's Abbey Church Church services, places for study
St. John Paul II Student Center Recreation Center and O'Malley–McAllister Auditorium, O'Malley Gymnasium, Sister Mary Noel Walter Atrium
Westerman Hall Science Building

Residence halls

Building name Function of building
Courtney S. Turner Hall Freshmen male dorm that houses 140 students; St. Augustine's Lounge
Cray–Seaberg Hall Residence Hall on 3rd Floor that houses 42 women
Elizabeth Hall Houses 142 women (generally juniors)
Legacy Apartments A collection of four halls (Legacy Hall, Kremmeter Hall, Wolf Hall and Lemke Hall) that houses 288 upperclassmen
McDonald Hall "Suite style" female dorm that houses 160 sophomore women; Schroll Center
Newman Hall Male dorm that houses 140 freshman and sophomores
Row Houses Two houses (Harman & Schirmer) that can fit up to 27 occupants, which are usually upperclassmen (can vary from all-male to all-female)
St. Joseph Hall Housing for 35 male upperclassmen
St. Martin's Memorial Hall A freshman female dorm that houses up to 90 women; St. Martin's Chapel (located on the ground floor)
St. Michael Hall Male dorm
St. Scholastica Hall A freshman female dorm that houses 140 women
Our Lady of Guadalupe Hall Female residence hall that houses 120 women


Main article: Benedictine Ravens
Rocky, Benedictine's mascot

Benedictine College teams are known as the Ravens. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC). The Ravens compete in fifteen varsity sports. Benedictine’s cheerleading and spirit squads have been recognized nationally.

The mascot "Rocky the Raven" is associated with St. Benedict, as legend has it a raven would bring the sixth-century saint food during his time as a hermit in the mountains near Subiaco, Italy. The legend also has the raven saving St. Benedict from eating poisoned bread.

Notable alumni


External links

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