History of The University

The University of Scranton was founded as Saint Thomas College by Most Reverend William G. O’Hara, D.D., the first Bishop of Scranton, who had always hoped to provide an opportunity for higher education in the Lackawanna Valley. In August 1888, with few resources at hand, he blessed a single block of granite as a cornerstone for his new college, which would admit its first students four years later. The cornerstone of Old Main is preserved in the wall of St. Thomas Hall.

The college was staffed by diocesan priests and seminarians until 1896 and then, for one year, by the Xaverian Brothers. From 1897 until 1942 the school, which was renamed The University of Scranton in 1938, was administered for the Diocese by the Christian Brothers. In the late summer of 1942, at the invitation of Most Reverend William Hafey, D.D., 19 Jesuits, led by Rev. Coleman Nevils, S.J., the newly appointed president, arrived on campus to administer the University.

The Jesuits restructured and strengthened Scranton’s traditional and pre-professional programs with an emphasis on the liberal arts, which are the foundation for every program at a Jesuit university. This emphasis is intended to give Scranton students an appreciation for all disciplines as they develop specific subject knowledge.

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The University has flourished under the Jesuits, growing from a primarily commuter school with fewer than 1,000 students to a broadly regional, comprehensive university with a total enrollment of more than 6,000 students in undergraduate, graduate and nontraditional programs.

In these early years of the 21st century, the University is building on its historical and educational heritage guided by the 2005-2010 Strategic Plan, entitled “Pride, Passion, Promise: Shaping Our Jesuit Tradition.” In May 2010, the Board of Trustees approved the University’s 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, “Go and Set the World on Fire.” The broadly integrated plan consists of three themes that have their roots in our Ignatian identity: Cura Personalis (treating others, especially students, as individuals, just as God treats us), Magis (a relentless desire for excellence grounded in gratitude) and Rei Solicitudo (a commitment to careful stewardship of the resources entrusted to our care).

On September 16, 2011, before delegates representing nearly 100 colleges, universities and learned societies from across the country joining nearly 2,000 dignitaries, students, faculty, staff and community members, the University conducted an Inauguration Ceremony for its 25th president, Kevin P. Quinn, S.J.

The University remains committed to enriching the quality and variety of its academic offerings. In addition, it continues to invest in its physical plant, opening a 118,000-square-foot campus center and 386-bed sophomore residence hall in 2008. In fall 2011, Scranton also welcomed two more facilities to the city's skyline: the Loyola Science Center and an apartment and fitness complex on the 900 block of Mulberry Street.

The 200,000-square-foot science center is home to 22 class and seminar rooms, 34 laboratories and a multistory atrium. It is a fitting home to Scranton's rich legacy of science education, and serves as a center of collaborative learning for all members of the campus and community.
The apartment and fitness complex, which consists of the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., Hall and Montrone Hall, stands directly across the street from the Patrick and Margaret DeNaples Center and provides fitness space, a dining area and apartment-style units to accommodate 400 juniors and seniors.

Plans are also under way for a new $47.5 million, eight-story center for rehabilitation education for our highly successful exercise science, occupational therapy and physical therapy programs.  The expected completion date for the project is the summer of 2015.