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125th Celebration: A History of The University of Scranton

125th Celebration: A History of The University of Scranton

In Time for Christmas 

In 1888, the Most Reverend William G. O’Hara, D.D., arrived in northeastern Pennsylvania to found a college. Scranton has never been the same since. The remarkable story of  The University of Scranton is told from those earliest difficult times through 2013, from barely-able-to-stay-afloat days to national prominence.

This moving history, in coffee table book format, will be available in time for the Christmas holidays. You will be able to purchase the book online or at the University bookstore. Details on how to get your copy will be posted soon on the anniversary website, 125th.scranton.edu, and shared via Royal News. 

An Excerpt from the History of The University of Scranton

A light snow casts magic over the campus of The University of Scranton. In the Loyola Science Center, students discuss an equation as they scribble on a glass classroom wall. In a former church that now houses performing arts, conductor Cheryl Boga prepares for a band rehearsal that will bring future doctors, accountants, teachers, and business leaders together to make music for the love of it.

In O’Hara Hall, William J. Parente, Ph.D., a former dean, conducts a mock interview with an applicant for a Fulbright Scholarship for international study. And across the campus, Honors Students meet individually with professors in an innovative program that gives young scholars an opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty mentors.

The University boasts the usual offerings of a twenty-first century American institution, but with its own distinctive qualities. Its identity is shaped by its heritage in the Catholic Church and its location in the heart of the former coal-mining country of Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna River Valley. And it is steeped in a tradition that sees scholarship as a means to greater service.

At 125, the University offers over seven dozen undergraduate graduate programs to some six thousand students, and its core curriculum ensures all undergraduates are grounded in philosophy, theology, and the liberal arts, no matter what their major. “When our students finish their education here, we want them to be able to stand on their own two feet, have something to say, and say it well,” says a former administrator.

Bishop William G. O’Hara, D.D., who was appointed first spiritual leader of the newly created Diocese of Scranton, saw the need for such a college to educate the sons of immigrant laborers. On August 12, 1888, he presided over the laying of a pink cornerstone in a lot adjacent to St. Peter’s Cathedral in downtown Scranton.

Four years would pass before a building could be completed atop, and over the decades since then, the school would be buffeted by world events from World Wars to Afghanistan. Its graduates would thrive in fields from medicine to government and public service of all kinds. But that pink stone, made gray by time and weather, laid the foundation for what was to become a life-changing catalyst for tens of thousands of its sons and daughters. 

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