Our History

Milestones

1853 - Four German-speaking Sisters of Saint Dominic first arrived in New York City in 1853, leaving behind the security of their convent of the Holy Cross in Regensburg, Germany. The sisters opened a school on Second Street in lower Manhattan.

1883 - Thirty years later, at the request of the pastor of St. Mary's Church in Newburgh, a small group of the Sisters of Saint Dominic from the Second Street Convent opened Mount Saint Mary Academy in Newburgh, just off Gidney Avenue, on the grounds of the 7-acre McAlpine estate.

1913 - The Sisters purchased the adjoining 33-acre Van Duzer estate, comprised of “Rosenhof,” a villa mansion in the Gothic Revival style of architecture promoted by Andrew Jackson Downing; the carriage house; the ice house; and the hothouse. Rozenhof was renamed the “Villa Madonna,” and this structure today houses the Offices of the President, Academic Affairs, Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions, Enrollment Management, International Studies, Community Relations and News Services, Marketing, and the Associate Dean. The stable became the Domus Angelorem, and is today called Whittaker Hall.

1927 - As the Dominican Sisters' reputation for academic excellence became legendary, they outgrew the school's facilities rapidly. The new school, called Greater Mount Saint Mary, opened in 1927 as the high school. A storehouse was rebuilt as the Casa San Jose and it served as the elementary school.

1930 and 1934 - The Sisters’ growing involvement in education made clear the need for a teacher training program. In 1930, the Mount Saint Mary Normal and Training School was certified by the New York State Education Department as a teacher training institute. This would certify the sisters to teach in NY elementary schools and enable them to enroll in any college in the state to complete work for a degree.

1950 - The Casa San Jose had served the sisters well, but a new facility was needed to meet the growing needs of the elementary school. In 1950, the new Bishop Dunn Memorial School was accredited by the Middle States Commission on Elementary Education.

1954 - The Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York granted the Mount a provisional charter to grant the degree of associate in arts upon the completion of the registered three-year curriculum.

1959 - The Board of Regents voted to amend the college's charter on October 3, 1959 and the Mount became a four-year liberal arts college.

1960 - The Mount opened its doors to the first class of lay women and the college embarked on an amazing period of growth.

1963 - Aquinas Hall, named after Saint Thomas Aquinas, opened as the centerpiece of the college's academic life. Guzman Hall opened this same year and served as the residence hall for the young Dominican novices.

1964 - The Mount celebrated the commencement of its first graduates from the four-year liberal arts college known as Mount Saint Mary College. There were 32 graduates in the Class of 1964.

1968 - The college received full accreditation from the Middle States Association. In the spring of that year, the first and only male student began taking classes at the new co-educational Mount Saint Mary College. By 1970, 58 male students were enrolled at the college.

1976 - In August of this year, Sr. Ann Sakac was designated acting president of the College. Sr. Ann's predecessors were: Mother Leo Vincent Short, OP (1960-1964), the first president and co-founder of the college; Sr. Mary Francis McDonald, OP (1964-1972); and Dr. William T. O'Hara (1972-1976).

1984 - The college's first master's degree program was introduced, leading to a Master of Science in Special Education. The late Sr. Frances Berski, a beloved professor at the Mount, is largely given credit for this milestone.

1991 - Alice Curtis Desmond bequeathed her Balmville estate to the Mount. Today, the Desmond Campus for Adult Enrichment offers community education in the arts, sciences, hobbies, and fitness, and the L.I.F.E. (Learning Is Forever Enriching) and Road Scholar programs. 

1992 - The Elaine and William Kaplan Recreation Center opened, providing much-needed facilities for recreational and intramural activities, as well as intercollegiate sports. The new center featured basketball and volleyball courts, seating for 1,500, a weight training room, aerobics room, athletic training facilities, lounges, a snack bar, an indoor track, and a pool, as well as classrooms.

1996-1999 - The college purchased the Newburgh Jewish Community Center property in 1996, and completed renovations to the new Hudson Hall in 1999. Hudson Hall offered 10 state-of-the-art, smart classrooms, a multipurpose auditorium, a café, lounges, and the Education Curriculum Library.

2003 - The demand for student housing was at an all-time high when Sakac Hall, named in honor of Sr. Ann Sakac, president of Mount Saint Mary College, opened its doors to freshmen women. This aesthetically pleasing building offered students the best in campus living and unsurpassed views of the Hudson River.

2004 - A new and improved Guzman Hall opened in the fall of 2004. Founders Chapel, named in honor of the Dominican Sisters who founded the college, and Guzman Hall were both re-dedicated on the same day in 2004.

2006 - On May 5, the College broke ground for the construction of a new 53,000 square-foot Mathematics, Science and Technology Center addition to Aquinas Hall. The college publicly announced the Answering the Call campaign to raise $10 million toward this project. The new Center provides state-of-the-art biology, chemistry, and computer labs and enables the college to expand the Nursing Learning Resource Center on the second floor of Aquinas Hall.

2007 - The new Kaplan Family Mathematics, Science and Technology Center (MST) addition to Aquinas Hall opened in September. Construction began on the new Nursing Learning Resource Center in space on the second floor of Aquinas Hall. The new MST center features a 3,000 square foot atrium, a Career Center, and Jazzman’s Café.

2008 - The college completed a $30 million renovation project on the College Courts, now townhouse-style apartments on the north side of campus for the upperclassmen. On June 30, Sister Ann Sakac retired after 31 years as president of Mount Saint Mary College. Father Kevin E. Mackin, OFM, began his tenure as the fifth president of Mount Saint Mary College on July 1, and was inaugurated on October 17.

2009 - On May 1, the new MST Center was dedicated as the Kaplan Family Mathematics, Science and Technology Center, in honor of the family of William Kaplan and the Kaplan Family Foundation, which provided the lead gift of $5 million for the Answering the Call campaign.

2010 - The Mount saw the opening of The View, the renovated dining commons in Aquinas Hall. The new all-weather turf field for soccer and lacrosse was unveiled in September, and six new tennis courts were opened at the Kaplan Recreation Center.  

2011 - In July, the Mount purchased the Dominican Center and 13 acres of property from the Sisters. Planning began on center renovations and new parking areas. 

2012-2013 - The Mount began renovations on the Dominican Center, building a new library, dining hall, and student residences. A Call to Excellence: The Campaign for the Dominican Center was launched in September 2012, with the goal of raising $10 million for the Dominican Center renovation. The College unveils a new baseball and softball field, carved from land purchased with the Center. The College's School of Business is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). 

2014 - The new Mount Saint Mary College Library opened in January 2014 in the renovated Dominican Center. along with the newly-cleaned Chapel of the Most Holy Rosary. The Mount held a book procession, in which books symbolic of the College's divisions were passed from the old library up to the new library by members of the Mount community. Fr. Kevin E. Mackin, OFM, fifth president of Mount Saint Mary College, retired after six years of leadership, and Dr. Anne Carson Daly was appointed the sixth president of the College. On September 17, the Dominican Center was blessed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Special thanks to Dr. James F. Cotter, professor of English, for providing much of the milestone information.

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