Since 1984 Loras has been listed in Peterson's Competitive Colleges and was included in the New York Times "Best Buys in College Education." In 1990 the college ranked tenth among 232 Catholic colleges in the United States and 152nd among 1,500 four-year liberal arts colleges and universities in the number of graduates later--earning a doctorate. Acceptance of health science graduates included 100 percent of those applying in dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry, dental hygiene, and nutrition. The acceptance rate for those applying to medical schools was 79 percent, with 94 percent acceptance in veterinary medicine and 98 percent in nursing.
Loras was established in 1839 as Saint Raphael's Seminary by Bishop Mathias LORAS, Reverend Joseph Cretin, and Reverend Samuel MAZZUCHELLI. Located at the rear of ST. RAPHAEL'S CATHEDRAL, the seminary first served four seminarians brought by Bishop Loras from France. The principal of the institution was Dennis MAHONY.
Bishop Loras soon became dissatisfied with the seminary that provided education for theological students, young local boys of high school age, several DAKOTA boys, and several half-breeds from Minnesota. The school was moved south of Dubuque along the present MILITARY ROAD. In 1850 the school was renamed MOUNT ST. BERNARD'S COLLEGE AND SEMINARY. Enrollment was then only seventeen students served by six faculty members.
Father Joseph Cretin served as the president of the college until his departure to become the first bishop of St. Paul, Minnesota. Father Andre Trevis, appointed as the second president, quarreled with Bishop Loras and was dismissed. In 1885 Loras became the third president of the college and served in the position until his death.
By 1856 it was clear that Loras' dream of a preparatory school, junior college, university, and seminary in one location was unsuccessful. The seminary was closed and the rest of the facility became a mixture of high school and college students. Upon the death of Loras, Bishop Clement SMYTH showed little interest in the institution. Financial difficulties prior to the CIVIL WAR were felt as early as 1857. In 1860 the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, who had operated a boarding academy in Dubuque and been counted on as a source of students, left Dubuque. Enrollment further declined, and the preparatory and college courses were dropped in 1860.John HENNESSY came to Dubuque in 1866 and recognized the need to continue the school. Mount St. Bernard's became a summer retreat for seminarians. Students were housed again in Dubuque, some at the home of Judge Pollack on Julien Avenue. In 1873 the school was moved to West 14th Street to a building that had been used as a young ladies' seminary by the SISTERS OF CHARITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (BVM).
Bishop Hennessy renamed the school SAINT JOSEPH'S COLLEGE. The school offered a four-year college and high school program. Its first president was Reverend William Downey. In 1878 a new college building was constructed by Reverend P. J. McGrath, the college's second president. Extensions were made by Reverend Roger Ryan, the third president. The direction of the domestic department of the college became the responsibility of the Franciscan Sisters of Dubuque in 1879.
Under the leadership of Reverend Mark Cooney, who became the president in 1891, the college was incorporated under the laws of Iowa in 1893 and authorized to grant academic degrees. In 1894 Rev. John P. Carroll became the new president. Carroll had the distinction of being the first graduate of St. Joseph's to become its president and the first American-born priest to serve as rector over the Dubuque diocesan college. In June 1895, six of the fifteen graduates received Bachelor of Arts degrees.
The tenure of Reverend Daniel M. Gorman saw the college's greatest expansion of grounds and building. The high school department was extended and the four-year course begun in 1915.
From 1914 to 1919 the institution was called Dubuque College. It was admitted to the North Central Association of Colleges in 1917. In 1934 the summer extension school department, opened by the Catholic University of America, was made a part of the regular academic program.
Dubuque College became co-educational in 1919 through a change in the college charter. This allowed laywomen and sisters to attend summer school.
In 1920 the name of Dubuque College was changed to COLUMBIA COLLEGE after a bitter controversy with the DUBUQUE GERMAN COLLEGE over names. Similarly named, the two institutions were often confused. The issue went to district court where Dubuque College prevailed. Before the case was appealed by the Dubuque German College, a compromise was reached. Dubuque College became Columbia College while the Dubuque German College was renamed the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE.
Reverend John C. Stuart served as the college president during WORLD WAR I when the school established several military training units. An endowment fund of one million dollars was raised prior to the war and received as one of its first major gifts $200,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Recognition of the fine academic preparation given students continued to be received by the school. In 1919 Columbia College was granted membership in the American Association of Colleges. In 1923 the New York Board of Regents placed Columbia on its list of approved schools. Columbia was placed on the approved list of the Association of American Universities in 1928.
Continued growth in the physical structure of the college was matched by expansion in the academic program. Columbia established its museum in 1927 and began a graduate summer school course as a branch of the Catholic University of America in 1934.CHRIST THE KING CHAPEL was built in 1947 as a memorial to servicemen.
On August 21, 1987, officials from CLARKE COLLEGE and Loras announced that their boards were investigating the possibility of consolidation. The Loras Board of Regents and the Clarke Board of Trustees met on October 30 to discuss the board structure for such a combined school.
Merger plans ran into their first obstacle on December 10 when the Loras faculty voted to oppose the merger. The faculty claimed they were not being involved in the planning and needed more information.
Merger plans continued. On January 22, 1988, the presidents of the two colleges announced that their respective boards had approved the merger and that it would occur in the fall of 1990. Loras faculty met on February 24, 1988, and gave their full support to Monsignor James BARTA in a move seen by some to make him president of the united college. The next day Loras students overwhelmingly voted to postpone the merger plans. Results of the vote were sent to the college administration. In March two consultants arrived to work with the students, faculty, and staff and make recommendations on the plan.
On April 7 a proposed schedule of events leading to merger was announced, but on April 29 officials abruptly announced the merger was canceled. The boards of the schools chose to look into five areas of cooperation including joint meetings of the boards of trustees, continued joint academic programs and student activities, cooperation in financial areas and sharing facilities, exploration into a joint theological graduate program, and creation of a joint committee on cooperation to continue joint planning.
Athletic teams fielded by Loras have gathered an impressive list of achievements. The women's golf team had five consecutive top finishes in the NCGA Division III Tournament. The college has produced over seventy All-Americans in the decade of the 1980s including seventeen with GTE-Academic honors in 1989-90. Since joining the Iowa Conference in 1986-87 the men's track team has won the championship every year.
Famous graduates of Loras have included Aloysius SCHMITT, David RABE,Thomas TAUKE, and James ROMAGNA. Every January Loras hosted the NATIONAL CATHOLIC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT which attracted thirty-two teams, sixteen men's and sixteen women's, from twelve states in competition for the title.
Presidents of Loras College
Most Rev. Joseph Cretin 1839-1850
Rev. Ande Trevis 1850-1855
Most Rev. Mathias Loras 1855-1858
Rev. John L. Gosker 1860-1863
Rev. Thomas O'Reilly 1867-1873
Rev. William Downey 1873-1877
Rev. P.J. McGrath 1877-1882
Right Rev. Roger Ryan 1882-1891
Very Rev. Mark Cooney 1891-1894
Most Rev. John P. Carroll 1894-1904
Most Rev. Daniel M. Gorman 1904-1918
Right Rev. John C. Stewart 1918-1921
Most Rev. Edward D. Howard 1921-1924
Right Rev. Thomas Conry 1924-1939
Right Rev. Michael J. Martin 1939-1947
Right Rev. Sylvester D. Ludy 1947-1951
Most Rev. Loras T. Lane 1951-1956
Right Rev. Dorance V. Foley 1956-1966
Right Rev. Justin A. Driscoll 1967-1970
Mr. Burton R. McQuillan (Acting) 1971
Rev. Msgr. Francis Friedl 1971-1976
Dr. Pasquale Di Pasquale Jr. 1977-1987
Rev. Msgr. James O. Barta 1987-1994
Dr. Kenneth W. Kraus (Acting) 1994-1995
Dr. Joachim Froehlich 1995-2001
Dr. Joseph Gower 2001--
Dr. James E. Collins 2004--
A unique gathering occurs with the 1958 Loras graduates. Several decided to get together now and then for a sandwich. The group, calling itself "the 58 Gubs," has grown to approximately twenty-five, although not all attend regularly.
Loras College. YouTube user: ohS_llEBeU8
E-mail. Ron Birch