"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.
LORAS COLLEGE. Loras, Iowa's oldest college, offers four-year undergraduate programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Music degrees. Pre-professional programs offered in cooperation with other institutions include architecture, dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, optometry, physical therapy, and veterinary medicine.
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. (1) The College has functioned under several names (St. Raphael Seminary, MOUNT ST. BERNARD SEMINARY, St. Joseph College, DUBUQUE COLLEGE and COLUMBIA COLLEGE, finally adopting its present name during its centennial in 1939. (2)
Located at the rear of ST. RAPHAEL'S CATHEDRAL, St. Raphael's Seminary first served four seminarians brought by Bishop Loras from France, two Sioux and several local boys. (3)
Bishop Loras soon became dissatisfied with the seminary. The school was overcrowded with seventeen students, and he felt the city offered too many distractions. (4) In 1850 the seminary was moved south of Dubuque along the present MILITARY ROAD and renamed Mount St. Bernard's College and Seminary. Loras also obtained three square miles of farmland to provide food for the students and income for the school. (5)
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 was the second president. 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 facing serious difficulties. There was a lack of interest in higher education in the area. Making the situation worse, there were financial problems caused by the PANIC OF 1857 and few endowments. (6) Enrollment further declined, the preparatory and college courses were dropped and in 1860 Mount St. Bernard was closed. (7)
Bishop John HENNESSY came to Dubuque in 1866 and recognized the need to continue an effort to provide education. Students were housed again in Dubuque; some lived at the home of Judge Pollock on Julien Avenue. (8) In 1873 the school was moved to West 14th Street by the SISTERS OF CHARITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY (BVM) into a building that had been used as the Dubuque City Hospital. (9)
In 1873 Bishop Hennessy renamed the school St. Joseph College. The college offered a four-year college and high school program. A new building was added to the campus in 1874, but in 1878 both were demolished. A new four-story brick building costing $15,000 was constructed by Reverend P. J. McGrath, the college's second president. (10) The college offered three departments--preparatory, commercial, and ecclesiastical. (11)
The direction of the domestic department of the college became the responsibility of the Franciscan Sisters of Dubuque in 1879. (12) With the addition of courses in theology, priests were able to complete their theological and seminary training.
Bishop Hennessy closed the seminary in St. Joseph College in 1882. (13) He chose not to reopen Mount St. Bernard and began building a seminary on KELLY'S BLUFF. Having two educational institutions in Dubuque at that time, however, proved impossible, so construction stopped. None of this affected St. Joseph College which continued to thrive. (14)
In 1884 the addition of a wing onto the east side of the brick building was paid for by the parishes of Dubuque. Although the school could then accommodate four hundred students, only ninety-two enrolled. (15) The enrollment in 1886-1887 fell to fifty-two. Several issues created the problem. There were no endowment funds and no endowed scholarships. State and private schools were better equipped and many students attended school in the Davenport diocese. (16)
To attract students, the curriculum was changed. A classical, philosophical and theological course with Christian doctrine and foreign languages was added. The commercial course was discontinued in 1891, and the regular curriculum was lengthened to six years--four years of Classics and two years of Philosophy. (17)
In 1893-1844 under the leadership of Reverend Mark Mooney, who became the president in 1891, the college was incorporated under the laws of Iowa and authorized to grant academic degrees. (18) In June 1895 four men received their bachelor of arts degree. (19) 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.
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. (20)
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. (21)
The name Loras College, honoring Bishop Loras, was adopted in 1939. As part of a two-day observance of its centennial, a bronze statue of Bishop Loras was unveiled. The twelve-foot, $7,000 statue was placed on the highest location on the campus and dedicated by The Most Rev. Archbishop Francis J.L. BECKMAN. (22) CHRIST THE KING CHAPEL was built in 1947 as a memorial to servicemen.
Loras College was the scene of many activities aimed at world peace. A national leader of the peace movement, Archbishop Beckman used Loras to host a rally on October 20, 1939. (23) Anti-war forces used the college facilities again on May 29, 1940 for its "Midwest Peace Rally." (24) The largest rally was held on the weekend of June 21,22, 1941 in the newly completed Rock Bowl. An estimated seven thousand were involved in a field Mass for peace in honor of the Sacred Heart. (25) Such activities only ended with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
In the 1930s, Archbishop Beckman's interest in antiquities led to the founding of the COLUMBIA MUSEUM OF HISTORY, ART, AND SCIENCE and the MIDWEST ANTIQUARIAN ASSOCIATION The museum's collections after 1938 were valued over $1,500,000. (26) Funding for the collections and museum, however, led to Beckman's replacement.
Father Michael J. Martin, president of Loras, signed a contract with the United States Navy in 1942, through the Civil Aeronautics Administration War Training Service, for the college to participate in training aviation cadets in Navy V-1, V-5, and 4-7 programs. (27) College enrollment which had dropped during the war grew from 394 in 1944, 614 in 1945, and 1,387 in 1946. (28)
During the tenure of Archbishop Leo Binz, Loras underwent years of construction. Rohlman Hall, living quarters for ecclesiastical students were constructed in 1953; Wahlert Memorial Library, 1960; Beckman Hall, dormitory and art center, 1961; and work was started on St. Joseph Hall of Science. (29)
In 1959 Miss Rosalyn M. Schrup's donation in memory of his father Nicholas J. SCHRUP, Sr. and brother Charles Joseph SCHRUP made possible the installation of a foreign language laboratory. Located on the ground floor of Christ the King Chapel, the laboratory consisted of a control room and a listening room which contained twenty-eight individual listening booths. Loras instructors quickly assigned French, Spanish, German, and Latin classes for laboratory hours each week. (30)
In 1960 work on the Wahlert Memorial Library, named for H. W. (HARRY) WAHLERT was completed in July. During the second week in August an estimated 120,000 books and periodicals were moved from Keane Hall to the new library which could accommodate an estimated quarter-million books. (31) Plans for a new dormitory were announced. The building was to be located north of St. Joseph's Hall, the college's oldest building, along Loras Boulevard. The four-story residence hall would accommodate 248 students. This would be the sixth dormitory on campus. The other five provided housing for a total of six hundred students. (32)
In 1961 Loras constructed Iowa's first seismograph station on campus. The station was one of four supplied by St. Louis University to different sites in the Midwest for a study of earthquakes and other seismic waves. (33) In 1964 shock waves from the Good Friday Alaskan earthquake, which struck Alaska at 9:36 p.m., reached the Loras station at 9:43 p.m. The force of the shock waves caused considerable movement in the earth's crust in the Dubuque area for up to fifteen seconds and broke one of the seismographs. (34)
In 1963, the Catholic University of America decided to discontinue its branch program of graduate study on the Loras campus. Realizing the growing need for study beyond the baccalaureate degree, Loras initiated its Graduate Division offering the Master of Arts degree in some fields. (35)
Loras became coeducational in the fall of 1971. In 1973, the Associate of Arts and the Associate of Science degrees were introduced. The Division of Community Education was started in 1975. (36) In 1976 Loras announced the opening of the CENTER FOR DUBUQUE HISTORY.
On August 21, 1987, officials from CLARKE COLLEGE and Loras announced that their boards were investigating the possibility of consolidation. (37) 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. (38) 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. (39) 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 10 a proposed schedule of events leading to merger was announced. (40) On April 29, however, officials abruptly announced the merger was canceled. (41) 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.
Loras’ athletic teams are known as the Duhawks. The name was given to the football team by a Detroit Free Press scribe in 1924 by combining "Dubuque" and "hawks." The school fields 22 men’s and women’s varsity teams in the NCAA Division III. They are a member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC). Loras’ colors are Royal Purple and Gold, colors exemplified by the home football uniform of purple jerseys, gold pants and gold helmets with purple face masks. (42)
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. The Loras men's soccer team played in the Final Four NCAA Division III championships in 2012. (43) 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.
In 1997 the Tri-Colleges, University of Dubuque, CLARKE COLLEGE, and LORAS COLLEGE chose to end operating the Tri-College Education Department begun in 1986. Among the reasons for the change was different mission statements, governance, and salary structures. As a result of the breakup, Loras hired four additional faculty members for its education department. Located in Rohlman Hall, the new education department had 240 students making it one of the largest departments on the campus. Cooperation between the three school continued. If particular courses were not available on the campus of one school, they could be attended at either of the other two schools. A library system that linked all three campuses still existed and a shuttle service ran between all three campuses. (44)
Both the Undergraduate College and the Graduate Division of Loras College are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The teacher education program, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, is accredited by the Iowa Department of Education. The undergraduate teacher education program is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The American Chemical Society has approved the undergraduate chemistry program. Loras College is also approved by the Association of American Universities and New York Board of Regents. The Council of Social Work Education has accredited the social work major at the baccalaureate level. (45)
In April 1998 an announcement was made that anonymous donors were given Loras a total of $10 million, the fourth largest gift to a private college in Iowa and among the top seventy-five gifts to private colleges in the United States. The previous record of a donation at Loras had been $1 million from John Saeman of Denver, Colorado. The new donation was planned to be used toward the development of a Center for Catholic Studies, the endowment of a chair for Catholic thought, and general improvements to the campus. (46)
In 2014 the Interfaith Prayer Space opened at Loras in the Alumni Campus Center. The area allowed students of all faith and non-faith traditions a place to pray, engage in silent meditation, journal or gather to discuss faith-related topics. Better Together, an official Loras student group, helped the interfaith space become a reality. (47)
In April 2014 an anonymous donor allowed Loras College to establish the Public Opinion Survey Center to conduct periodic professional polls on political and social questions. (48) The first poll was released later in the month. The poll rose in importance ahead of the primary elections and when it correctly predicted all of the winners. The poll's results before the general elections were cited by national publications especially in the race for the United States Senate.
Loras College Television (LCTV) in 2015 was named Iowa's Collegiate Station of the Year for the sixth consecutive year. Media students also took first place in nine of eleven categories. (49) In the same month, February, three Loras students made history at the Delta Epsilon Sigma national writing competition. These students took three of the four possible first place finishes--the first time that happened in the event's history. (50) Loras College announced on August 26, 2015 they were awarded a $30,000 grant from the James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation. Grant funds would be used to purchase electronic classroom equipment that will make the newly renovated Loras College Center for Business Analytics on the third floor of Keane Hall a state-of-the-art learning facility. (51)
In November, 2015 Loras officials announced a new program to help students with autism thrive in school. Connections Academy, a four-year program, involves students with autism working with certified autism specialists at Loras' Lynch Learning Center. The Center has provided programs for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder for nearly thirty years. Students in the Academy will earn a bachelor's degree and develop skills in self-advocacy, socialization, and stress management. (52)
In 2015 the University of Dubuque, CLARKE UNIVERSITY, Loras College, and the Northeast Iowa Community College were named to the 2016 Military Friendly Schools list by Victory Media. The list designated the top 15 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that do the most to support military service members, veterans, and their spouses as students and ensure their success on campus and after graduation. (53)
On March 16, 2016 fire spread the attic area of the Loras College Visitation building housing student dormitories and the music and departments. Initially noticed by Radio Dubuque employees Josh Crowell and Mike Callaghan, the fire was thought the result of a lightning strike. (54) Initial estimates of damage were around $500,000.
Fire destroyed buildings and displaced SISTERS OF THE VISITATION OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY (SVM) on the same site on June 30, 1936. The blaze broke out at the far end of the complex where they lived and operated ACADEMY OF THE VISITATION (THE). Flames visible nearly everywhere in Dubuque and into Illinois and Wisconsin destroyed the 60-year old academy buildings, furnishings, and equipment with a loss estimated between $50,000 and $75,000. (55)
Community donations in 1936 allowed the sisters to reopen all thirteen grades of the academy on September 8, 1936. In 2016 a similar response assisted forty-five displaced students. Temporary housing was provided by both the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE and CLARKE UNIVERSITY. (56)
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.
1. "History of Loras College," Loras College. Online: http://www.loras.edu/About-Loras/History.aspx
3. Kruse, Len. My Old Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa, Center for Dubuque History, Loras College, 2000, p. 263
5. Schuster, Judy Burns,"Loras Has 125th Anniversary," Telegraph Herald, May 7, 1964, p. 29. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=VHZFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=nbwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4846,1148982&dq=st+raphael+seminary+dubuque&hl=en
6. Kruse, Len, p. 265
8. Gallagher, Mary Kevin, Seed/Harvest, Dubuque, Iowa: Archdiocesan of Dubuque Press, 1987, p. 34
10. Kruse, Len. p. 265
12. Gallagher, Mary Kevin, p. 31
13. Kruse, Len, p. 265
15. Kruse, Len, p. 267
19. Kruse, Len, p. 269
20. Gallagher, Mary Kevin. p. 70
21. Ibid., p. 91
22. Kennedy, W. A. "Statue of Bishop Loras is Dedicated," Telegraph Herald, May 29, 1939, p. 5. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=XulBAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FaoMAAAAIBAJ&pg=3925,5718820&dq=loras+college+history&hl=en
23. Gallagher, Mary Kevin. p. 88
24. Ibid., p. 89
25. Ibid. p. 90
26. Ibid. 85
27. Ibid. 96
28. Ibid. p. 113
29. Gallagher, Mary Kevin. p. 118
30. "Foreign Language the Easier Way," Telegraph Herald, January 27, 1959, p. 14
31. "Loras Library 'On the Move,'" Telegraph Herald, August 10, 1960, p. 20
32. "Loras Plans $1 Million Dorm," Telegraph Herald, May 26, 1960, p. 9
33. Anderson, Wayne R. Iowa's Geological Past: Three Billion Years of Change,Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1998, p. 5. Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=D2kzQ5RC4JMC&pg=PA5&lpg=PA5&dq=Loras+College+earthquake+%28dubuque%29&source=bl&ots=lNCa4L3MQY&sig=J-6dnel9xfH228dYLdHch6WhbCY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qLuHUre9F8KGyAGd04CQBw&ved=0CFEQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=Loras%20College%20earthquake%20%28dubuque%29&f=false
35. History of Loras College.
36. History of Loras College
37. "Loras-Clarke Merger Chronology," Telegraph Herald, May 1, 1988, p. 3. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=vo9dAAAAIBAJ&sjid=jVwNAAAAIBAJ&pg=6575,19369&dq=loras+and+clarke+merger&hl=en
38. Nepper, Mark. "Loras-Clarke Merger Timeline Set," Telegraph Herald, April 10, 1988, p. 50. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=gaFdAAAAIBAJ&sjid=51wNAAAAIBAJ&pg=3268,2057751&dq=loras+and+clarke+merger&hl=en
39. "Loras-Clarke Merger Chronology..."
42. "Loras College," Wikipedia
43. History of Loras College
44. Krapfl, Mike. "Teacher Education Evolves Three Ways After Tri-Colleges' Split," Telegraph Herald, January 18, 1998, p. 1. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19980118&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
45. History of Loras College
46. Krapfl, Mike. "Loras Lands $10 Million Windfall," Telegraph Herald, May 13, 1998, p. 1. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19980513&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
47. Becker, Stacey. "Interfaith Prayer Space Opens at Loras," Telegraph Herald, September 23, 2014, p. 3A
48. "April," Chronology 2014, Telegraph Herald, January 1, 2015, p. 8
49. "Loras College Television Earns Station of the Year Honors," KWWL Online. February 23, 2015
50. "Three Loras Students Earn First Place in National Writing Competition," KWWL Online. February 20, 2015
51. Hanson, Brad. "Loras College Awarded $30,000 Grant," August, 26, 2015 KWWL Online: http://www.kwwl.com/story/29886684/2015/08/26/loras-college-awarded-30000-grant
52. "Loras Program Aims to Aid Students with Autism," Telegraph Herald, November 5, 2015, p. 3A
53. "Clarke, Loras, NICC, UD, UW-P on Pro-Military List," Telegraph Herald, November 12, 2015, p. 3A
54. Hogstrom, Erik. "Fire Strikes Loras Dorm," Telegraph Herald, March 17, 2016, p. 1
55. Barton, Thomas J. "Donations Pour Into Loras," Telegraph Herald, March 18, 2016, p. 1
56. Ibid. p. 2A
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