Dayton, University of

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Originally known as St. Mary's School for Boys (1850), also as St. Mary's Institute (1850), St. Mary's College (1912), and under its present name (1920), the University of Dayton was one of the first and now is the largest institution of the Society of Mary (marianists) in the United States. Founded as a school for boys by the Alsatian Marianist, Rev. Leo Meyer, it had its beginning on a 125-acre farm that he purchased shortly after his arrival. As enrollment increased, the curriculum was gradually extended until in 1882 the state of Ohio empowered the institution to confer collegiate degrees. A preparatory division was maintained along with the college program until 1936; since then all facilities have been used exclusively for higher educational purposes.

The direction of the University (2000) is set by a two-tiered board, the Corporation (7 members, the majority of whom are Marianists) and a board of trustees (34 members, nine of whom are Marianists). The president of the University is a member of both bodies. Full-time faculty number 400, 94 percent of whom are lay people, 89 percent holding doctorates. For administrative purposes, the University is operated through a series of councils; academic policies are set by the Academic Senate. Its four professional schools (Business, Education, Engineering, and Law) are accredited, as well as are several programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, which enrolls one half of the 6,500 full time undergraduate students. These major academic divisions comprise 33 departments and offer 37 different degrees on the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. Besides the regular day session, the University also conducts evening and summer sessions and offers short-term credit courses, conferences, and institutes through the Continuing Education and Summer Programming division.

In 2000 its library housed 1,353,366 volumes, subscribed to 5,985 periodicals, and its Marian Library houses the largest collection of Marian publications in the world and provides academic sources for the International Marian Research Institution. This institution, affiliated with the Marianum in Rome, offers STLs and STDs in mariology.

The university pioneered in Catholic coeducation with the introduction of women students in 1935, who now constitute one half the undergraduate population. In keeping with its special spirit, the University grants the yearly Marianist Award (since 1949) for outstanding scholarship for the Mother of God, and since 1986 for an outstanding contribution to the intellectual life by a Catholic.

From a total of only 171 students in 1920, the total enrollment has risen with increasing momentum since World War II to 10,318 in 2000. First in size among private institutions of higher learning in the state of Ohio, the University is 11th among the nation's Catholic colleges, and seventh in the size of its endowment. To provide the necessary facilities to accommodate the postwar student influx, the addition of 76 acres in 1960 doubled the campus; 95% of its undergraduate population, drawn from 44 states and over 30 countries, are residential.

Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2000, the University's undergraduate program features an integrated general education program, an extensive and innovative set of courses that links liberal education and professional learning, and a philosophy of education that focuses on learning for leadership and service. Its seven doctoral programs, including most recently one in theology, positions the University of Dayton as a leader in Catholic higher education.

[j. heft]