Higher Ed on the Hilltop

     In Spring 2019, the twenty-six students in HIST 2303: Introduction to Historical Methods took on the challenge of creating this site as the course’s culminating assignment. Working in groups, they gathered historical evidence from the St. Edward’s University archives, and analyzed and contextualized it within the broad developments in higher education in the United States. The items, collections, and exhibits presented on this site are the results of their efforts.

    The history of St. Edward’s University is filled with consistency and change – a consistent dedication to providing a high-quality education that produces morally conscious graduates, and a constant evolution of curricula, programs, extracurriculars, campus structure, faculty, staff, and leadership formulated to generate that education. In some ways, St. Edward’s has not changed much. Main Building, built in 1889, still stands overlooking downtown Austin. The charge of the founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Blessed Basile Moreau, to “always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart,” still echoes in the university’s mission to help students “to understand themselves, clarify their personal values and recognize their responsibility to the world community.”1

     In other ways, St. Edward’s University has changed dramatically. From 232 students in 1891, by 2018, enrollment had surged to over four thousand.2 Where once members of Catholic religious orders made up the majority of the faculty and often did double duty as administrators, in 1969 the university came under the leadership of a lay board of trustees. Like many Catholic institutions at the turn of the twentieth century, St. Edward’s served as both a preparatory school and a college. It was not until 1925 that St. Edward’s officially became a university, although a high school remained on campus until 1967.3 The 1960s brought another significant transformation as well. Women formally joined the student body in 1966 with the creation of Maryhill College, an on-campus, coordinate college that merged with the previously all-male school just four years later. 

     In the century and a half of its existence, St. Edward’s has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to America’s evolving social and economic climate. The exhibits on this site detail the significance of these transformations. When the Going Got Tough: St. Edward's University During the Great Depression and St. Edward's Military Academy uncover students’ and administrators’ approaches to overcoming the challenges of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Vatican II Council: Catholic Higher Education in Transition and Maryhill College: Women in Higher Education reveal how the university adapted to the profound alterations generated in the mid-twentieth century by the Second Vatican Council and reforms in Catholic education. Finally, Student Activism in Higher Education, "I Do My Thing and You Do Your Thing": Student Culture in the 1960s-1980s, and MAPP/ESTIMA bring to light the ways in which students shaped their college experience and grew in the campus climate they helped to create. 

     We would like to thank Sara Hills, Susan Eason, and Pongracz Sennyey at the Munday Library for all of their effort and assistance helping to create our Omeka site, explain Dublin Core naming conventions, and provide access to the St. Edward’s University Archives throughout the semester despite being shorthanded. We would also like to thank Dr. Christie Wilson for her work in taking hundreds of digital images of archival material. Finally, we would like to thank Sr. Donna M. Jurick, Bro. Richard P. Daly, and Dr. George Martin for their graciousness in sharing their experiences of St. Edward’s and higher education with us. 

Dr. Daniel P. Glenn
Assoc. Prof. of History
Spring ‘19

     1. Charism, Congregation of the Holy Cross Ave Crux Spes Unica, accessed April 17, 2019, https://holycrosscongregation.org/spirituality/charism/; History and Mission, St. Edward’s University, accessed April 17, 2019, https://www.stedwards.edu/about-st-edwards-university/history-mission.

     2. William Dunn, CSC, St. Edward’s University: A Centennial History (Austin: St. Edward’s University Press, 1986), 64; Facts and Awards, St. Edward’s University, accessed April 17, 2019, https://www.stedwards.edu/about-st-edwards-university/facts-awards.

     3. Dunn, 320.