Marian University Celebrates 75th Anniversary
John Armitage | Nov 27, 2012
The 75th Anniversary Gala is the high point of Marian University’s yearlong celebration. John and Sarah Lechleiter are the honorary co-chairs of the black tie event that will be held on Friday, October 19 at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. For
The 75th Anniversary Gala is the high point of Marian University’s yearlong celebration. John and Sarah Lechleiter are the honorary co-chairs of the black tie event that will be held on Friday, October 19 at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. For more information about the gala, contact Barbara Stuckwisch at 317.995.6210 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“On the feast of the Epiphany, 1851, 24-year-old Sister Theresa Hackelmeier arrived at a log cabin in Oldenburg, Indiana.” So begins the narrative of the history of the Sisters of Saint Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana. This congregation of Franciscan women would establish schools in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Kansas before taking on their most ambitious project: the creation of a teacher education college that would eventually become Marian University.
Immaculate Conception Junior College provided teachers to schools in Montana, New York, New Mexico, and Papua, New Guinea, from 1924 until its merger with St. Francis Normal in 1936. This merger created Marian College (now Marian University), a four-year college for women. Mother Clarissa Dilhoff, founder and president of Marian College from 1936 to 1948, directed the purchase of the James Allison estate in Indianapolis in 1937 as the new location for the college. Classes began on September 15, 1937.
When Mother Clarissa moved Marian College to Indianapolis, she called it “a preposterous venture.” “Moving an enterprise from the wilderness of southern Indiana to an unfamiliar city during the height of the Great Depression was one of many courageous decisions that Marian University has made in its history,” said university president Daniel J. Elsener. “Church leaders, governors, and mayors have called on Marian University time and time again to take on bold, preposterous, and risky ventures because society needs us,” he continued. Elsener pointed to the new medical school currently under construction at the university and the management of the Lake Sullivan Sports Complex as two examples.
Among the more forward-thinking moves was the college’s decision to become co-educational in 1954. At the request of Archbishop Schulte, the Sisters enrolled the first class of men in 1954—many of them veterans home from the Korean War. This move created Indiana’s first Catholic co-educational college. Marian also appointed its first male president, Monsignor Francis J. Reine.
“At Marian University, students encounter Jesus Christ and the truth in the classroom and learn how to take Christ with them into the world,” said Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. “A strong Catholic university in the heart of Indianapolis can only make our community a better place to live. May God continue to send His spirit upon the students and teachers of Marian University and fill them with wisdom and knowledge,” he remarked.
Dr. Michael Galligan-Stierle, president and CEO of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, noted that Catholic institutions have long played a significant role in American higher education, and by extension, in service to their communities, the nation, and the Church. “It is a pleasure to honor Marian University as it marks this significant milestone. With its effort to establish the first Catholic osteopathic medical school in the nation, Marian is demonstrating its genuine commitment to integrating Church teaching into healthcare education,” he said.
In 1968, the university appointed its first lay president, Dominic J. Guzzetta. In 1977, Marian University received accreditation for a nursing degree; the School of Nursing will celebrate its 35th anniversary in 2012. Today, nearly 1,000 people are enrolled in the nursing programs, including a substantial number across the country in the online, accelerated BSN program. In 2010, the university announced it would build a new medical school for the state of Indiana.
“During its seven decades, Marian University has grown from a small teacher training school to a university of national renown. Along the way, the institution and its leadership have taken on many challenges for the betterment of their students and state,” said Indiana governor Mitchell E. Daniels. “As their expansion into health care administration proves, Marian continues to grow, adapt and innovate. The university’s history and sterling academic record is a point of pride for all Hoosiers, and the next few years promise to be the best yet,” Daniels said.
“The most important seed of innovation is human talent, and Marian University plays an important part in germinating that seed. Students at Marian participate in novel undergraduate research and engage in the kind of scientific inquiry that is essential for driving the health and life sciences sector of Indiana’s economy. This has been true throughout the university’s history and I believe it will continue well into the future,” said John C. Lechleiter, the chairman, president, and chief operating officer of Eli Lilly and Company.
Darcy Burthay, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer of St.Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, commented that “Marian University is a credible and well established institution that has demonstrated its commitment to higher education and support to our local community.” St.Vincent partners with the university on nursing, educational scholarships, athletic initiatives, and the forthcoming College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We are honored to serve with Marian, and support the educational development of students,” she continued.
In 1992, at the direction of President Daniel A. Felicetti, Marian College began a cycling team that would go on to become one of the most dominant programs in the history of collegiate cycling. In 2011, Marian University entered into a 15-year partnership with the City of Indianapolis to manage, operate, maintain and make a significant investment in the IndyParks facility known as the Lake Sullivan Sports Complex, which also includes the Major Tayor Velodrome, the home of the Knights track cycling team. Built in 1982, the velodrome celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012. The Marian University cycling team will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2012.
“Marian University’s growing contributions to our community have a direct impact on the social, economic and intellectual vitality of Indianapolis,” said Indianapolis mayor Gregory A. Ballard. “Marian is a great faith-based institution in the heart of Indianapolis that continues to strengthen its partnerships and build new ones to increase educational opportunities, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to improving the quality of life for our residents,” Ballard continued.
Kristin Jones, president and chief executive officer of Indiana Health Industry Forum, remarked that Indiana’s health science community has been greatly enriched by Marian University’s presence and involvement. “Throughout the history of the School of Nursing and now, with the addition of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Marian has and will provide communities across the state with highly trained nurses and doctors, helping the state to address a critical need in healthcare delivery. Likewise, the university’s partnerships with health science businesses have helped to build relationships that both serve students and support Indiana’s position as a life science leader,” she said.
Current president Daniel J. Elsener took office in 2001; under his leadership Marian College became Marian University and the institution expanded its partnerships to better serve the community, including The New Teacher Project, Teach for America, I-STEM, 16-Tech, and more. Elsener has successfully attracted over $140 million in investments to the university and doubled enrollment.
“Dan Elsener is a major contributing member of our Indy Chamber board of directors and has provided leadership in the area of improving education in the Indianapolis region,” said Scott W. Miller, president of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. “Marian University has dedicated sizeable resources and continues to lead the way by developing programs like dual credit courses in math and science for high school students, and continues to put Indianapolis on the ‘education reform map.’ I represent over 3,600 Indy Chamber business members throughout the area in honoring Marian University for its many contributions to improving secondary education, and congratulate this great university on celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2012,” Miller continued. The Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce ardently supports education reform in Indianapolis and collaborates with many community organizations, including Marian University.
“Marian University has, throughout its history, had a strong impact on Franciscan higher education in this country,” said Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, the chairwoman of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities. “We are confident that, under the strong leadership of President Daniel J. Elsener, the next 75 years will confirm that leadership and give creative expression to the Franciscan mission of higher education in the 21st century,” she continued.
Richard L. Ludwick, J.D., D.Ed., the president and CEO of Independent Colleges of Indiana, noted that Marian University’s vision to transform lives, society and the world is at the heart of the university’s recent grow. “In accomplishing its vision, Marian University has also transformed itself over its 75-year history—growing from a Catholic college to a Catholic university, setting student enrollment records, becoming a national powerhouse in cycling and football, and breaking ground on the state’s first new medical school since 1903. And how it has accomplished all this is by staying true to its core value of excellent teaching and learning in the Franciscan and liberal arts traditions. The transformative power of Marian continues,” Ludwick concluded.
Marian University will celebrate its 75th anniversary in Indianapolis during 2012 with a year-long celebration beginning on January 12, 2012. This is also the final year of the Make History: Advance the Mission of Marian University comprehensive fundraising effort. Undertaken in 2007 with an initial goal of $68.2 million, the campaign total currently stands at $140 million and will conclude on October 19, 2011, at the Mary McNulty Young Scholarship Dinner.
“As a graduate of Marian University and the chairman of its Board of Trustees, it is my wish that business and community leaders across our great state know how much the university has contributed to the betterment of our community,” said William P. Eckman ’74, the executive vice president and chief financial officer for GEO Specialty Chemicals in Lafayette. “Its contributions, collaborations, and partnerships are all achieved through effective use of private investments, not public dollars. Soon we will celebrate the conclusion of a capital campaign that more than doubled its original goal; financial resources that have been used to increase educational opportunities for Marian students and to continually enhance the academic excellence of Marian University and, in turn, contribute to the quality of life in Indiana,” he continued
Sr. Barbara Pillar, OSF ’71, the congregational minister of the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg remarked that the ministry of education is one of the most influential ministries in our world, and one that has been a goal of the congregation’s throughout its history. “We are so proud of Marian University’s courage to venture throughout these last 75 years. We are very grateful to the many people who have kept Marian vital to the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, and our nation. The Marian University family is a treasure to the Sisters of St. Francis. We hold you in prayer as you continue to build on our legacy and make history!”
Timeline of Major Events
Thursday, January 12
75th Anniversary Opening Mass
Monday, March 26
Celebration of Marian Shrine and Rosary Walk
Sunday, April 1
Annual Academic Achievement Awards
Friday, May 4
President’s Appreciation Dinner
Saturday, May 5
Opening School Mass, Date TBD
Saturday, September 15
September 21-22, 2012
Thursday, October 4
Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
Friday, October 19
75th Anniversary Gala
Friday, December 7
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Saturday, December 15
75th Anniversary Closing Mass and President’s Christmas Dinner