History of Marian University

1851 - Our Historical Roots

On the feast of the Epiphany, 1851, 24-year-old Sr. Theresa Hackelmeier arrived at a log cabin in Oldenburg, Indiana, having ignored the social conventions of her day in order to travel alone from her convent home in Vienna, Austria, when her companion turned back. In response to the request of Fr. Francis Joseph Rudolf of Vincennes, she had come to found an American religious congregation at Oldenburg that would teach the German-speaking children of southeastern Indiana.

1936 - The Beginning

Originally known as St. Francis Normal, the school became a four-year, state-approved institution which merged with Immaculate Conception Junior College to form Marian College. In November 1936, the Sisters of St. Francis purchased the former James Allison estate, “Riverdale,” as a site for Marian College

1937 - Marian College is Born

In 1937, the college moved to Indianapolis under the direction of Mother M. Clarissa Dillhoff, after securing a state charter and purchasing the Riverdale estate in 1936. Allison Mansion became the new location of Marian College. The building housed the library, administrative offices, classrooms, and sleeping quarters for the Sisters with a full time enrollment of 24 students.

Official dedication ceremonies took place on Wednesday, September 8, 1937. Bishop Joseph E. Ritter celebrated mass in the college chapel and delivered the sermon. On Wednesday, September 15, 1937 students and faculty assembled in the chapel for a mass celebrated by Father John J. Doyle; the mass marked the official opening of Marian College. In recent years, September 8 – 15 has been recognized as Founders' Week.

1948 - Expansion, Co-Education, and Accrediation

Success brought a need for expansion and, in 1948, the college began an expansion program that included the addition of Clare Hall, the Gymnasium, and Marian Hall. In 1954, as Marian Hall was completed, the school became the first co-educational Catholic college in Indiana. Two years later the North Central Association accredited Marian College.

1976 - Accrediation for Teachers and Nurses

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education formally accepted all teacher education programs of the college in 1976. The Indiana State Board of Nursing approved the associate level nursing curriculum in 1977 and the baccalaureate program in 1987. The National League of Nursing has accredited both programs - the associate in 1986 and the baccalaureate in 1992.

2000 - Marian's College's Adult Programs

With a long history of serving both non-traditional and traditional students, launching a degree program for adults was a natural extension of Marian College's educational mission. Marian's Adult Programs (MAP) offers bachelor and associate degrees in business.

2001 - Leadership for a New Millennium

On November 2, 2001, Daniel J. Elsener was inaugurated as Marian College's eighth president.

2009 - Marian College Becomes Marian University

On July 1, 2009, Marian College became Marian University. Over the past several years, the college grew and progressed through expansions of the academic curriculum; enhancing the faith dimension on campus; creating a more vibrant campus life, with the addition of a football team and marching band; and adding and renovating buildings. The new name better reflects what the institution is becoming: a great Catholic university.

2010 - Marian University Announces College of Osteopathic Medicine

On January 15, 2010, Marian University announced plans to begin a college of osteopathic medicine; the first osteopathic medical school in Indiana; and the first medical school in Indiana in 110 years.

2013 - The College of Osteopathic Medicine Enrolls Inaugural Class

In May 2017, Marian University graduated its first class of doctors

2015 - Another NAIA National Championship in the Books

On December 19, 2015, Marian University football won their second NAIA National Championship title after defeating Southern Oregon University, 31-14, in Daytona Beach, Florida.

2016 - Marian University Announces Klipsch Educators College

On November 4, 2016, Marian University announced its new school of education, the Fred S. Klipsch Educators College, at the Indiana State House. The college received a $12 million gift from Fred and Judy Klipsch to support The Educators College scholarships and exceptional faculty and staff.

2017 - Grand Opening of the Paul J. Norman Center

On December 8, 2017, Marian University celebrated the opening of the Paul J. Norman Center, home of the Byrum School of Business. The building includes a total of seven new classrooms, 14 new offices, three conferences rooms, four collaboration rooms, a large board room, and a presentation venue.

2018 - More Renovations at Marian University

In 2018, Marian University renovated and opened new state-of-the-art facilities, including the Dining Commons, weight room, arena/convocation center, and the Drew Family Health and Fitness Center.

2019 - Saint Joseph's College of Marian University - Indianapolis Welcomes its First Class

In June 2019, Marian University’s two-year college, Saint Joseph’s College of Marian University-Indianapolis (Saint Joe Indy), welcomed its first class. Students at Saint Joe Indy attend classes twice a week just two blocks west of campus at Huntington Family Hall. The flexible class schedules allow students to work, if they choose, while earning their associate degree.

Intern for the Indianapolis Colts
Communication major opens a variety of career opportunities.
Watch Lindsey's story
Studying healthcare in Chile
Pre-med student builds cultural competencies and awareness.
Watch Htoo's story
Coming home to Indy
Award-winning transfer student is glad she made the switch.
Read Rachel's story