History & Tradition

Cardinal Stritch University has a rich history and tradition dating back to its founding in 1937.


Milestones in the University’s history include:

1937: The College is chartered by the state of Wisconsin as St. Clare College, a teaching institution for its founders, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. The College is located on Milwaukee’s south side.

1943: The Sisters opened a reading clinic to assist children in overcoming reading difficulties. This program, known today as The Literacy Centers, is among the oldest in the country and remains a cornerstone of Stritch’s legacy.

1946: St. Clare College is renamed Cardinal Stritch College in honor of the former Archbishop of Milwaukee, Samuel Cardinal Stritch, who first encouraged the Sisters to start a college. All academic programs are opened to lay women.

1953: The North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools grants accreditation for the first time. This accreditation continues to the present day.

1956: A graduate division is established, offering majors in special education and reading. Courses in this division are open to men.

1962: The campus on the city's south side is closed and opens at the present location in Fox Point/Glendale with five buildings: Bonaventure Hall – administration; Duns Scotus Hall – academics; Roger Bacon Hall – science; Serra Hall – dining room and kitchen; and Clare Hall – residence.

1970: The College becomes entirely coeducational.

1980: An innovative nursing program is introduced, offering both associate and bachelor’s degrees.

1982: Programs in Management for Adults, the forerunner to the College of Business and Management, are implemented to meet the needs of working adults seeking degrees. Their success led to expansion into Minnesota in 1987.

1983: The Professional Inservice Bureau is created and offers an off-campus delivery system for working educators who want to pursue graduate studies.

1985: The O.W. Carpenter Campus Center and the A.S. Kliebhan Hall (Great Hall) are completed and dedicated. The Library, Fieldhouse, Student Union, Bookstore and Schroeder Auditorium are included in this expansion.

1988: The Master Plan for Stritch is unveiled; its priority was to promote the Franciscan charism. A task force identified and described the four Franciscan values upon which Stritch still operates.

1997: University status is approved by the Board of Trustees, and Cardinal Stritch College becomes Cardinal Stritch University. The Joan Steele Stein Center for Communication Studies/Fine Arts is opened, and Nursing introduces its first master’s degree program.

1998: The Doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service is established.

2000: The Franciscan Pilgrimage program begins for faculty, staff, and administration. Initially, two people from each group are sent for a ten day leadership pilgrimage in Assisi and Rome.

2002: Stritch establishes The Leadership Center, which prepares and sustains leaders that are catalysts for transformation of their organizations and communities.

2006: A $14 million expansion of the University’s main administration building, Bonaventure Hall, was completed. Stritch also began offering its first entirely online degree programs.

2007: Stritch establishes The Saint Clare Center for Catholic Life, which provides education and formation for lay Catholics who seek to grow in faith and service. It is the only center of its kind in the country.

2008: Heritage Park, honoring the Sisters who have served at Stritch, is dedicated.

2009: City Center, home to most of the College of Education and Leadership, opens at the former Pabst Brewery in downtown Milwaukee. The former education building on campus is remodeled to create Assisi Hall, a residence for 100 students.

2010: Plans are announced for the construction of St. Francis of Assisi Chapel on the second floor of Bonaventure Hall. The Chapel is dedicated on October 4, 2011.

2011: Dr. James Loftus becomes the University’s eighth president.

2012: Stritch celebrates its 75th anniversary.