Mount Mary University

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Mount Mary University
Mount Mary University logo.png
Former names
St. Mary's Institute (1872–1913)
St. Mary's College (1913–1928)
Mount Mary College (1928–2013)
TypePrivate women's university
Established1913; 110 years ago (1913)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic
PresidentIsabelle Cherney
Location, ,
United States
ColorsBlue and White
NicknameBlue Angels
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIIC2C

Mount Mary University is a private Roman Catholic women's university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The university was founded in 1913 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame[1] and was Wisconsin's first four-year, degree-granting Catholic college for women.[2] Today, the university serves women at the undergraduate level and both women and men at the graduate level.

The university enrolls nearly 1,500[3] students and offers bachelor's degrees in more than 30 academic majors, as well as eight master's and doctoral degree programs.[4] Post-baccalaureate certificate programs also are offered. Mount Mary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.[5]


Founding and name changes[edit]

Mount Mary University traces its roots to 1872, when the School Sisters of Notre Dame established St. Mary's Institute in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.[6] In 1913, the school introduced a college curriculum and was renamed St. Mary's College, chartered by the state of Wisconsin to grant degrees. It was the first four-year Catholic college for women in Wisconsin.[2]

In 1926, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee requested that St. Mary's College move to Milwaukee to make Catholic education available to a wider group of students. An 80-acre campus was purchased on the west side of Milwaukee.[6] On September 12, 1928, the cornerstone of the new campus was laid and the school was renamed Mount Mary College. The college opened its doors to students in 1929.[7]

In July 2013, the college changed its name to Mount Mary University.[8]


The following individuals have served as Mount Mary's president:

  • Mother M. Seraphia Minges, SSND (1913-1922)[7]
  • Mother M. Angela Schott, SSND (1922-1929)[7]
  • Edward Fitzpatrick (1929-1954)[9]
  • Sister Mary John Francis Schuh, SSND (1954-1969)[10]
  • Sister Mary Nora Barber, SSND (1969-1979)[11]
  • Sister Ellen Lorenz, SSND (1979-1987)[12]
  • Sister Ruth Hollenbach, SSND (1987-1995)
  • Sally Mahoney (interim president, 1995-1997)[13]
  • Patricia O'Donoghue (1997-2006)[14]
  • Linda Timm (2006-2008)[15]
  • Eileen Schwalbach (2009–2017)[16]
  • Christine Pharr (2017–2022)[17]
  • Isabelle Cherney (2022–present)


Mount Mary has a student body of nearly 1,500.[3] The faculty-to-student ratio is 1:15.[18] Mount Mary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.[5]

Mount Mary offers a liberal arts foundation with more than thirty undergraduate majors leading to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. The university also offers eight graduate programs, including: Professional Doctorate of Art Therapy, Master of Science in Art Therapy, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Counseling, Master of Science in Dietetics, Master of Arts in Education, Master of Arts in English, and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs, as well as a post-baccalaureate Dietetic Internship program, also are offered.[4]

Mount Mary also offers a dual degree program in partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin. Through this program, students can earn a dual Baccalaureate and Master of Public Health degrees in five years.[19]

Undergraduate programs[edit]

Mount Mary's core curriculum is based on the human search for meaning. The core curriculum consists of studies in philosophy/theology, communication/math, humanistics, literature/fine arts, and science. The core courses "provide breadth within the liberal arts by allowing students to construct an understanding of the perspectives that each of the disciplines offers in each person's lifelong search for meaning."[20]

In addition to the core curriculum, undergraduate students select a major in which to specialize. Mount Mary launched the first four-year fashion design and merchandising degree program in the nation in 1965.[21] The most popular majors currently at Mount Mary are dietetics, fashion design, fashion merchandise management, interior design, occupational therapy, and social work.[22]

Several Mount Mary undergraduate programs are accredited by their fields' accreditation body. The social work undergraduate degree program was the first private college in Wisconsin to have its baccalaureate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and continues to be accredited today.[23] The interior design program has been accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation since 1986.[24] Mount Mary's undergraduate dietetics program is accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.[25] The occupational therapy program has been accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association's Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education since 1943.[26]

Graduate programs[edit]

Mount Mary offers seven master's degree programs and one doctoral degree program. In 1982, Mount Mary launched its first graduate program, the Master of Science in Dietetics program.[27][28] In 1990, Mount Mary launched its Master of Science in Art Therapy[29] and Master of Arts in Education: Professional Development[27] degree programs. The Master of Science in Art Therapy program has been accredited by the American Art Therapy Association since 1995.[30]

The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program is accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association's Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.[31]

The Master of Arts in English program began in 2006.[27] Mount Mary launched its Master of Business Administration program in 2008.[32] The Professional Doctorate of Art Therapy program was launched in 2011, and was the first program of its kind in the United States.[33]


Mount Mary University is located on an 80-acre (32 ha) campus on the west side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[6]

Notre Dame Hall and Caroline Hall[edit]

The first two buildings on the Mount Mary campus, Notre Dame Hall and Caroline Hall, opened in 1929. Notre Dame Hall housed classrooms and administrative offices. Caroline Hall served as the student residence hall.[7] Both buildings have had many updates throughout the years, but continue to house classrooms, administrative offices, and student residences.

Fidelis Hall and Kostka Hall[edit]

In May 1953, ground was broken for Fidelis Hall, a residence for the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and Kostka Hall, a building housing an auditorium.[34][35] The buildings were completed in 1954, and 198 freshmen were welcomed in the fall at the academic investiture held in Kostka Hall.[36]

Bergstrom Hall[edit]

Bergstrom Hall, which houses the college's dining rooms, bookstore, and post office, opened in 1964.

Haggerty Library[edit]

The Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Library opened in 1981. It was renovated in 2011 and now houses a computer lab, group study rooms, and quiet study spaces.[37]

Gerhardinger Center[edit]

Ground was broken for the Gerhardinger Center in 2002.[38] The building was opened in 2004 and is named to honor Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger of Jesus, foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame order. The 33,000-square-foot (3,100 m2) building houses the college's electronic lecture hall, Cyber Cafe, and science and occupational therapy classrooms and labs.[39]

Bloechl Recreation Center[edit]

The Bloechl Recreation Center opened in 2006. The 24,800-square-foot (2,300 m2) building houses basketball and volleyball courts, a fitness center, training rooms, locker rooms, offices, a concession area, and a classroom for aerobics, dance, and yoga.[40]

Student life[edit]

Mount Mary University students can participate in several student clubs and organizations, campus ministry activities, honor societies, and athletics teams. In congruence with the university's mission, Mount Mary also encourages students to participate in social justice and service learning activities on and off campus, as well as study abroad experiences.

The student-run newspaper, Arches, won awards for general web excellence, sports reporting, graphics, and general reporting at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's Collegiate Better Newspaper Contest in 2012.[41]

Events and collections[edit]

The university is host to sports teams, musical performances, lectures, and other events throughout the year, including exhibits of regional artists' works in the Marian Art Gallery.


CREO is Mount Mary University's annual event that showcases arts and design student work and celebrates creativity. The event includes a student art gallery and student-designer fashion show. The annual fashion show began in 1967.[21] The show moved off campus for the first time in 2011[42] and draws an audience of nearly 1,200 each year.[43]

Historic Costume Collection[edit]

The Fashion Department began the Historic Costume Collection in 1965. The collection consists of 9,000 pieces dating 1750 to the present, and features significant 20th-century women's couture and ready-to-wear garments. The Historic Costume Collection includes pieces from actress Lynn Fontanne, Eunice Johnson, and Chanel.[44][45][46]

Marian Art Gallery[edit]

Mount Mary University's Marian Art Gallery hosts national, regional, and local art shows throughout the year. School of Arts and Design students, faculty, and alumnae also have the opportunity to display their work in the gallery. The gallery is open to the public and is located on the first floor of Caroline Hall.[47]

Starving Artists' Show[edit]

Since 1968, Mount Mary has been hosting the annual Starving Artists' Show. The show features local and national artists who work in all types of mediums, selling artwork for $100 or less. Attendance has averaged 8,000 or higher in recent years.[48][49][50]


The Mount Mary athletic teams are called the Blue Angels. The university is a member of the NCAA Division III ranks, primarily competing in the Coast to Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) since the 2020–21 academic year.[51] The Blue Angels previously competed in the short-lived now defunct American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) from 2018–19 to 2019–20; as well as an NCAA D-III Independent until after the 2017–18 school year.

Mount Mary competes in six intercollegiate varsity sports: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball and volleyball.

Notable alumnae and faculty[edit]

  • Ann Angel, author of Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing and Mount Mary faculty member[52]
  • Eliza Audley, owner of Eliza Audley fashion design company, who created a line of women's tennis clothing worn by athletes at the 2012 London Olympics[53]
  • Elizabeth Barbone, blogger and cookbook author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking[54]
  • Isabel Bernal, Puerto Rican printmaker and painter
  • Whittaker Chambers, writer, ex-Soviet spy, witness in Hiss Case (honorary doctorate of laws, 1952)
  • Jana Champion, deputy director of the Wisconsin Crime Laboratory Bureau[55]
  • Karen Davidson, great-granddaughter of Harley-Davidson co-founder William A. Davidson and the creative director of general merchandise for Harley-Davidson Motor Company.[56][57]
  • Cynthia (Dohmen) LaConte, CEO of Dohmen Company and president of Dohmen Company Foundation[58][59]
  • Marie O'Brien, president and CEO of Enterforce, a company ranked #4 in the Top 50 Fastest Growing Women-Led Companies in North America by Entrepreneur magazine[60][61]
  • Donna Ricco, fashion designer whose designs are distributed in department stores such as Nordstrom and Macy's, and who is noted for designing a dress worn by First Lady Michelle Obama on The View TV program during the U.S. presidential race.[62]


  1. ^ "Higher Education Archived 2013-07-31 at the Wayback Machine". Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Ninety Years of Excellence in Educating Women." Mount Mary Magazine. Volume XIV, No. 2.
  3. ^ a b "Fast Facts." Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Majors and Programs." Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Mount Mary University." Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "Mount Mary's History." Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d "Arches 1930." Mount Mary College digital yearbooks collection. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  8. ^ "Mount Mary celebrates 100 years with nam e change." July 3, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  9. ^ "Dr. Fitzpatrick Dies, Ex-Head of Mt. Mary". Milwaukee Sentinel. September 14, 1960. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  10. ^ "Nun Dies of Cancer, Headed Mount Mary." Milwaukee Journal. July 25, 1969. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  11. ^ "Sister Nora Barber Mt. Mary President." Milwaukee Sentinel. June 2, 1969. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  12. ^ "Mount Mary College Gets New President." Milwaukee Journal. November 18, 1978. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  13. ^ "Mount Mary's Mahoney skilled as transitional leader." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. October 26, 1995. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  14. ^ "Mount Mary College names new president." January 11, 2006. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  15. ^ "Mount Mary College President Linda Timm resigns." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. September 4, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  16. ^ "Schwalbach is Mount Mary College's new president Archived 2014-02-20 at the Wayback Machine." February 20, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  17. ^ Lawder, Melanie. "Christine Pharr named president of Mount Mary University". Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  18. ^ "Mount Mary College." National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  19. ^ "Mount Mary teams up with Medical College for dual degree program." July 19, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  20. ^ "Mount Mary University Undergraduate Bulletin, 2013-14[permanent dead link]." Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Mount Mary struts its fashion stuff." Catholic Herald. June 6, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  22. ^ "Mount Mary College Programs/Majors." National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  23. ^ "Accreditation: Mount Mary College Archived 2014-01-07 at the Wayback Machine." Council on Social Work Education. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  24. ^ "Accredited Programs." Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  25. ^ "Coordinated Programs in Dietetics Archived 2013-08-31 at the Wayback Machine." Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  26. ^ "Mount Mary College: Accreditation." National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  27. ^ a b c "Mount Mary University Graduate Bulletin, 2013-15[permanent dead link]." Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  28. ^ "Mount Mary marks 2 firsts." Milwaukee Journal. June 26, 1983. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  29. ^ "Biz Notes: Mount Mary College." May 27, 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  30. ^ "Art Therapy Educational Standards & American Art Therapy Association Approved Art Therapy Master's Programs." American Art Therapy Association. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  31. ^ "OT Master's Level Programs - Accredited." American Occupational Therapy Association. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  32. ^ "Mt. Mary to offer new MBA program." August 20, 2007. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  33. ^ "Mount Mary College to offer nation's first doctorate in art therapy." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. May 8, 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  34. ^ "Dear Alumna." Mount Mary Alumnae News. September 1953.
  35. ^ "The Auditorium and the Convent." Mount Mary Alumnae News. December 1953.
  36. ^ "The 1950s." Mount Mary Magazine. Winter 1988.
  37. ^ "Mount Mary to undertake $2 million expansion project." April 22, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  38. ^ "Building for the Future--A Science, Technology, and Campus Center." Mount Mary Magazine. Spring 2002.
  39. ^ "Science, Technology, and Campus Center Nears Completion". Mount Mary President's Newsletter. 2004.
  40. ^ "Bloechl Recreation Center Dedicated." Mount Mary Magazine. Fall 2006.
  41. ^ "Mount Mary newspaper wins national, state awards." Wauwatosa Patch. February 10, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  42. ^ "Fashion Forward: Mount Mary Students Host Runway Show Archived 2011-09-10 at the Wayback Machine." May 8, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  43. ^ "Fashion show travels to downtown venue." Mount Mary Magazine. Summer 2011.
  44. ^ "Historic Costume Collection." Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  45. ^ "Friends of Fashion: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair Archived 2015-06-10 at the Wayback Machine." Women's Club of Wisconsin. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  46. ^ "Lynn Fontanne 'look' lives on Archived 2016-04-28 at the Wayback Machine." Milwaukee Sentinel. October 10, 1983. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  47. ^ "Marian Gallery." Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  48. ^ "Still Starving." Milwaukee Sentinel. July 12, 1974. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  49. ^ "International Food and Art Walk; Starving Artists' Show." September 1, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  50. ^ "Work of longtime 'starving artist' is fair favorite." Catholic Herald. October 13, 2011.
  51. ^ "Mount Mary College." Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  52. ^ "Then and Now (continued)". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  53. ^ "Off the Racket". Milwaukee Magazine. Archived from the original on 2013-08-26. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  54. ^ "About". Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  55. ^ "Crime Laboratory Bureau Director". Wisconsin Division of Law Enforcement Services. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  56. ^ "Karen Davidson". Archived from the original on 2014-04-21. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  57. ^ "Going Whole Hog". Chicago Tribune. 31 December 1995. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  58. ^ "Cynthia A. (Dohmen) LaConte". Archived from the original on 2013-08-06. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  59. ^ "Tempo's November Program Meeting". Tempo Milwaukee's UpBeat Newsletter. Archived from november 2011.pdf the original (PDF) on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 9 September 2013. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  60. ^ "Enterforce Team". Archived from the original on 2013-10-01. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  61. ^ "Marie O'Brien Selected as WBDC's 2010 Entrepreneur for Wisconsin". Archived from the original on 2015-05-10. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  62. ^ "Dress We Can! Michelle Obama's surprise pick sparks sales landslide". NY Daily News. 22 June 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°04′19″N 88°01′51″W / 43.0720°N 88.0309°W / 43.0720; -88.0309