Holy Cross Science Biography & Facts
The College of the Holy Cross is a private, Jesuit liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1843, Holy Cross is the oldest Catholic college in New England and one of the oldest in the United States.
Opened as a school for boys under the auspices of the Society of Jesus, it was the first Jesuit college in New England. Holy Cross sports teams are called the Crusaders and their sole color is purple; they compete in NCAA Division I as members of the Patriot League.
Holy Cross was founded by The Rt Rev. Benedict Joseph Fenwick, S.J., second Bishop of Boston, after his efforts to find a Catholic college in Boston were thwarted by the city's Protestant civic leaders. From the beginning of his tenure as bishop, Fenwick intended to establish a Catholic college within the boundaries of his diocese.
Relations with Boston's civic leaders worsened such that, when a Jesuit faculty was finally secured in 1843, Fenwick decided to leave the Boston school and instead opened the College of the Holy Cross 45 miles (72 km) west of the city in central Massachusetts, where he felt the Jesuits could operate with greater autonomy. The site of the college, Mount Saint James, was originally occupied by a Roman Catholic boarding school run by the Rev. James Fitton, with his lay collaborator Joseph Brigden, since 1832. On February 2, 1843, Fr. Fitton sold the land to Bishop Fenwick and the Diocese of Boston to be used to found the Roman Catholic college that the bishop had wanted in Boston. Fenwick gave the college the name of his cathedral church, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The Bishop's letters record his enthusiasm for the project as well as for its location:
Next May I shall lay the foundation of a splendid College in Worcester ... It is calculated to contain 100 boys and I shall take them for $125 per an. & supply them with everything but clothes. Will not this be a bold undertaking? Nevertheless I will try it. It will stand on a beautiful eminence & will command the view of the whole town of Worcester.
The school opened in October 1843 with the Rev. Thomas F. Mulledy, S.J., former president of Georgetown University, as its first president, and on the second day of November, with six students aged 9 to 19, the first classes were held. Within three years, the enrollment had increased to 100 students. Initially the education was more at the elementary and high school level; later it became a higher level institution.
Since its founding, Holy Cross has produced the fifth most members of the Catholic clergy out of all American Catholic colleges. The first class graduated in 1849, led by the valedictorian James Augustine Healy, the mixed-race son of an Irish planter in Georgia and his common-law wife, a mulatto former slave. Healy is now recognized as the first African-American bishop in the United States, but at the time he identified as white Irish Catholic and was largely accepted as such, without denying his African ancestry. His father sent all his sons north for their education at Holy Cross College; two other sons became priests, and three daughters also made careers in the Catholic Church. Healy graduated with his close friend Colby Kane, who would also go on to join the clergy, and was influential in many of Healy's early writings on Eucharistic transubstantiation.
Fenwick Hall, the school's main building, was completely destroyed by fire in 1852. Funds were raised to rebuild the college, and in 1853 it opened for the second time.Petitions to secure a charter for the college from the state legislature were denied in 1847 for a variety of reasons, including anti-Catholicism on the part of some legislators. The increased rate of immigration from Ireland during the famine years roused resistance from some residents of Massachusetts. Initially, Holy Cross diplomas were signed by the president of Georgetown University. After repeated denials, a charter was finally granted on March 24, 1865, by Governor John Albion Andrew.
World War II
During World War II, College of the Holy Cross was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.
Late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries
In 1998, Holy Cross initiated an eight-year capital campaign, "Lift High the Cross", with a three-year quiet period. The campaign for Holy Cross ended in fiscal 2006 with $216.3 million raised, surpassing its original goal of $175 million. The funds allowed Holy Cross to establish an additional 12 new faculty positions, along with more than 75 newly endowed scholarships for students. The campaign provided support for the renovation of the Mary Chapel as well as construction of new facilities on campus, including Smith Hall which houses the new Michael C. McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture; a five-story apartment-style residence housing 244 seniors; and a new 1,350-seat soccer stadium. During the campaign, the college's endowment grew to more than $544 million.On July 1, 2000, Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., became the president of the college. In 2011, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., the Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Georgetown University, was named McFarland's successor.In early 2018, the college began publicly exploring the possibility of changing its "Crusader" mascot and associated imagery. The college's leadership ultimately decided to keep the mascot, distinguishing its use of the nickname from the historical associations with the crusades. In line with this, the college's leadership decided to retire the previously used imagery of an armed medieval knight associated with the nickname.In September 2020, Boroughs announced his planned resignation effective June 30, 2021. He was succeeded by Vincent D. Rougeau, Dean of the Boston College Law School. Rougeau is the first lay and first Black president in the history of the college.
Holy Cross' campus, a registered arboretum, has won national awards for its landscaping. In 1977 Holy Cross was cited by the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) for having the best-maintained school or university grounds in the United States. Holy Cross is marked by an irregular layout as its 175-acre (0.71 km2) campus is situated on the northern slope of a very steep hill named Mount Saint James, which offers it a panoramic view of the city of Worcester. The Princeton Review ranked the campus as #5 most beautiful campus in the nation in 2010 and consistently ranks the campus in the top 15. The design and landscape is ingrained into many themes and nicknames for the school which is commonly known as The Hill.
The 37 college buildings include residential housing and academic buildings in the middle sections of the campus and athletic and practice facilities on the outskirts on its northern and southern ends. Holy Cross also owns six non-campus properties.
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