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It is the mission of Saint Michael’s College to contribute through higher education to the enhancement of the human person and to the advancement of human culture in light of the Catholic faith.
Saint Michael’s Institute was founded in 1904 at Winooski Park, Vermont, by members of the Society of Saint Edmund. These priests and brothers, known as Edmundites, took Saint Edmund of Canterbury, the 13thcentury Archbishop of Canterbury, as their patron saint. Saint Edmund led a rich and varied life, teaching at universities in Oxford and Paris, and playing an instrumental role in the construction of Salisbury Cathedral. His final resting place in Pontigny, France, is where the Society of Saint Edmund first began its ministry in 1843. The Edmundites came to Vermont via Canada in the late 19th century, after French social and political developments dispossessed many Catholic institutions. They bought the land where today’s College stands from a local farmer, Michael Kelly, turning the original farmhouse into what is now Founders Hall.
As the school developed into an American-style college, the farmland became a campus. Founders Hall (1904), the only building in the early years, was later supplemented by Jeanmarie Hall (1921). Saint Michael’s grew gradually in its first forty years, reaching an enrollment of about 250 students by the end of World War II. After the war, with the return of military veterans, the College’s enrollment expanded dramatically to some 1,145 students. Barracks acquired from nearby Fort Ethan Allen served as classroom buildings, the library, and student residences. The Saint Michael’s Playhouse, started in 1947, continues to bring professional summer theater to the community, as well as a range of educational opportunities, including backstage internships for Saint Michael’s undergraduate students.
The College first followed a curriculum deeply rooted in the classical European liberal arts tradition, including mandatory Greek and Latin. In 1951, the dean and future president, Reverend Gerald E. Dupont, SSE, initiated the Saint Michael’s Plan, which focused on the intellectual growth of students through studies informed by Catholicism while meaningfully engaged in the secular world. Saint Michael’s became fully co-educational in 1971.
Since the 1950s, Saint Michael’s facilities have grown to include a number of fine brick buildings of a consistent style. The integrated intellectual and religious character of the College is symbolized by the central green, anchored by the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel (1965) at the east end, and Durick Library (1968) at the west end. Other major buildings include Cheray Science Hall (1949), Vincent C. Ross Sports Center (1973), Tarrant Recreation Center (1994), McCarthy Arts Center (1975), Alliot Hall (1960), Dion Family Student Center (2013), and Aubin residence hall (2013), as well as the original quad residence halls – Ryan, Alumni, Joyce, and Lyons – and four sets of townhouses. Three modern, suite-style residence halls – Cashman, Pontigny, and Canterbury – opened in the early 2000s. Alongside those three halls is a new apartment-style residence that opened in the fall 2016 semester. It reflects the College’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint by incorporating energy-saving “green” technology into its design. In 2019, a successful fundraising effort, led by the Society of Saint Edmund’s generous matching gift, raised $1 million to name this newest residence hall after Father Michael P. Cronogue, SSE, who died in October 2016.
Saint Edmund’s Hall (1987) provides superb classrooms and faculty offices. The Hoehl Welcome Center (2003) provides a first stop and greeting place for prospective students and their families. In 2006, the Fire and Rescue squads moved with Public Safety into the Robert E. Sutton ‘66 Fire and Rescue Station. The Antonio and Rita Pomerleau Alumni Center (2009), which incorporates sustainable technology, houses the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations and provides meeting and function rooms for Saint Michael’s graduates.
Vision: Three Objectives
- To actively engage students with ideas developed over millennia in many world civilizations as well as those ideas from more recently emerging disciplines and assist students in the generative process of creating new understandings. For this engagement to be most productive requires that a student work closely with a faculty member who is deeply, actively, and demonstrably engaged in learning, for in a liberal arts college it is not so much acquired knowledge or personal belief that is passed on from one generation to the next, but rather curiosity and passion for the very ideas of the discipline.
- To encourage the development of an empathetic understanding and respect for the differing views of others derived from their history, status or unique philosophical or religious belief. Such an understanding is to be developed through proximate experience grounded in religious, philosophical and historical contexts.
- To take responsibility for the moral and spiritual development of each individual by employing the long Catholic intellectual tradition that sees no conflict between belief and reason. This is rooted in the belief that the world is “good” and that the dignity of each person needs to be acknowledged.