The College of Saint Benedict was founded by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, who received an educational charter from the State of Minnesota in 1887 and offered their first college courses in 1913. The institution was one of the first colleges in the Upper Midwest established for the undergraduate education of women.
Located on 315 acres adjacent to the town of St. Joseph, the Saint Benedict's campus is an impressive combination of contemporary and carefully restored and maintained turn-of-the-century buildings. Though the earliest buildings date from the late 1800s, the campus is centered around the modern 40,000 square foot Clemens Library completed in 1986, the Lottie and Frank J. Ardolf, Jr. Science Center completed in 1992, the S.L. Haehn Campus Center completed in 1996, and the Gorecki Dining and Conference Center completed in 2007. The college is also the home of the Benedicta Arts Center, one of the Upper Midwest's most highly regarded cultural arts facilties, and the Claire Lynch Hall, the campus athletic facility. The campus opens toward the recently restored Sacred Heart Chapel, the center for spiritual worship for both the sisters of Saint Benedict's Monastery and the college's students, faculty and staff.
Since its founding in the sixth century, the Order of Saint Benedict has actively encouraged its men and women to participate in the work of the world, not just education and the intellectual life but also other occupations that support the full development of individuals in the context of community.
As such, the Benedictine influence contributes to the close community of faculty, staff and students at the college. Most students - approximately 85 percent - live on campus. The campus residential program includes the active participation of many Benedictine and lay professionals who live and interact with the students they advise.
Saint Benedict's curriculum is taught by a distinguished faculty, with a diverse educational and religious background. Many members of the faculty excel in research and scholarship, in addition to their primary commitment to teaching. The educational program is enhanced by the Robert and Marie Jackson Professorship in Education and the Barbara Gray Koch and David Koch Chair of Catholic Thought and Culture.
The College of Saint Benedict exists to explore and encourage the full potential of women. This extends to encouraging women's leadership roles in student organizations, clubs and standing college committees as well as participation in a broad range of varsity, intramural and club sports. In recent years, Saint Benedict's intercollegiate athletes have earned championships in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) volleyball, basketball and soccer as well.