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University History

Bishop Richard Gilmour

Bishop Richard Gilmour, Bishop of Cleveland from 1872-1891, was the most instrumental voice in working to establish a Catholic university in Cleveland. 

Bishop Gilmour appointed Father Henry Behrens, the Superior of the Buffalo Mission of the Jesuits and rector of Canisius College, to establish a Catholic college in Cleveland. Father Behrens sent Father John B. Neustich to Cleveland under the guise of a visitor to St. Mary’s Parish, when in fact he was to secretly purchase property that would house Cleveland’s first Catholic college.

Bishop Gilmour was adamant that absolutely no publicity be done until the school was ready to be opened. The Jesuits complied with his wishes, and included a location on Cleveland’s West Side though they thought the East Side would have more potential. They would not, however, concede on the issue of opening the college as a boarding school. At the time, the school was in an area where businesses, including a large brewery, livery stables, and numerous saloons were situated. They felt this was an inappropriate atmosphere for a boarding school.

St. Ignatius College

In August of 1886, Father Behrens arrived in Cleveland to present Fathers Herman Kerckhoff, Joseph Gaechter, and John Devlin to Bishop Gilmour. These three Jesuits along with Father Neustich were the first faculty of St. Ignatius College, named for Ignatius Loyola who founded the Society of Jesus.

St. Ignatius College opened its doors on September 6, 1886.

One notable name in the first class was Thomas Grasselli, son of Ceasar A. Grasselli, one of Cleveland’s industrial leaders for years. Grasselli Clock Tower and Grasselli Library are both named for this family who generously contributed to the institution.

The first class consisted of 76 students, a rather large number considering the secrecy behind the development of the school. The first advertisement for the college was listed in the Catholic Bulletin on August 19, 1886. The tuition for classes in the years 1886-1903 was $40.00 per year. Classes offered included: Grammar, Latin, English, Geography, Arithmetic, Penmanship, Christian Doctrine, Bible History, and German. At the end of the first school year, on June 27, 1887, there was a convocation ceremony with a program, music, and prizes being distributed for good work in the classroom.

Father Neustich soon realized that the wooden structure which served as the first building of the college was truly inadequate for a real college. By 1888, he had worked long and hard to see to the construction and opening of the first wing of the new building for the college, which is presently St. Ignatius High School. With the completion of this structure, Father Neustich’s work was done.

The college continued its growth, first under the direction of Father Henry Knappmeyer, and then with many other Jesuits to follow the lead of these first two influential and successful Jesuit presidents. In 1890, St. Ignatius College was incorporated under the laws of Ohio and granted the power to confer certificates and degrees.

As years passed, new clubs and activities began. The Glee Club, the Orchestra, sports, and Sodalities were eventually formed. The majority of students who completed their studies during the early years of the University joined the diocesan priesthood.

In 1925, the first copy of The Carroll News was published. This publication still continues today. In the early 1920s, another great American pastime reached John Carroll with the University joining the collegiate football leagues. Prior to this time, football had only been an intramural or local sport. Under Father Bracken, football was soon to become a big center of interest for the college.

New name, new location

The 1920s also brought some other significant long-term changes to the University. Negotiations began for an east side site for the University. To go along with this change, on May 15, 1923, St. Ignatius College was renamed Cleveland University for a time. By September of the same year, the name was changed yet again for reasons that have never been completely clear. John Carroll University, named after Bishop John Carroll, the first American Bishop, became the official name.

In order to plan for the new location, a building campaign was started under Father Thomas J. Smith. The campaign was continued under Father Benedict Rodman, and 45 acres of property in Idlewood Village (now University Heights) were purchased. Thanks to the business sense of John J. Bernet, general chairman of the building committee and Herman R. Neff, chairman of the preliminary campaign, $1,400,000 in pledges was secured by 1929. Though many Catholics were sought out to donate for this campaign, it should be noted that many wealthy non-Catholics contributed as well as several corporations. The final amount of pledges in 1930 totaled $2,541,382. Since financial success was evident, the building of the new campus began by laying the cornerstone on July 5, 1931. Remarks for this event were made by U.S. Senator Robert J. Bulkley and Right Reverend Joseph Schrembs, Bishop of Cleveland.

The exteriors of five buildings were completed: administration, physics and biology, chemistry, faculty and students’ residences. Sadly, at this time, the Depression made its way into Cleveland and caused many investors to put their contributions on hold. In 1932, construction on the campus was suspended.

The Administration building, though not closed off completely, was already housing some rather costly seismology and weather equipment. Father Frederich Odenbach made the choice to move into the tower of the building to watch over the equipment until it could be safely protected when construction some day would continue.

Construction finally resumed in May of 1935. The administration, chemistry, and physics and biology buildings were prepared for classes to begin in the fall. October 7, 1935, saw the 456 students coming to classes on the University Heights campus. The beautiful Grasselli Clock Tower graced the sky, and excitement was evident. By December, the students’ residence hall was ready for occupancy. A new era had begun.

Up until this point, the college only admitted men, but the Evening College and Graduate Division in the 1930s admitted women. (In the 1920s female nuns attended Sunday classes.) John Carroll had already given 82 undergraduates degrees to women who attended the summer, evening, and Saturday sessions. The first female graduates of 1927 were three nuns, and the first laywomen graduated in 1936.

In 1943, with the war in full swing, the campus was shut down to students, but opened its doors to the Navy, when its V-12 program was established. This program ran until 1945.

In 1945, upon reopening the school after the war, the School of Business, Economics, and Government was established. In 1949, the Evening College was established. At this time a lay advisory board of community leaders was also formed.

Construction and coeducation

The look of campus appeared to change constantly for many years. In 1947, a temporary gymnasium was erected on the original chapel foundation. This building also served as the School of Business, and was called the “Pink Barn” due to its brick color which did not quite match the brick on the rest of campus.

The Military Science Building (1950), Pacelli Hall (1952), Dolan Hall (1955), the new gymnasium (1957), and the Student Activities Building (1959) were all results of a successful decade.

In the late 1950s, under President Hugh Dunn, S.J., a Blueprint Committee was established to project the future needs for John Carroll. This led to the Decade of Progress Development Program which was launched with $19.5 million to expand academic, recreational, and residential facilities. In 1961, Grasselli Library opened its doors. Murphy Hall opened its residence in 1964, with Bohannon Science Building to follow in 1967, thanks to the first million-dollar gift in the university’s history by Cleveland industrialist James Bohannon. At that same time, the Evening College was discontinued and renamed University College. From the late 1950s, support for coeducation seemed to increase, though the debate still continued.

Finally, in 1968 the College of Arts and Sciences officially became coeducational. Women were also permitted to become on-campus residents that same year. Murphy Hall became their first residence on campus. Rather quickly, a women’s Glee Club was established and a female became editor of The Carroll News. A dean of women was hired as well as a female athletic director to get intercollegiate sports teams for women going.

1969 saw the completion of a Student Activities Annex which included a student bar known as the “Airport Lounge,” Little Theater, Development and Alumni offices, and Military Science. University governance was reorganized under a new board of trustees, with three-fourths lay people and one-fourth Jesuit membership. The John Carroll University Jesuit Community was separately incorporated.

In 1971, the Fritzsche Religious Center opened.

The first group of women graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1972.

The William H. Johnson Natatorium was built to house the campus swimming pool in 1975. Carrollodge was completed in 1976. In 1978, a new dormitory was built and named North Hall. In 1982, Cleveland businessman Walter Sutowski’s gift of one million dollars brought the American Values Campaign over its goal of $8.4 million. With that gift, North Hall was rededicated as Sutowski Hall. Several rather important Commencement speakers also graced John Carroll’s campus during this decade, including George Herbert Walker Bush, Bob Hope, and Don Shula.

In 1984, a $2.1 million grant from the Mellen Foundation of Cleveland endowed a chair in finance in the School of Business. The completion of the Recreation Center Complex in 1985 was a highlight for many students during this decade. This complex includes Schott Atrium, Student Activities Offices, an indoor track, an intramural center, and the Student Union Offices.

The start of the second century

1986 marked an amazing accomplishment as the University celebrated its Centennial. Centennial Festival Week was its highlight. In 1987, St. Francis Chapel was completed soon to be followed by East Hall (later named Hamlin Hall), the Bruening Hall addition, the Nathan Dauby Plaza, and the renovation of the School of Business. Schott Hall was also completed allowing additional dining facilities to seat several hundred people.

In 1990, New Hall (dedicated on November 13, 1993, as Campion Hall after Edmund Campion, a Jesuit Martyr) was built next to East Hall near the football field. Completion of Schweickert Field (baseball field, spectator stands, press box and storage) and Ralph Vince Fitness Center in 1991 brought new interest to campus. In 1994, the T.P. O’Malley, S.J., Center for Communications and Language Arts was opened and dedicated. This addition onto the Administration Building gave students a nice new space for studying and taking classes. The John G. and Mary Jane Breen Learning Center, an addition to Grasselli Library that doubled its size, was dedicated in 1995. In 1996, the John M. and Mary Jo Boler School of Business was dedicated and the Jesuit residence, Schell House, was completed in 1997.

The jewel in the crown of the 21st century is the very impressive state-of-the-art Dolan Science Center. Charles and Helen Dolan pledged $20 million toward the center in 2000, ground was broken in 2001, and the center was opened and dedicated in 2003. This structure was the reward of a very successful campaign entitled “Choosing the Greater Good” followed by the “Kresge Challenge.” 2003 also marked the completion and dedication of Don Shula Stadium at Wasmer Field.

The campus has continued to grow in past years with the additions of seven apartment buildings around Fairmount Circle, the temple property on Green Road (now called the Green Road Annex), and the purchase of the Fairmount Circle shopping center.

Growth for the future

The campus has also hosted many prestigious events including the International Children’s Games and the Heartland Delta V Conference. We have also continued to upgrade our campus facilities with renovations to Bernet Hall, Schott Student Dining Hall, Rodman Hall, the Administration Building, the LSC Conference Room, Murphy Room, Jardine Room, and the Corbo Athletic room.

In 2009 we chose to honor a true “man for others” by naming our Department of Communication and Theatre Arts after Tim Russert ’72. The NBC/John Carroll University Meet the Press Fellowship was also launched, which awards a prestigious nine-month fellowship to a graduating senior motivated to pursue a career in political journalism.

We also began to plan for the future of our academic programs in 2009 and 2010. The Academic Planning Task Force was started and 11 proposals for new academic programs funded by seed money from an anonymous donor were presented. Phase 1 of the task force’s plans was completed in January 2010 and Phase 2 was initiated in Fall 2010.

The campus also became a little greener in 2010 with the removal of the temporary parking lot and the restoration of the Hamlin Quad, along with the creation of a Sustainability Committee.

A new era begins

In 2017, the University announced the appointment of Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D. as the 25th president of John Carroll. Dr. Johnson is a transformative academic leader, with stops at Babson College,  Cornell University, and the University of Michigan. 

Timeline

1800s

1876

First invitation of Bishop Richard Gilmour, Bishop of Cleveland, to the Buffalo Mission Jesuits to establish a college in Cleveland.

1880 – 1886

Extended negotiations between Bishop Gilmour and the Buffalo Jesuits.

April 19, 1886

A formal agreement is reached between Bishop Gilmour and Father Henry Behrens, S.J., Superior of the Buffalo Mission, to establish a college in Cleveland.

May 1, 1886

Father John B. Neustich, S.J., is appointed Vice-Rector and President of St. Ignatius College.

July 19, 1886

Father Neustich, with the aid of some Jesuit Brothers, begins construction of the two-story frame building that served as the original classroom building of the College and later as the gymnasium.

August 1886

Father Henry Behrens presents the first members of the future St. Ignatius College faculty, Fathers Herman Kerckhoff, Joseph Gaechter, and John Devlin to Bishop Gilmour.

August 19, 1886

The first publicity for the new college appears in the form of an advertisement in the Catholic Bulletin.

September 6, 1886

St. Ignatius College opens. 76 students are in the first class.

June 27, 1887

At the end of the first school year a convocation ceremony is held. It features a program, music, and prizes being distributed for good work in the classroom.

1889

Northwest wing of the permanent five-story brick building on the corner of West 30th and Carroll Avenue is completed.

1890

St. Ignatius College is incorporated under the laws of Ohio and granted the power to confer certificates and degrees.

1891

Southwestern wing of the permanent building is completed.

1900s

1903

The St. Ignatius College Alumni Association (the forerunner of the JCU National Alumni Association) is formed.

1914

New gymnasium is built on Carroll Avenue; the original temporary classroom building is torn down.

Early 1920s

Football comes to John Carroll when the school joins the collegiate football leagues.

1921

Joseph Schrembs becomes Bishop of Cleveland and gives permission for the Jesuits to build a college and parish on the east side.

1922

St. Ignatius College receives its first accreditation by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

March 19, 1923

60 acres in Idlewood Village (now University Heights) are purchased for the present campus.

May 15, 1923

St. Ignatius College is renamed Cleveland University for a time.

September 10, 1923

The University is renamed John Carroll University after Bishop John Carroll, the first American Bishop.

1925

The first copy of The Carroll News is published.

1929

$1,400,000 in pledges is secured to build a new campus for John Carroll on 45 acres in University Heights.

1930

Pledges total $2,541,382.

July 5, 1931

The building of the new campus begins with the laying of the cornerstone. Remarks for this event were made by U.S. Senator Robert J. Bulkley and Right Reverand Joseph Schrembs, Bishop of Cleveland.

February 1932

The Depression hits Cleveland, causing many investors to put their contributions on hold. Construction on campus is suspended.

May 1935

Construction is able to resume.

October 7, 1935

456 students begin coming to classes on the new campus.

December 1935

The student’s residence hall is ready for occupancy.

1943

Due to the war, the campus is shut down to students. The Navy uses the campus to conduct its V-12 program. The program runs until 1945.

1945

The school is reopened after the war and the School of Business, Economics, and Government is established.

1947

A temporary gymnasium is erected on the original chapel foundation. It is nicknamed the “Pink Barn” due to its brick color which did not quite match the brick on the rest of campus. It serves as the School of Business.

1949

The Evening College is established. At this time also, a Lay Advisory Board of community leaders is formed.

1950

The Military Science Building is constructed.

1952

Pacelli Hall is constructed.

1955

Dolan Hall is built.

1956

The Graduate Division becomes the Graduate School.

1957

The new gymnasium is built.

1959

The Student Activities Building is built.

1961

Grasselli Library opens.

1963

The University launches $19.5 million Decade of Progress Development Program to expand academic, recreational, and residential facilities.

1964

Murphy Hall welcomes its first residents.

1966

Cleveland industrialist James A. Bohannon donates the first million-dollar gift in the university’s history, leading to construction of the Bohannon Science Center.

1967

The Bohannon Science Center opens. The Evening College is also discontinued and renamed University College.

1968

The College of Arts and Sciences becomes coeducational. Women are also permitted to become on-campus residents, living in Murphy Hall.

1969

The Student Activities Annex is completed. University governance is also reorganized under a new board of trustees, with three-fourths lay people and one-fourth Jesuit membership. The John Carroll University Jesuit Community is separately incorporated.

1971

The Fritzsche Religious Center opens.

1972

The first group of women graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences.

1975

The William H. Johnson Natatorium is built to house the campus swimming pool.

1976

Carrollodge is completed.

1979

A new dormitory is built and named North Hall. In 1982, Cleveland businessman Walter Sutowski’s gift of one million dollars brought the American Values Campaign over its goal of $8.4 million. With that gift, North Hall was rededicated as Sutowski Hall.

1981

South Hall is built. It would eventually be renamed Millor Hall.

1984

A $2.1 million grant from the Mellen Foundation of Cleveland endows a chair in finance in the School of Business.

1985

The Recreation Center Complex is completed. This complex includes Schott Atrium, Student Activities Offices, an indoor track, an intramural center, and the Student Union Offices.

1986

The University celebrates its Centennial. The highlight of the celebration is Centennial Festival Week.

1987

St. Francis Chapel is completed.

1988

East Hall is completed, which would later be dedicated as Hamlin Hall in 1997.

1989

The Bruening Hall addition, the Nathan Dauby Plaza, and the renovation of the School of Business are completed. Schott Hall is completed allowing additional dining facilities to seat several hundred people.

1990

New Hall is built next to East Hall. It is dedicated on November 13, 1993, as Campion Hall, named for Edmund Campion, a Jesuit Martyr.

1991

Completion of Schweickert Field (baseball field, spectator stands, press box and storage) and Ralph Vince Fitness Center.

1993

The University receives the largest philanthropic gift in its history, $10 million for endowment from the F. J. O’Neill Charitable Corporation.

1994

The T.P. O’Malley, S.J., Center for Communications and Language Arts is opened and dedicated. This addition onto the Administration Building gave students a new space for studying and taking classes. Varsity Gymnasium is dedicated as the Don Shula Sports Center. The Student Center is named for D. J. Lombardo.

1995

The John G. and Mary Jane Breen Learning Center, an addition to Grasselli Library that doubled its size, is dedicated. Successful completion of a $50 million capital campaign to increase endowment and to add to major building facilities.

1996

Celebration of Cleveland’s Centennial and John Carroll’s 110th anniversary. The John M. and Mary Jo Boler School of Business is dedicated.

1997

A record $17,395,000 is raised in philanthropic gift support prompted by a $10 million Challenge Grant from John M. ’56 and Mary Jo Boler. The Jesuit residence, Schell House is also completed.

1998

The St. Ignatius of Loyola statue, a gift from the class of 1962, is dedicated. Bernet Hall is also renovated and reopened with suite units.

1999

The Edward M. Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship is established. Schott Student Dining Hall is renovated and modernized.

2000s

2000

Rodman Hall renovation completed to house administrative offices. The Labyrinth is also built on Rodman Terrace. Charles and Helen Dolan pledge $20 million toward the construction of new science and technology center.

2001

A $7 million renovation of Administration Building completed including all classrooms being equipped with audio, video, and internet capabilities. Groundbreaking for the Dolan Center for Science and Technology occurs and the Fairmount Circle shopping center is purchased.

2002

Renovation of athletic facilities including Don Shula Stadium begins. Jack and Mary Jane Breen make $3 million gift to support Catholic Studies. Board of Trustees renamed Board of Directors; Board of Regents created.

2003

The Dolan Center for Science and Technology is opened and dedicated. Renovations of athletic facilities are completed and the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center dedicated. Don Shula Stadium at Wasmer Field completed and dedicated. Entire 60-acre campus becomes wireless environment as a result of $1.2 million gift from Tim Donahue and partnership with Nextel. The Said Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies established.

2004

Four apartment buildings near Fairmount Circle are purchased. The University serves as a major host of the International Children’s Games.

2007

The University presents a new Vision, Mission, Core Values, and Strategic Initiatives Statement.

2008

The Corinthian apartment building on Fairmount Circle and the temple property on Green Road are purchased. A new state-of-the-art television studio is built in the O’Malley Center. The LSC Conference Room, Murphy Room, Jardine Room, and Schott Student Dining Hall are renovated. The Corbo Athletic room is renovated to include new equipment.

2009

The Department of Communication and Theatre Arts is named after Tim Russert ’72 and the NBC/John Carroll University Meet the Press Fellowship is initiated. Two additional apartment buildings on Fairmount Circle are purchased, the David R. Meuse Wrestling Room is dedicated, and the Bohannon Center is closed. The Academic Planning Task Force is launched. 11 proposals for new academic programs funded by seed money from an anonymous donor are presented.

2010

Phase 1 of the Academic Planning Task Force’s plan is completed in January; Phase 2 is initiated in Fall 2010. The campus continues to go green with the removal of the temporary lot and restoration of the Hamlin Quad, along with the creation of a Sustainability Committee.

2018

The Boler School of Business becomes the Boler College of Business as a result of a $10 million challenge gift from The Boler Family Foundation.

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D. is inaugurated as the 25th president, and first lay leader, of John Carroll University. 

Presidents
  • 1886-1888: John B. Neustich, S.J.
  • 1888-1893: Henry Knappmeyer, S.J.
  • 1893-1897: Joseph P. LeHalle, S.J.
  • 1897-1902: Godfrey Schulte, S.J.
  • 1902-1906: John Zahm, S.J.
  • 1906-1910: George J. Pickel, S.J.
  • 1910-1915: John B. Furay, S.J.
  • 1915-1919: William B. Sommerhauser, S.J.
  • 1919-1925: Thomas J. Smith, S.J.
  • 1925-1928: Murtha J. Boylan, S.J.
  • 1928-1937: Benedict J. Rodman, S.J.
  • 1937: William M. Magee, S.J.
  • 1937: George J. Pickel, S.J.
  • 1937-1942: Edmund C. Horne, S.J.
  • 1942-1946: Thomas J. Donnelly, S.J.
  • 1946-1956: Frederick E. Welfle, S.J.
  • 1956-1967: Hugh E. Dunn, S.J.
  • 1967-1970: Joseph O. Schell, S.J.
  • 1970-1980: Henry F. Birkenhauer, S.J.
  • 1980-1988: Thomas P. O’Malley, S.J.
  • 1988-1995: Michael J. Lavelle, S.J.
  • 1996-1998: John J. Shea, S.J.
  • 1998-2005: Edward Glynn, S.J.
  • 2005-2017: Robert L. Niehoff, S.J.
  • 2018-present: Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
The Jesuits

As a Jesuit University, John Carroll University draws upon the intellectual resources and educational experience of the Society of Jesus, which has operated colleges and universities for more than four centuries. Jesuits on the faculty and in the administration help impart the particular character and value of Jesuit education which make John Carroll University a unique institution in its region. A lay and religious faculty share the educational enterprise of service to its students and the community.

As a University, John Carroll is committed to the transmission and extension of the treasury of human knowledge with the autonomy and freedom appropriate to a university. As a Catholic university, it is further committed to seek and synthesize all knowledge, including the wisdom of Christian revelation. In the search for this integration of knowledge, the University community is enriched by scholarship representing the pluralistic society in which we live. All can participate freely in the intellectual, moral, and spiritual dialog necessary to the search. Within this dialog, in which theological and philosophical questions play a crucial role, students have the opportunity to develop, synthesize, and live a value system based on respect for and critical evaluation of fact; on intellectual, moral and spiritual principles which enable them to cope with new problems; and on the sensitivity and judgment that prepare them to engage in responsible social action.

In a Jesuit university, the presence of Jesuits and others who are inspired by the vision of Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus in 1540, is of paramount importance. This vision, which reflects the value system of the Gospels, is expressed in the Spiritual Exercises, the source of Jesuit life and activity. To education the Jesuit spirit brings:

  • A rationality appropriately balanced by human affection
  • An esteem for the individual as a unique person
  • Training in discerning choice
  • Openness to change
  • A quest for God’s greater glory in the use of this world’s goods

John Carroll University welcomes students and faculty from different religious backgrounds and value systems, in the belief that the educational environment which the University provides is one which these students and faculty may find congenial, rewarding, and enriched by their presence. Within this environment, there is concern for the human and spiritual developmental needs of the students, and a deep respect for the freedom and dignity of the human person.

The University places primary emphasis on instructional excellence. A faculty not only professionally qualified, but also student oriented, considers excellence in interpersonal relationships as well as academic achievement among its primary goals.

female student outside of building

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