On Sept. 12, 2021, Newman University celebrates 88 full years as a Catholic educational institution.
Newman also recognizes the 99th birthday of Sacred Heart Hall, the oldest building on campus, on Sept. 12.
To celebrate the anniversary of the university’s founding, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) Sisters handed out free ice cream bars on campus by mode of a musical golf cart on Monday, Sept. 13.
A foundational past
Though buildings, administration, faculty, staff and students have certainly changed over the last 88 years, Newman’s roots remain the same. Founded by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and named for St. John Henry Newman, the mission of Newman University is to empower graduates to transform society.
As we soar into the future, we reflect on the milestones that led Newman University to today.
In the village of Acuto, Italy, a young woman named Maria De Mattias founds the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC), a religious order of women.
The ASC Sisters would go on to become the sponsoring religious congregation of Newman University.
ASC Sisters (primarily teachers) are missioned to Westphalia, Kansas.
The ASC Sisters expand their mission as far west as Wichita, Kansas. They purchase a six-acre piece of land, which Henry Dugan, a local farmer, had donated to the Catholic Diocese when Most Rev. J. J. Hennessy was bishop of Wichita. Here the Adorers established St. John’s Institute, a boarding school for girls.
A boys’ school is added to St. John’s Institute. This former Dugan property would eventually become the heart of the Newman University campus.
A growing demand for state-certified teachers leads to the formation of the Sisters College of the Diocese of Wichita, a branch of the Municipal University of Wichita (present-day Wichita State University) which lasted for five years.
Sacred Heart Hall is completed Sept. 12, 1922.
Mother Beata Netemeyer names the first provincial of the Wichita Adorers in 1929.
Mother Beata Netemeyer establishes Sacred Heart Junior College with the guidance and assistance of Leon A. McNeill, a member of the diocesan clergy and the superintendent of the Diocesan Catholic Schools.
The college opens on Sept. 12, 1933, with “no personnel, no finances and very limited facilities” at the height of the Great Depression that engulfed the world. Sisters are trained as teachers and provide education for lay women in the fields of teacher education, nursing, secretarial science and home economics.
The class of 1935 marks the first graduating class of Sacred Heart Junior College. There were 17 graduates.
Sacred Heart expands its curriculum, degree offerings and faculty, and the college becomes a four-year institution. De Mattias Hall, a facility that included a stage, gymnasium, and music and art classrooms, was also completed; it was torn down approximately 50 years later.
Men are admitted to the college, but enrollment is limited to evening courses and summer sessions.
The college establishes a lay advisory board, leading to the formation of a board of directors known today as the Board of Trustees.
McNeill Hall is built, and its original purpose is a dormitory for students.
Sacred Heart College becomes a coeducational institution.
The Marciana Heimerman, ASC Science Center is completed.
Sacred Heart enters intercollegiate athletics and receives accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary schools. The building of Merlini Hall is completed.
The college’s name is changed to Kansas Newman College to reflect the continued growth of the institution, the expanded range of educational programs, and to honor St. John Henry Newman, the 19th century theologian and scholar known for his writings on the liberal arts and education.
A 10-year development program, leading to the 50th anniversary of the college, is launched to raise funds, update the curriculum and strengthen faculty credentials.
Women’s intercollegiate athletics program is introduced.
A nursing degree program is established.
Strategic plans define the mission of the college to guide it toward the 21st century. These plans lead to increased enrollment, development of programs for returning adults, and usher in the 1990s, which were dominated by two major capital campaigns for campus improvements.
The building project of Eck Hall is completed.
The O’Shaughnessy Sports Complex is built.
The institution changes its name to Newman University.
The Mabee Dining Center, Gorges Atrium, De Mattias Fine Arts Center, and Beata Hall are all completed in 2000, funded by campaigns under the able leadership of Tarcisia Roths, ASC, who served as the 9th president of the university.
Sister Tarcisia establishes Newman’s Mentor Wall, housed in the Gorges Atrium and chose Sylvia Gorges, ASC, the 5th president, as her mentor. It was during the tenures of these two women religious that the majority of the Newman campus was built and renovated.
On May 18, 2003, Maria De Mattias is proclaimed a Catholic Saint by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Newman offers more than forty undergraduate and several graduate programs.
Through an inspiring vision, Newman challenges itself to become a leader in Catholic higher education in the heartland of the United States. Its goal is to spread this to all corners of the world as its alumni are found on each continent of the globe and are recognized leaders in their communities.
Newman welcoms its 11th president, Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., the first lay woman to serve in this position.
Dedication of the Dugan Library and Campus Center occurred on November 9, 2007 as part of the inauguration ceremonies for Dr. Carrocci.
Another successful fund drive is completed, resulting in construction of a 56,000 sq. ft. library and campus center named for the Dugan family (grandchildren of Henry Dugan, original owner of the land).
A city street that formerly ran through the campus is rerouted.
Fugate Hall and Carrocci Hall open for on-campus student residency.
The creation of a pedestrian mall housing Founders Plaza takes place. The plaza honors 230 ASC Sisters, who served on campus since 1902.
The first ASC Sister to be listed is Clementine Zerr. Sister Clementine was a resilient Adorer, who accompanied sisters from the “Germanys” to the United States and was one of the first four sisters to come to Wichita in 1902.
The plaza also displays a bronze statue of St. Maria De Mattias with a college-age student.
Newman celebrates its 75th anniversary, with yearlong events and activities including the revival of Party on the Ponderosa.
The Strategic Plan (2009-2014) is written and approved.
On September 19, 2010, John Henry Newman is beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in England. The university sponsors a Cardinal Newman Tour as part of its celebration of this momentous occasion.
The Campus Master Plan is approved in May, 2010; it provides a framework leading the university to its centennial celebration.
Newman University is cited with accolades from the state legislature and other regional and local organizations in its 80th anniversary.
A new Strategic Plan for 2014-2019 is completed and approved by the Board of Trustees in May, 2014.
The renovation of Eck Hall is completed.
Construction of the Bishop Gerber Science Center begins.
All Alumni Reunion is held June, 2016, on the Newman campus.
The 2017 Alumni Reunion occurs June 23-25; the All Academy Reunion is held June 22, 2017.
The Bishop Gerber Science Center is completed in time for classes in August, 2017. Dedication of the new state-of-the-art science center is held on Sept. 21, 2017.
The university begins work on the next strategic plan.
The 2018 All-Alumni Weekend is held April 20-21.
The dedication of Heimerman Plaza, the Gerber Family Commons, and the Bishop Gerber Sculpture is held April 20. This dedication is a chance for our Newman community to honor a great part of its history.
The university celebrated its 85th anniversary on Sept. 12, 2018.
Newman University celebrates the canonization of St. John Henry Newman by Pope Francis Oct. 13, 2019. The university sponsors a special tour group, who attended the ceremonies at the Vatican and visited special places which honor Newman University’s heritage. The Newman Community also celebrated on the Wichita campus with many events and programs.
Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., the university’s 11th president, announces her retirement in the summer of 2019.
The Board of Trustees appoints a search committee to identify and hire her successor.
Teresa Hall Bartels, former chairperson of the Board of Trustees, takes over as interim president Jan. 10, 2020. Bartels resigns as board chair and J. T. Klaus ’87, vice-chair, takes on the role while Ron Rabe becomes vice-chair.
Kathleen S. Jagger, Ph.D., MPH, becomes the university’s 12th president July 1, 2020.
As the world begins a new decade, the gravity of the pandemic alters the university’s normal way of operation. Everyone is profoundly affected, and together, begins moving out of the darkness and into the light as the community turns to let the light of God guide the journey.
The university’s first doctorate programs are established: the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice and the Doctor of Business Administration.
The presidential inauguration of Kathleen S. Jagger, Ph.D., MPH, is scheduled for Oct. 7, 2021 on the Newman campus.
As Newman University looks forward to its mission-driven and vision-focused future, the sponsorship, presence and prayerful support of the ASC are treasured by the Newman community.
Dedicated donors as well as faculty, staff, alumni and prayerful supporters all help strengthen the quality of education for our students and allow us to continue our mission to empower students to transform society. Thank you for the role you have played in making a degree of difference.
Ways to Give to Newman University
Whether you make a pledge, endowment, match a gift or support through charitable donation, there are many ways to support and empower the graduates of tomorrow at Newman University.