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It is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River

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Saint Louis University (SLU) is a private Catholic research university located in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. It was founded on November 16, 1818, by the Most Reverend Louis William Valentine DuBourg, the Bishop of Louisiana and the Floridas, and is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River.

SLU has a rich history that spans over two centuries. Here are some key points:

Early Years (1818-1900):

  • Saint Louis University was established as a small Catholic college in a one-room log cabin in St. Louis. Initially, it was known as the Saint Louis Academy.
  • In 1829, the academy was chartered as a university, making it the first university in the state of Missouri.
  • The university faced financial difficulties in its early years, and its development was slow. However, it persevered and gradually expanded its academic programs.

Expansion and Growth (1900-1950):

  • The turn of the 20th century marked a period of growth for Saint Louis University. The university expanded its campus, constructed new buildings, and established several new schools and colleges.
  • In 1910, the School of Medicine was founded, which played a significant role in the development of medical education in the region.
  • SLU became a major center for scientific research during World War II when it participated in defense-related research projects.

Modern Era (1950-Present):

  • In the post-war era, SLU continued to grow and diversify its academic offerings. New schools and programs were established, including the School of Nursing, School of Engineering, and the College of Philosophy and Letters (now known as the College of Arts and Sciences).
  • The university underwent significant changes in the late 20th century, with a focus on enhancing its reputation as a research institution. It expanded its facilities, recruited renowned faculty, and increased research funding.
  • SLU became more involved in community service and social justice initiatives, embracing its Jesuit Catholic mission. It established the Center for Service and Community Engagement and strengthened its commitment to serving the underprivileged.
  • The university has made advancements in various fields, including health sciences, law, business, and theology. It has also developed strong partnerships with local organizations, hospitals, and businesses.

Today, Saint Louis University is recognized as a leading institution of higher education in the Midwest. It offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across its multiple schools and colleges. The university continues to emphasize research, innovation, and service to society, while fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment.

Historical Facts

  • Founding: Saint Louis University was founded on November 16, 1818, by Bishop Louis William Valentine DuBourg, making it the oldest university west of the Mississippi River.
  • Early Campus: The original campus of SLU was located near the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis. The first classes were held in a single log cabin.
  • Charter as a University: In 1829, the institution received a charter from the Missouri General Assembly, officially becoming a university. It was initially known as Saint Louis Academy and College.
  • Jesuit Influence: In 1823, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) took control of Saint Louis University, establishing a long-lasting Jesuit tradition that continues to this day.
  • Medical School: In 1836, SLU opened its medical school, which later evolved into the renowned Saint Louis University School of Medicine. It is one of the oldest medical schools west of the Mississippi.
  • Civil War Era: During the American Civil War, the SLU campus served as a hospital and a refuge for wounded soldiers from both Union and Confederate armies.
  • Growth and Expansion: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, SLU experienced significant growth. New buildings were constructed, and additional schools and colleges were established, including the School of Law (1843) and the School of Engineering (1901).
  • Landmark Buildings: SLU's campus features several notable buildings, including DuBourg Hall, which was completed in 1888 and remains a prominent symbol of the university. Another iconic structure is the Saint Francis Xavier College Church, built in 1884, which serves as the spiritual heart of the campus.
  • Social Justice Advocacy: Saint Louis University has a strong commitment to social justice. In the 1960s, the university played an active role in the civil rights movement, hosting events and supporting advocacy efforts.
  • Research and Innovation: In recent decades, SLU has expanded its focus on research and innovation. The university has received significant grants and recognition for its contributions to fields such as biomedical research, public health, and sustainability.
  • Campus Revitalization: SLU has engaged in extensive campus revitalization efforts, transforming the surrounding neighborhood and creating a vibrant academic and residential environment.
  • Global Engagement: Saint Louis University has expanded its global reach through partnerships and study abroad programs. It has established campuses in Madrid, Spain, and Bangkok, Thailand, offering opportunities for international education.

These historical facts highlight the evolution of Saint Louis University from its humble beginnings to its current status as a prestigious educational institution with a rich tradition of academic excellence and service.