Benedictine College is a co-educational university in Atchison, Kansas, United States, founded in 1971 by the merger of St. Benedict's College for men and Mount St. Scholastica College for women. It is a Roman Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts, and residential college located on bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, northwest of Kansas City, Missouri. Benedictine is one of a number of U.S. Benedictine colleges, and is sponsored by St. Benedict's Abbey and Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. The abbey has a current population of 53 monks, while the Mount monastery numbers 147 community members. The college has tried to build its core values around four "pillars"—Catholic, Benedictine, Liberal Arts, Residential—which exemplify the Benedictine experience.
Benedictine College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008. The predecessors for the modern university were Mount St. Scholastica College, an all-women's campus established in 1923 and named for Benedict of Nursia's twin sister Scholastica, and St. Benedict's College, an all-men's campus established in 1858 and named for Benedict of Nursia, founder of modern western monasticism. In 1970, Fr. Alcuin Hemmen, OSB, president of St. Benedict's College, announced that St. Benedict's would become a co-educational college. Sr. Mary Noel Walter, OSB, president of Mount St. Scholastica College had been proposing a merger of the two colleges for over a year. Following Fr. Alcuin's announcement, Sr. Mary Noel organized discussion of a merger. It was agreed upon, and the universities merged on July 1, 1971 to form the current Benedictine College. The separate colleges' corporations remain in existence for scholarships and land ownership purposes and allowed the newly formed college a free 50-year lease of the separate colleges' facilities on their campuses. Benedictine College terminated the lease of the facilities on its South Campus from Mount St. Scholastica College on October 1, 1989 amidst financial hardship. It continues to lease property from St. Benedict's College.
The most popular majors at Benedictine are Business, Education and Theology. Commerce, teaching and the faith are historically significant interests of both the college and the Benedictine order.
The School of Business offers five specialized Bachelor degrees and specialized EMBA and MBA degrees. The college publishes the Journal of International Business.
The Education Department offers licensure programs in Elementary Education (K-6); Special Education (K-6 and 6-12); Secondary (6 - 12) and (Pre-K-12) and in Education in Biology, Chemistry, English/Language Arts, French and Spanish, History/Government/Economics/Sociology, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education/Health, Psychology, and Physics. The school offers a Master of Arts in School Leadership (PreK-12).
The Theology Department grew out of St. Benedict's Abbey School of Theology and is the result of a 2007 shift from a Religious Studies program to a Catholic Theology program. The school publicly acknowledges that all Theology professors are to have signed the canon-law mandatum as implemented by the U.S. bishops, and to take the oath of fidelity. The National Catholic Register's Catholic Identity College Guide notes that the president has made a public profession of faith and taken the oath of fidelity; the majority of the board of trustees is Catholic and the school's mandatum requirement is public. According to the Cardinal Newman Society's "The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College" guide, the theology department shares the college's institutional commitment to the magisterium of the Catholic Church.
Benedictine College recently added an Engineering Department in which students earn ABET-accredited degrees in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering or Chemical Engineering. Another recent addition is a fully accredited nursing program, dedicated to Mother Teresa of Calcutta who once visited Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison.
Benedictine College's Discovery Program gives students the opportunity to create and present original projects in any discipline. In 2010, Discovery Day included 80 presentations featuring the works of 145 students, 40 faculty/staff members, and 18 academic departments; "more than 1800 students have participated in Benedictine’s Discovery Day events since its inception in 1996. In that time, most faculty members and academic departments have taken an active role in sponsoring student projects."
The college offers programs in the performing arts, in majors such as Art, Music, Music Composition, and Theatre Arts with interdisciplinary majors in Music Marketing, Music Education, and Theatre Arts Management, with minors available in Dance, Theatre Arts, and Music. The college features two performance spaces: the Mabee Theatre seats approximately 130 and the O'Malley-McAllister Auditorium seats around 545 people. The Abbey Church is also utilized for organ recitals, orchestra, and choral performances.
The college's music department traces its roots to Mount St. Scholastica Academy, now the modern Maur Hill - Mount Academy, when in 1863 the Benedictine sisters were said to have first purchased a house and then a piano. The music department of the college was one of the first cooperative departments between the former two colleges, having been formed in 1964.
Mass is offered to students four times daily in several places, including St. Benedict's Abbey in its Abbey Church, St. Benedict's Church (a parish connected to one of the campus dorms, Ferrell Hall), and St. Martin's Chapel (located within the basement of another dorm, St. Martin's Memorial Hall). The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), an evangelical Catholic collegiate leadership apostolate, was founded at Benedictine College by Curtis Martin. Other active religious groups on campus include Communion and Liberation, Pax Christi, Ravens Respect Life, Partners in Prayer (in conjunction with Mount St. Scholastica), Great Adventure Bible Timeline, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Households and Varsity Catholic. and the Knights of Columbus
The college hosts pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land as well as local pilgrimage sites.
Campus worship opportunities include: Life of Prayer, Divine Praise Night featuring adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Thursday night prayer meetings, traditional Catholic processions and Guadalupe Day. Many students participate in perpetual adoration at St. Benedict’s Parish on the edge of campus. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is recited weekly. The president leads the rosary weekly in the chapel.
Students are invited to pray the Divine Office with the monks in St. Benedict’s Abbey or the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. Lectio Divina is also offered at the Mount.
There are several places of prayer on or adjacent to campus: St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Benedict’s Abbey Church, Outdoor Stations of the Cross, Guadalupe Chapel and St. Joseph Chapel in the Abbey. Retreats, conferences and performances that college ministry offers to students includes Jam for the Lamb,” and BC Koinonia.
The school built Mary's Grotto, located in the center of campus, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann dedicated it in 2009. It is one of three outdoor devotional spaces dedicated to Mary located on the campus. The grotto is the site of the May Crowning "send-off" of student vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The college is located within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, though it is not run by the Archdiocese.
The main buildings of Benedictine College are all dedicated to someone or of are important part in BU's history.
Benedictine College teams are known as the Ravens. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and competes in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC). The Ravens compete in fifteen varsity sports. Benedictine’s cheerleading and spirit squads have been recognized nationally.
The mascot "Raven" is associated with St. Benedict, as legend has it a raven would bring the sixth-century saint food during his time as a hermit in the mountains near Subiaco, Italy. The legend also has the raven saving St. Benedict from eating poisoned bread.