St. Bonaventure University is a private, Franciscan Catholic university, located in Allegany, Cattaraugus County, New York, United States. It has roughly 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students.
The university was established by the Franciscan Brothers in 1858. Its current president is Sister Margaret Carney OSF STD, the 20th president and the first religious sister to hold the position full-time.
In athletics, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies play NCAA Division I sports in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Students and alumni often refer to the university as Bona's, derived from the school's original name, St. Bonaventure's College. The college became a university in 1950.
The college was founded by Utica financier Nicholas Devereux, one of the first to gain land grants in newly surveyed Cattaraugus County from the Holland Land Company. Devereux founded the town of Allegany on the grant, hoping to build a new city. He believed the city would need religious instruction, so Devereux approached John Timon, the bishop of Buffalo, for assistance. The two invited the Franciscan order to Western New York, and a small group under Father Pamfilo da Magliano OFM arrived in 1856. This was the first group of Franciscan brothers to settle in the United States. The school graduated its first class in 1858. St. Bonaventure's College was granted university status by New York State in 1950. The largest residence hall on campus, Devereux Hall, is named for the founder.
Once one of the nation's most prominent Catholic colleges, St. Bonaventure ran into financial difficulties in the early 1990s, and nearly declared bankruptcy in 1994. Since then, the school has been put on a more solid financial footing and has seen record growth and campus improvements in the past five years.
Thomas Merton, the religious writer, taught English at St. Bonaventure for a year just at the start of World War II. It was at this school that Merton finally gave into his vocation and decided to join the Trappists. He entered the monastery in Kentucky in 1941. A heart-shaped clearing on a mountain in view of campus is linked to Merton in campus myth. Some students call it "Merton's Heart" and claim that Merton visited the place often and that the trees fell when he died. In reality, the hillside had been cleared for oil drilling in the 1920s and trees have since regrown, leaving the bald patch, according to the SBU website.
The campus sits on 500 acres (2.0 km2) in the town of Allegany, just over the line from the city of Olean (total pop.: 15,000), at Exit 24 of Interstate 86. The university has its own U.S. Post Office. The postal address for the university is Saint Bonaventure, NY 14778.
Campus buildings are designed in red brick with Italianate roofs, to reflect the architecture of St. Francis' native Italy. The campus proper has several residence halls, townhouses/apartments and academic buildings. Its expansive front lawn has been cited as the largest front lawn in America.
The past couple of years has seen several campus improvements, including a new $6 million recreation center, a new Starbucks-product coffee café, and completely renovated dining hall and residence hall. The state-of-the-art William F. Walsh Science Center is another recent addition.
The university is a large landowner in the Allegany area, as part of the original Devereux grant, and offers much to appreciators of nature. The south edge of campus lies on the Allegheny River. A small portion of the campus is wooded. Across the street from campus, the university owns a cemetery, 9-hole golf course, and restaurant.
About 25 miles (40 km) from the main campus, the university also has the opportunity to experience the Franciscan eremitical tradition in the Allegheny Mountain foothills in western Clarksville, New York, at a community called Mount Irenaeus. "The Mount," as it is referred to by students, faculty and alumni, provides a retreat for students. While not owned by the university, Mount Irenaeus has a shared mission with the university and primarily serves its population.
St. Bonaventure also has a second graduate studies center in Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo, on the campus of Hilbert College. Most graduate programs are taught there, set up on a Friday night/Saturday morning schedule. The Hilbert College library, bookstore, cafeteria, athletic facilities and computer lab are available to St. Bonaventure graduate students during the week, including evenings, and on weekends. A computer lab directly linked to the St. Bonaventure network is located at Hilbert College.
The Franciscan connection
The university is named after St. Bonaventure (1221–74), born John of Fidenza, who became a cardinal and Doctor of the Church. A theologian and contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Paris, he became head of the Franciscan order and did much to institutionalize that order. His most famous work is Itinerarium mentis in deum, or The Soul's Journey to God. Bonaventure was canonized in 1482 by Sixtus IV.
The Franciscan friars at the St. Bonaventure Friary belong to the Holy Name Province and are members of the Order of Friars Minor, OFM, one of the orders of Franciscans.
The Bonaventure friars are involved in a number of activities in the greater Olean community, besides ministry on campus. They administer St. Bonaventure's Parish in Allegany, called "Little Bona's". There is a strong Franciscan presence at Olean General Hospital, and the university operates the Warming House, an area soup kitchen believed to be the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the United States. Also adjacent to campus is the Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, a group of Franciscan religious sisters.
The university is also home to the Franciscan Institute. Founded in 1939 by Fr. Thomas Plassmann, O.F.M., then president of St. Bonaventure College, and led by its first Director, Fr. Philotheus Boehner, O.F.M., the Franciscan Institute stands as the preeminent center in North America of teaching, research and publication on the history, spirituality and intellectual life of the Franciscan movement.
Recently the University took part in a conference through the Franciscan Institute. St. Bonaventure was host to one part of a four part world wide conference series on John Duns Scotus. There were four parts, only one of which was in America at St. Bonaventure. The other three were in Germany, Italy and Oxford, England.
The University today
The school is well known in New York state and the mid-Atlantic region for its journalism, business and education programs, having produced five Pulitzer Prize-winning writers.
The university has more than 50 academic programs. These include combined degree health care programs guarantee admission to medical school for more than 30 students annually, preparing freshmen for careers in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy or pharmacy.
St. Bonaventure is accredited by the Middle States Association, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts hosts several art galleries and a 321-seat theater.
St. Bonaventure is home to the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Its campus newspaper, The Bona Venture, has been published continuously since 1926. Known on campus as The BV, the newspaper has earned The Pacemaker Award numerous times from the Associated Collegiate Press, the last time in 1994. The school is also home to The Laurel, the nation's oldest continuously published college literary magazine. The school's student radio station, WSBU 88.3 The Buzz, is ranked No. 4 nationally by The Princeton Review and has been ranked in the top 5 — and No. 1 on more than one occasion — for more than a decade.
The school has a unique organization known as SFM (Students for the Mountain). SFM holds retreats for students at the Franciscan Mountain Retreat Centre at Mount Irenaeus, including BonaResponds — which sent nearly 300 people to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and continues to perform relief work at home and across the county — and SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), which has established successful business and education programs in the Bahamas.
St. Bonaventure is strongly identified with the Western New York region. A notable proportion of the student body are from the Buffalo and Rochester metro areas, and references to Buffalo and Rochester—and their Catholic high schools—are common even among students not from those areas. However, the university has students from 31 states and nearly 40 countries.
St. Bonaventure is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference and offers 14 varsity athletic programs. The school's programs are known as the Bonnies, and colors are brown and white.
Four St. Bonaventure alumni have been elected to professional halls of fame: Baseball legends Hughie Jennings and John McGraw, for whom the university's athletic fields are named, are in the Baseball Hall of Fame; Bob Lanier, '70, who led St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Final Four, is in the Basketball Hall of Fame; and Jack Butler, '51, who had a stellar career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team in the 1950s, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
Division I sports offered:
Club sport offerings:
Graduate program offerings
Dual admissions program:
These programs are available for high school students who are looking for careers in health care. To be admitted to these programs, students must have suitable credentials and are expected to maintain a specific level of academic performance while at SBU.
Graduate course offerings:
Notable alumni of St. Bonaventure University include:
The school boasts five Pulitzer Prize winners as alumni.
Five Members of the United States Congress attended St. Bonaventure.