St. Mary's College of Maryland, established in 1840, is an American public, secular liberal arts college located in St. Mary's City, Maryland.
It is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and designated as a Public Honors College (the only one in the state of Maryland and one of few around the U.S.). With about 2,000 enrolled students, the institution offers baccalaureate degrees in 22 disciplines, of which psychology, biology, and economics are among the most popular. It also offers one postgraduate degree, a Masters of Arts in Teaching.
The college shares much of its campus with Historic St. Mary's City, the fourth site of colonization in British North America and one of the premier archaeological sites on the East Coast.
St. Mary's College of Maryland came into existence (on paper only) by an act of the Maryland State Board of Higher Education in 1966. The first bachelor’s (B.A.) degrees were awarded in 1971.
The predecessor institution was St. Mary's Seminary Junior College (1949–1968), in turn preceded by St. Mary's Female Seminary Junior College (1927–1949). Both of these "junior colleges" combined the last two years of high school and the first two years of college, making it a four-year institution. After earning an associate's degree (A.A.) at St. Mary's girls would often continue studies at another university, where they would study for two more years and receive a B.A.
The original St. Mary's Female Seminary was founded by an act of the Maryland legislature in 1840. In 1840, the word "seminary" meant only that it was an academy or a high school, not a religious institution. St. Mary's was established by the legislature to be strictly non-denominational. It was a boarding school that included the elementary grades as well as grades 9-12, though education did not go beyond the 12th grade. Occasionally boys from the neighboring areas were allowed to take classes.
The institution was named after St. Mary's City, the colonial site of Lord Baltimore's experiment in religious tolerance. The institution was built upon land that once had been inhabited by the colonists two hundred years before.
For roughly the first 100 years (1840-1937) of its existence, the head of St. Mary's was called the "principal". When the school received accreditation as a junior college and included within the Maryland state budget in 1937, the term "principal" was changed to "president".
In 2010, Joseph Urgo became the institution's president.
The campus borders the St. Mary's River.
St. Mary's, although a state-operated institution, is independent of the University System of Maryland; it opted out of the system in 1992. However, in early 2006, St. Mary's joined the University of Maryland Academic Telecommunications System (UMATS), which interconnects the University System of Maryland with several other networks, including the Internet and Internet2 networks.
St. Mary's mascot is the Seahawk, which is a nickname for the ospreys that can be found nesting in the near off-shore areas. The school colors are navy blue, yellow gold, and white. The Seahawks compete in NCAA Division III. St. Mary's athletics are recognized for the storied varsity baseball team and the nationally-ranked varsity sailing team.
Goodpaster Hall, an academic building devoted to chemistry, psychology, and educational studies that opened in January 2008, was built to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating of Silver. It is one of few "green" buildings in the state of Maryland.
Other green initiatives include a student-supported green energy referendum, campus composting, and a geothermal system in the new River Center.
St. Mary's College of Maryland and the historic St. Mary's City have a close relationship. Students are often hired to work within the historic site, and those who are not working are frequently found to be walking or biking along the miles of trail throughout Historic. Students may visit the historical site for free.
The Maryland Heritage Project is an effort to bring together the college, historic St. Mary's City, Trinity Episcopal, a church located near the St. Mary's campus, and the wider community. Two new buildings, to be used jointly by the college and Historic St. Mary's City, are being built on campus. One of the buildings is a new interpretive center, which will showcase artifacts from St. Mary's City history – from the colony established in 1634, to the farmlands that replaced that colony in the 18th century, to the founding of the monument school in the mid-19th century, and beyond. The second building will be an academic building that will replace Anne Arundel Hall, a current St. Mary's academic building. This building will include Historic St. Mary's City's research offices, and faculty offices and classrooms for St. Mary's College in anthropology, democracy studies, history, international languages and cultures, and museum studies. It will host collection-based courses and summer institutes.
Nitze Senior Fellows visit St. Mary's College several times throughout their assigned year to give lectures and meet with Nitze Scholars and other St. Mary's College students.
The 2011–2012 Nitze Fellow is Sophie Delaunay, executive director, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in the United States.
Previous Nitze Fellows include:
More than 1,600 students live on-campus in traditional-style residence halls, suites, apartments, and townhouses. Within the residences there are four living-learning centers on campus: an International Languages & Cultures (ILC) House; a Women In Science House (WISH); a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSX) House and an Eco-House. Furthermore, there are nine Substance and Alcohol Free Environment (SAFE) suites and apartments on campus, as well as floor of a residence hall. Other students join the IBA.
There are many opportunities for leadership development on campus, including positions as a Resident Assistant (RA), as an Orientation Leader (OL), on the school's student Judicial Board, as a Multicultural Academic Peer Program (MAPP) Mentor, within the active Student Government Association (SGA), and among the various Programs Boards.
The Student Trustee, a voting member of the Board of Trustees, is chosen from among the students to act as a direct link between the Student Body and the Board of Trustees. Aside from the Student Trustee position, students also participate in numerous other committees with faculty and other members of the administration.
The Seven Wonders are seven notable campus landmarks. New students are inducted into the traditions of SMCM by orientation leaders in a tour of the Seven Wonders during orientation and it is a graduation tradition for the departing class to tour the seven wonders and recount stories the evening before graduation. Thus a student's time at SMCM begins and ends with tours of the Seven Wonders. The seven "wonders" are:
St. Mary's College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Seahawks are a member of the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). In St. Mary's College, there are 15 varsity sports:
St. Mary's College has three different sailing teams on campus, as well as a sailing club, and a windsurfing club. The Varsity Sailing Team and Offshore Sailing Team both compete in intercollegiate events around the country and occasionally in international regattas held in venues such as Europe. The Keelboat Sailing Team competes in racing events held by One Design or PHRF (Handicap) organizations in the Chesapeake Bay and other East Coast locations.
The sailing fleet
St. Mary's College hosts more than 90 student-run, SGA-sponsored clubs.
St. Mary's does not have any sororities or fraternities.
The Arts Alliance of St. Mary's College of Maryland is one of the primary sponsors of the summer River Concert Series. In addition, it funds grants for faculty and guest artists during the year, gives annual cash award to students in the arts, furthers outreach on the college campus and within the outstanding community, and works on the development of the college's art collection.
St. Mary's Baltimore Hall Library subscribes to 1,000 periodicals in print and has access to around 20,000 in electronic format. Furthermore, the school participates in the consortium of Maryland public colleges and universities (USMAI), through which library materials from 15 other institutes in the University of Maryland System are accessible.
National rankings and accolades