Honoring 130 years of education, healthcare, and community in Minneapolis

For more than a century, St. Catherine University’s Minneapolis campus has been a nexus of healing, education, and community. Through its iterations as a school of nursing, college, and finally the official Minneapolis campus of the University, this piece of land has been integral to the work of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and St. Catherine University for educational access and health career programs. Now, it enters its next phase of caring for the dear neighbor, led in new ownership by Fairview Health Services.

This Newswire is an expanded version of the "Katie Diary" article in the fall 2020 edition of St. Catherine University Magazine.
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On October 21, St. Catherine University paid tribute to the Minneapolis campus with a virtual community event.
Read about the virtual event and watch the recording

A vision of expanding student access

Timeline of Minneapolis campus history

In 1887, Archbishop John Ireland invited the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet to assume direction of St. Mary’s Hospital. The CSJs and other faculty and staff developed healthcare programming at the adjacent St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing, which opened in 1900 with the specific goal of educating registered nurses. The school played a significant role in preparing increased numbers of nurses during the World War II era, and also strengthened its precedent in welcoming non-traditional learners, with veterans returning to claim their educations after the war.

In 1964, Anne Joachim Moore, CSJ, ’37, ’47, MAT’01, EdD, led the successful transformation of St. Mary’s School of Nursing into the St. Mary’s Junior College, the nation’s first college dedicated to healthcare. In 1986, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet approved the merger of St. Mary’s Junior College with the College of St. Catherine, and St. Mary’s Hospital merged with Fairview Health Services.

Throughout its different forms as an institution of education, the Minneapolis site continued to fulfill Sr. Anne Joachim’s vision of expanding access to a wider, more diverse range of students facing barriers to a four-year undergraduate education, especially those “disadvantaged by poverty, racial prejudice, physical, psychological, and educational handicaps,” as Sr. Anne Joachim said to the St. Paul Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1963 when asking for their support with the launch of the junior college.

With its emphasis on providing access to non-traditional and historically underserved student populations, the Minneapolis site was “a haven for a diverse student group — including diversity of academic skill levels — to get valuable education, both in terms of the liberal arts emphasis in all of the degree programs and being ready for jobs in the healthcare field, meeting the high-level credentialing that health fields required,” says Mary Broderick, RN, PhD. Broderick has served in a variety of leadership roles since 1965 on the Minneapolis site, including St. Mary's Junior College vice president and academic dean from 1980–1997 and St. Kate’s interim president from 1997–1998. She conducted decades of integral work in program development and accreditation for St. Kate's programs housed in Minneapolis.

The fusing of resources and programs of the Minneapolis site and the College of St. Catherine in 1986 provided greater opportunities to serve students better and in greater numbers, and to advance fields to higher degrees. Similarly, continuing their legacy of responding to the needs of the time, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet opened a new phase for the Minneapolis campus when they gifted the buildings and land to the University in 2017. Their generous donation, a lead gift in LEAD & INFLUENCE: The Campaign for the Next Level of Excellence, enabled the consolidation of both campuses into "One University," as the integration plan was titled.

“The generous gift of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet supports the fulfillment of our strategic plan, building a strong, sustainable foundation for the future and enhancing student access to resources and support,” says ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76, President of St. Catherine University. “The Sisters' legacy and the deep St. Catherine history with the Minneapolis property continue through the stewardship of our longtime partner Fairview Health Services.”

Education Building, Minneapolis campus

“I have these moments of realization of how much we’ve accomplished for the students, for the advancement of the curriculum, for the links with the community — the scope of what we have done together.”

Mary Broderick, St. Mary's Junior College academic dean, 1980–1997; St. Kate’s interim president, 1997–1998 

Continuing a legacy of community care

In June 2019, Fairview Health Services purchased the Minneapolis land from St. Catherine University, a transition that echoes the decades of interwoven history shared by the sites that have been neighbors since the 1880s.

Throughout the years, the Minneapolis campus responded to evolving healthcare needs with development of new programs and employer partnerships throughout the Cedar-Riverside community and larger Twin Cities area.

“Over time, Fairview became one of the primary clinical partners for St. Catherine and the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, and that continues now,” says Broderick. “Their ownership continues the ongoing work of the Sisters and the School of Health,” a legacy rooted in community-oriented healthcare.

To this day, many Fairview employees are alumni or current graduate students of St. Catherine University, and Fairview employees continue to partner with St. Kate’s in regional healthcare initiatives.

One integrated University

The last of the Minneapolis academic programs and offices completed the move to the St. Paul campus this June, six months ahead of schedule. The integration plan re-envisioned the St. Paul campus to create vibrant new learning spaces for both students and faculty, such as the centralized location of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health in Whitby and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences in the Coeur de Catherine. A University work group of faculty, staff, and students organized the move of 20 departments, more than 300 offices, and numerous study lounges, meeting rooms, student lounges, and labs.

With campus integration complete, we join in reflection with the students, alumni, faculty, staff, and Sisters who were fortunate enough to study, live, work, and teach in the Minneapolis campus classrooms, offices, and halls. The beautiful simplicity of the stained-glass windows, the iconic stone steps outside the entrance, and the park where seasonal changes mirrored the passage of each semester are all hallmarks through decades of innovative healthcare education and community work. 

“It was a very special place. The intimacy of it was incredible,” says Holly Clynch, PT, DPT’09, MAOL’02, physical therapy professor and program director. The small size of the campus, she says, allowed the faculty and staff to cultivate a student-centered ethos, in line with the vision of facilitating access for students often facing a variety of barriers. “But in the long run, the community and the culture are not locked into a location, and will continue to live on through us.”

Countless hours of learning, healthcare, and dedicated collaboration are the legacy of those who lived, worked, and learned on the Minneapolis campus, building accomplishments key to St. Kate’s history and future.

“I think about all the jobs, all the families helping build our community, and all the helpers we had in over 600 clinical agencies we had agreements with in the ’80s. We have over 1,000 now,” Broderick says. “I have these moments of realization of how much we’ve accomplished for the students, for the advancement of the curriculum, for the links with the community — the scope of what we have done together.”

The generosity of the Sisters, renowned for their forward thinking, is an investment in St. Catherine students, faculty, staff, and women leaders of today and tomorrow. Just as St. Catherine healthcare history is interwoven with that of Fairview, memories of decades of CSJs, students, faculty, staff, and patients in this space live on with the new ownership of our longstanding partner, and the commitment to education, healing, and well-being of our communities shared by Fairview and St. Catherine University. For the legacy they have built and their enduring gift, which positions the University for a strong, prosperous future, we are deeply grateful to the CSJs.


Related content:

On October 21, 2020, St. Catherine University paid tribute to the Minneapolis campus. Faculty, staff, CSJs, students, and alumni gathered virtually in celebration of the legacy of innovative ideas that those teaching and learning in this space contributed to St. Kate’s.

Read about the tribute

Watch the recording of the event