An historical overview of Saint Martin's
Established in 1895, Saint Martin’s
University is a four-year, coeducational Catholic university located in
Lacey, Washington. One of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in
the United States and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains, the
University offers education for both traditional and non-traditional
Saint Martin’s University stands proudly rooted in
its unique Benedictine heritage. The monks of Saint Martin’s Abbey
founded the institution and today remain actively engaged in the life
and support of the University. The Benedictine monks belong to the
oldest monastic order in western civilization, with 1,500 years of
tradition behind them. Over the centuries, their long record of
scholarship and achievement — as teachers, artists and protectors of
culture — have made the Benedictines well-suited to education.
The University began as a school educating boys and
young men in college preparatory classes. College-level classes were
added in 1900. During the Great Depression, the school eliminated its
lower grades and developed its high school and college programs. In
1938, its four-year baccalaureate program was accredited; two years
later, its first graduates received their degrees.
After World War II, hundreds of veterans arrived at
the College to pursue their educations under the G.I. Bill. To meet the
needs of these students, Saint Martin’s augmented its liberal arts
curriculum by adding programs in accounting, business and engineering.
In 1965, well ahead of many Catholic colleges and
universities in the United States, Saint Martin’s became coeducational.
In 1972, the College began serving the needs of part-time adult students
with the establishment of extension programs at nearby Fort Lewis Army
Post and McChord Air Force Base. In the 1980s, Saint Martin’s added
graduate courses. Under the leadership of President John Ishii, the
Institute for Pacific Rim Studies was created and has since evolved into
the University’s well-respected Center for International Programs.
The O’Grady Library opened in 2001, providing the
College with a much-needed resource. Designed by world-renowned
architect Michael Graves, the library became the signature building on
the campus. In 2005-06, the College became a University; opened a new
residence hall, named in honor of retiring, long-time president, David
Spangler; and inaugurated its eighth president, Douglas M. Astolfi,
During 2007-08, Saint Martin’s University broke
ground on two new buildings. Parsons Hall, named for long-time Saint
Martin’s supporters, Ken F. and Gale L. Parsons, Sr., will be the
University’s fourth residence hall. Harned Hall, a state-of-the-art
academic structure, bears the name of another supporter, H.C. “Joe”
Harned. Both buildings are slated for completion in 2008.
The University continues “A Winning Spirit”
Campaign, which is raising $5.5 million to construct a student
recreation center and a soccer and track and field complex.
The University’s strategic vision, in the spirit of
Benedictine hospitality, calls for extending the power of a Saint
Martin’s education to a wider audience of students. The ethical
principles of the University: A love of learning, integrity, community,
hospitality and stewardship are all rooted in the Benedictine heritage
and are all central to life at Saint Martin’s.
The University has successfully navigated the
educational climate for more than 113 years, and as it progresses in the
21st century, it will flourish.