"Where we learn to learn and go forth knowing we are at the beginning."

~Abbot Timothy Kelly

An historical overview of Saint Martin's University

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 to both traditional and non-traditional students.

The University stands proudly rooted in its unique Benedictine heritage. The monks of St. Martin’s Abbey founded the institution and today remain actively engaged in the life of the campus. 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.

Saint Martin’s 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 grammar school 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, Ph.D. 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, the College became a University; opened a new residence hall, named in honor of president emeritus, David R. Spangler, Ph.D.; and in 2006 Saint Martin’s inaugurated its eighth president.

This year brought many changes to the campus: the opening of the University’s fourth residence, Parsons Hall, named for long-time Saint Martin’s supporters Ken F. Sr. and Gale L. Parsons; the opening of Harned Hall, a state-of-the-art academic building, honoring H.C. “Joe” Harned; groundbreaking of the Recreation and Fitness Center which is slated for completion in Fall 2009; naming of new President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D.; as well as the dedication of a world-class track and field facility and the Jan Halliday ’89 Memorial Plaza.

The values of the University: 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 114 years, and as it progresses in the 21st century, it will flourish.