A 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
14 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 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 monks of St. Martin’s Abbey founded the institution and today remain
actively engaged in the life of the campus.
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, and two years later, its first graduates received
After World War II, hundreds of veterans arrived at the College and
enrolled 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, Saint Martin’s
broadened its reach and 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, now known as Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The 1980s
brought the addition of graduate courses and the creation of the Institute
for Pacific Rim Studies, which has since evolved into the University’s
highly regarded Office of International Programs and Development.
In 2001, the O’Grady Library opened, providing students with a
much-needed resource. Designed by world-renowned architect Michael Graves,
the library became a signature building on the campus. In 2005, a new
residence hall was opened, Spangler Hall, named in honor of president
emeritus, David R. Spangler, Ph.D. That same year, Saint Martin’s officially
became Saint Martin’s University, to more accurately reflect the
institution’s nature, better fulfill its mission, and recognize the wide
variety of undergraduate and graduate programs available to students.
The years 2008 and 2009 brought many changes to the campus: the opening
of the University’s fourth residence hall, 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; the dedication of a world-class track and field facility and the Jan
Halliday ’89 Memorial Plaza; and the completion of Charneski Recreation and
Fitness Center. At the beginning of 2009, the University welcomed its tenth
president, Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D.
The values of the University—love of learning, integrity, community,
hospitality, and stewardship—are all rooted in the Benedictine heritage and
remain central to life at Saint Martin’s.