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.
Saint Martin’s 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 Saint 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 their degrees.
After World War II, hundreds of veterans arrived at Saint Martin’s
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 has become a signature building on the campus. In
2005, Spangler Hall, a new residence hall named in honor of President
Emeritus David R. Spangler, Ph.D., was completed. That same year, Saint
Martin’s College 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.
In 2011, the name of the street guiding guests through Saint Martin’s
main entrance was changed from 6th Avenue to “Abbey Way” — part of the
transformation of north campus that culminated in early 2013 with the
courtyard renovation behind Old Main. In January of 2013, the new Fr.
Richard Cebula, O.S.B. Hall opened, providing a Platinum LEED-certified
home for the Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering.
Through decades of change and growth, the University has held true to
its Benedictine values — community, hospitality, stewardship, listening
and dignity of work, among others — which remain central to life at
Summa cum laude
Candidate has earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.90 to 4.00
and is distinguished by the gold cord worn around the neck.
Magna cum laude
Candidate has earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.70 to 3.89
and is distinguished by the silver cord worn around the neck.
Honors cum laude
Candidate has earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 to 3.69
and is distinguished by the bronze cord worn around the neck.
Society of Fellows
The Society of Fellows is the University’s honor society. It was founded
in 1971 to distinguish members of the student body and faculty who, by
their outstanding work in teaching and learning, contribute to the
intellectual life of the University. Students, who are nominated for the
society, are inducted once specific criteria established by the society
are met. These students wear the medallion of the society with their
Any student with a minimum of 64 semester hours of completed
coursework, at least 32 hours of which were earned in residence, is
eligible for graduation with honors. The cumulative grade point average
for all completed coursework that appears as part of the student’s
official transcript will be used to determine the appropriate academic
honor according to the following standards. Thus, grades earned in
courses completed at Saint Martin’s University and at other colleges and
universities will count in the calculation of graduation honors.
The origins of academic dress date back to the 12th
and 13th centuries, when universities were taking form.
Long gowns were worn and may have been necessary for
warmth in unheated buildings. Hoods seem to have served
to cover the tonsured head until superseded for that
purpose by the skull cap.
In the days of Henry VIII of England, Oxford and
Cambridge first began prescribing a definite academic
dress and made it a matter of university control even to
the extent of its minor details. The assignment of
colors to signify certain faculties was to be a much
later development, and one which was to be standardized
in the United States only in the late 19th century.
White taken from the white fur trimming of the Oxford
and Cambridge B.A. hoods was assigned to arts and
letters. Red, one of the traditional colors of the
church, went to theology. Green, the color of medieval
herbs, was adopted for medicine, and olive, because it
was so close to green, was given to pharmacy. Golden
yellow, standing for the wealth which scientific
research has produced, was assigned to the sciences.
In 1893, an Intercollegiate Commission made up of
representatives of leading institutions gathered to
establish a suitable system of academic apparel. In 1932
the American Council on Education authorized the
appointment of a committee “to determine whether
revision and completion of the academic code adopted by
the conference of the colleges and universities in 1895
is desirable at this time, and, if so, to draft a
revised code and present a plan for submitting the code
to the consideration of the institutional members of the
Council.” The committee reviewed the situation through
correspondence and conference and approved a code for
academic costumes that has been in effect since that
A Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies,
appointed by the American Council on Education in 1959,
again reviewed the costume code and made several
changes. In 1986, the committee updated the code and
added a sentence clarifying the use of the color dark
blue for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.
The gown for the bachelor’s degree has pointed sleeves.
It is designed to be worn closed. The gown for the master’s degree has an
oblong sleeve, open at the wrist, like the others. The sleeve base hangs
down in the traditional manner. The rear part of its oblong shape is square
cut, and the front part has an arc cut away. The gown is so designed and
supplied with fasteners that it may be worn open or closed. The gown for the
doctor’s degree has bell-shaped sleeves. It is so designed and supplied with
fasteners that it may be worn open or closed.
The length of the hood worn for the bachelor’s degree
must be three feet, for the master’s degree three and one-half feet, and for
the doctor’s degree, four feet. The hood worn for the doctor’s degree only
shall have panels at the sides. The hoods are to be lined with the official
color or colors of the college or university conferring the degree.
Mortarboards are generally recommended. A long tassel is
to be fastened to the middle point of the top of the cap only and to lie as
it will thereon. The tassel should be black or the color appropriate to the
subject, with the exception of the doctor’s cap that may have a tassel of
– American Council on Education
For all academic purposes, including trimmings of doctors' gowns, edging of
hoods, and tassels of caps, the colors associated with the different
disciplines are as follows:
|Arts, letters, humanities
|Commerce, accountancy, business
|Fine Arts, including architecture
|Public administration, including foreign service