Saint John's University, founded in 1857 by Benedictine monks who came to serve the needs of German Catholic immigrants, is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the Midwest. From its inception the university has valued the liberal arts as a preparation for careers of leadership in church and society. The university's undergraduate and graduate programs continue under the sponsorship of Saint John's Abbey.
Saint John's curriculum is taught by a distinguished faculty, with a diverse educational and religious background. Many members of the faculty excel in research and scholarship, in addition to their primary commitment to teaching. The educational program is enhanced by endowed faculty chairs: the John and Elizabeth Myers Chair in Management; the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish Christian Learning; the William and Virginia Clemens Chair in Economics and the Liberal Arts; the McNeely Chair in Critical Thinking; and the Butler Family's Virgil Michel Ecumenical Chair in Rural Social Ministries. Approximately 20 percent of the faculty are members of Saint John's Abbey.
In addition to the undergraduate program offered in cooperation with the College of Saint Benedict, the Saint John's School of Theology offers master's degrees in theology, pastoral ministry, liturgical studies and liturgical music. The faculty, composed of monks in partnership with lay men and women, diocesan and religious priests, women religious and ministers from other traditions, instructs a diverse student body of men and women, committed with the faculty to the search for God in Jesus Christ. The School of Theology operates in conjunction with the Saint John's Seminary which prepares men for priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Saint John's campus is remarkable in both its natural and architectural beauty. The greater campus, designated an arboretum in 1997, is located on a 2,450-acre tract of land. It includes an extensive pine and hardwood forest, an oak savannah and 50 acres of restored prairie, as well as Lake Sagatagan, Stumpf Lake, several smaller lakes and 60 acres of restored wetlands. The buildings at Saint John's date from the 1860s and are arranged in a series of quadrangles and courtyards to the north of Lake Sagatagan. At the center of the Saint John's campus is the Abbey and University Church, one of 10 campus buildings designed by Marcel Breuer. With its towering bell banner and three-story wall of stained glass, the church is among the most striking pieces of 20th- century architecture.
The location of the campus, combined with the Benedictine influence, creates a close community of faculty, staff and students. About 80 percent of the student body lives on campus. The residential program, an integral part of the Saint John's educational experience, is made distinctive by Benedictine professors and administrators, called faculty residents, who live among students.
Saint John's seeks to foster a complete education which includes physical as well as intellectual development and life-long balance between the two. Saint John's students are active participants in varsity, intramural and club sports. Saint John's teams have excelled in intercollegiate athletics and, in recent years, have earned all-sports awards in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) and have competed nationally in football, tennis, track and field, swimming and diving, cross-country, soccer, wrestling, baseball, golf, hockey and basketball.