St. Catharine College stands in the company of a handful of small independent colleges in Kentucky with a distinctive mission. Founded from the tradition and spirit of the Kentucky Dominican Sisters, whose determination and vision saw the need for a faith-based education to prepare young women for lives of service as teachers, St. Catharine College today is realizing its full potential to serve the unmet educational needs of Central Kentucky. Since that opening day in 1931, St. Catharine College has been guided by a clear sense of purpose: to provide an affordable educational opportunity to students of diverse faiths in an environment of active Christian caring. More than seven decades later, the dreams and determination of those who founded and nourished the college is reflected in the pride and confidence the people of Central Kentucky have in St. Catharine College to this day. Worthwhile endeavors seldom come easy. St. Catharine has faced many challenges over the years which include a fire that destroyed the entire Dominican complex in 1904, a severe drought which devastated crops on the farm that once was the primary source of food and resources and financial crises. As recently as the fall semester of 2001, as the college was adjusting to its largest enrollment ever, President Huston was called to active duty by the United States Coast Guard at a time of national emergency following the terrorist attack on America on September 11. However, each success in overcoming these obstacles has further strengthened the college. During the most difficult times the college’s clear sense of purpose has sustained it as it continues to grow.
In 1990, faced with mounting pressures and declining enrollment, former Governor Martha Layne Collins, the first woman to serve as the Chief Executive of Kentucky, came to St. Catharine as its eighth president. Governor Collins brought fresh focus to the college’s mission and began a process of revitalizing the campus and curriculum. In early 1997 William D. Huston, former Secretary of the Kentucky Workforce Cabinet, came to St. Catharine as president to rebuild its infrastructure and prepare it for the 21st century. Under President Huston’s leadership, St. Catharine College moved dramatically forward. Four new academic programs were launched and campus facilities were upgraded and expanded.
Vision 2001 and Beyond
In 1998, the St. Catharine College Board of Trustees, having carefully assessed the college’s potential and future direction, launched Vision 2001 and Beyond. The Vision identified a $12.5 million campus expansion that included new academic programs, expanded technology, campus-technology upgrades, new residence halls, a student life center, an academic and health science center, endowment and scholarship funds.
Shaping the Vision
Integral to the Vision 2001 and Beyond plans and the future of St. Catharine College was the critical need to complete the Health and Science complex project to support new and expanding programs. The expansion of the St. Catharine curriculum into the health sciences has been driven by the need for educated professional personnel in specialized health care and diagnostic services in and around the central Kentucky region. Already 35 percent of St. Catharine’s enrollment is made up of students enrolled in health science programs.
The new Hamilton Health and Science building, completed in 2005, has greatly enhanced St. Catharine’s educational program and ensures that the college maintains the level of excellence that has become its hallmark. It has also allowed the college to meet its growing need for general academic space. This new facility has increased enrollment capacity in programs that prepare graduates for good professional jobs while meeting the needs of the entire Central Kentucky region. It includes three modern laboratories for biology, chemistry, and physics, 12 general classrooms, two computer laboratories, two seminar rooms, a conference room and an auditorium. There is also space for faculty offices, study rooms, board rooms and storage areas. It includes state-of-the-art equipment, ensuring the college’s position as a leader in these areas.
On the Horizon