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Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving

News of the Diocese

June 6, 2024

Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving
Notre Dame College legacy remembered at Mass of thanksgiving

Alumni, family, friends, faculty, staff, past and present board members and Sisters of Notre Dame gathered on June 1 to bid farewell to Notre Dame College and to remember its legacy that extends more than a century.

Bishop Edward Malesic celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in the auditorium. Father Andrew Turner, president/rector of Borromeo and Saint Mary seminaries, concelebrated the liturgy. They were assisted by altar servers from Gesu Parish and Jeff Stutzman, the bishop’s master of ceremonies.

(See photo gallery above.)

While the occasion could have been somber, the bishop focused on the positive things that resulted from the college’s 102-year history in the Diocese of Cleveland. Some items of historical interest from the college, including the mace carried at graduation, some awards and trophies and the 2022 plaque designating the NDC Administration Building as a city historic landmark for the centennial celebration.

“This is not an easy task,” the bishop said, referring to closing the beloved college. “There are lots of memories here and we hope an enduring legacy will continue to celebrate the 102-year history of Notre Dame College.”

He said NDC is “a place where the best was given to those who came to receive the best.” The Sisters of Notre Dame, who arrived in the diocese in 1877, took their responsibility seriously as the established and grew the college. And as they began aging out, lay people stepped up to help the college continue.

“This should be a time of hope rather than sadness,” the bishop said, acknowledging “the shockwaves that hit when such a beloved institution was unable to carry on its mission. Faith, hope and love will endure here. May those who formed the minds and souls of so many here continue to live on.”

The primary focus was to ensure that students could finish their education and live fulfilling lives, he added.

“This has been a calming place of reflection where people could spend time. But we look to the future with hope and thanksgiving for the many lives this institution has touched and for the people formed here who will continue to have an impact. May we never fail to seek God’s place of peace, justice, love and communion,” he added.

After Mass, attendees moved to the Administration Building where they could enjoy refreshments, mingle, share memories, walk through the building and purchase a variety of statues of the Blessed Virgin.

More about Notre Dame College

The Sisters of Notre Dame arrived in Cleveland in 1877 at the request of the bishop to help educate German-speaking students in the diocese. They taught at St. Peter School and in 1878, established Notre Dame Academy. By 1915, more space was needed so they built on Ansel Road. After 1920, the academy enrolled only girls. Soon the girls and their families were asking for a college where they could continue their education under the sisters.

Notre Dame College opened on Sept. 18, 1922 with 13 women and 11 novices as the first students. Sister Mary Evarista Harks, SND was the first president and tuition was $75.

Articles of incorporation were signed and filed with the state of Ohio on March 30, 1923 and on May 4 of that year, the Ohio Department of Education approved the granting of teaching certificates and bachelor degrees to the new college.

A display in the auditorium lobby shared photos and information about the institution’s history. The college was located on Ansel Road in Cleveland when it opened. After outgrowing that space in 1925, $12,000 was raised to construct a modular classroom building for the college.

On June 9, 1926, the first commencement took place with 13 laywomen and one Sister of Charity receiving bachelor’s degrees and certificates to teach in Ohio high schools.

Ground was broken for a new, larger college on Oct. 31, 1926 on Green Road in South Euclid. It was a simple ceremony attended by Sister Harks and Sister Mary Agnes Bosche, SND, the dean. The first cement was poured on Nov. 26, 1926 and the cornerstone was laid June 5, 1927. The last class graduated from the Ansel Road location on June 6, 1928.

The first Mass was celebrated in the new chapel at the Green Road site on June 7, 1928. On Sept. 17 of that year, 13 seniors, 16 juniors, 21 sophomores and 32 freshmen began classes at the new location. The official dedication ceremony, which drew more than 3,000 people to an open house, was on Nov. 25, 1928.

The college tightened its belt during the Great Depression, beginning in 1929. It incorporated with other area Catholic colleges under the auspices of John Carroll University and was called Notre Dame College of John Carroll University. In April 1930, Notre Dame joined the Ohio College Association. A campaign to increase student enrollment also took place that year.

Between 1933 and 1939, the Sisters of Notre Dame purchased the leased 39 acres on Green Road, dissolved its incorporation of Catholic colleges with JCU and graduated its first Black student.

During World War II, the college was active with Civil Air Defense, it had a Red Cross chapter, endured rationing and blackouts, participated in war bonds sales, offered accelerated classes and had its first on-campus commencement.

In the 1950s, the Notre Dame College Advisory Board was established, Harks Hall was built (1955), the first full-time college president was named and the college’s corporate seal was redesigned.

The 1960s brought more growth, including construction of the new west wing and Providence Hall, both in 1961 and Connelly Center and Alumnae Hall in 1968. Male police officers were admitted beginning that year to a program for an associate degree in sociology.

A highlight of the 1970s was a visit from St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, as well as construction of the Clara Fritzsche Library (1971) and institution of the Weekend College (1978).

In the 1980s, the college was added to the National Register of Historic Places (1984), the Keller Center was built (1987), the Blue Falcon mascot was designed and the school added its first full-time athletic director. In 1989, the first official inauguration of the college president took place.

During the 1990s, the board of trustees was opened to lay members, a statement on Catholic identity was created, the first honorary degree was awarded (1991) and Notre Dame was listed as a “Best College” by U.S. News & World Report. There also was a $1.5 million fire in the biology lab in 1999. The college’s endowment topped $10 million.

The 2000s brought the 150th anniversary of the Sisters of Notre Dame’s arrive in the diocese, rededication of the science lab after the fire, a fire in Harks Hall, renaming of Alumnae Hall to Petersen Hall, graduation of the first coed class in 2005, the first 10-year reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and construction of the new Green Road entrance to the campus.

Unfortunately, due to declining enrollment and financial difficulties, the college’s closure was announced on Feb. 29 and the last class graduated on May 4. College officials have been working with other colleges and universities to help students find a new place to continue their education and to help faculty and staff find new employment opportunities.

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