History & Heritage
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Kieran Gatehouse, built in 1865.
Just over a century ago, the Marist Brothers came to New York's Hudson River Valley to train young men to continue the Brothers' vocation as great educators. What started as a seminary for the training of future Marist Brothers has developed into one of the leading colleges of the arts and sciences in the country.
Marist College is now home to approximately 4,100 traditional undergraduate men and women, 1,100 adult continuing education students, and another 1,000 graduate students. In 1947, the first graduating class of modern-day Marist College consisted of four Marist Brothers. Today, close to 30,000 alumni and alumnae call Marist alma mater. Marist has a proud tradition that laid the foundation for a state-of-the-art campus for students preparing to enter the work force of the 21st century.
Marist College follows in the tradition of great institutions like Harvard University and the College of William and Mary that were founded as seminaries and developed into independent academies of higher learning.
St. Ann's Hermitage, purchased
by the Marist Brothers in 1905.
Marist can trace its roots to 1905, when the Marist Brothers purchased property and a house from Thomas McPherson along the eastern shore of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, NY. The Brothers named the building and property St. Ann's Hermitage. In 1908, the Brothers purchased the Edward Bech estate to enable the Hermitage to expand. The College purchased additional property to the north and east and now consists of more than 150 acres.
1929 - 1979
In 1929, college-level courses were first offered. In 1946, the State of New York granted the institution an official, four-year charter under the leadership of founding president Brother Paul Ambrose Fontaine, FMS. The Brothers set about to construct several buildings on the grounds of what was then called Marian College: a gymnasium (now Marian Hall, a student residence) in 1947; Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel in 1953; the Brothers' residence, located on the site of the James A. Cannavino Library, in 1954; and Adrian Hall in 1957 (which was demolished in 2000).
Dr. Linus Richard Foy became president in 1958 and became, at age 28, the youngest college president in the United States. Marian College became Marist College in 1960. In that same year, the mission of the College was broadened to include the wider community. Lay male students were admitted to pursue undergraduate studies. An evening division was also introduced to serve the educational needs of the surrounding communities.
Sheahan Hall opened as the first campus residence hall in 1962. It was named for a long-time pastor of St. Peter's Church in Poughkeepsie, which was then the parish church of the Brothers and the College. It was followed in 1963 by Leo Hall, named for Brother Leo Brouilette, a former provincial of the Marist Brothers who was responsible for securing the 1929 charter for the Marist Normal Training School, the forerunner of modern-day Marist College, and Champagnat Hall, named for the founder of the Marist Brothers, Saint Marcellin Champagnat, in 1965. All three of these residence halls, which house first-year students, were recently renovated. Leonidoff Field, the College's first major athletic field, was named for benefactor Dr. Alexi Leonidoff and dedicated in 1968.
Marist Brothers build Donnelly
Hall, completed in 1962.
Donnelly Hall was built by the Brothers in 1962 and named for Brother Nilus Donnelly, who supervised construction of the 12 major campus facilities built by the Brothers. Donnelly Hall was renovated between 1989 and 1991 to house classrooms, lecture halls, a science center, the Fashion Program, the College's information technology facilities, a computer lab and administrative offices.
Women were admitted to the evening division in 1966. In 1968, women entered the day division, making the College fully coeducational. Ownership of the College was transferred in 1969 to the Marist College Educational Corporation with an independent, predominantly lay board of trustees. Nonetheless, the Marist Brothers' legacy of service and striving for excellence continues to inspire and enrich the academic life of the College.
Under President Foy's leadership in the 1970s, the College expanded programs for the educationally disadvantaged, added a computer center, instituted graduate programs in business administration and community psychology, and completed the James J. McCann Recreation Center.
In 1973, Marist began a cooperative program with area secondary schools in which selected high school seniors take first-year college courses through Marist and "bridge" into college. The following year, the College expanded its commitment to continuing education by increasing course offerings in the evening division and summer session.
The Brothers work on Our Lady
Seat of Wisdom Chapel, completed in 1953.
1979 - 1994
With the naming of Dr. Dennis J. Murray in 1979 to the presidency, Marist College entered the 1980s as a vital coeducational liberal arts institution holding fast to the timeless values of its rich heritage while embracing advanced technology in the service of education. Another period of significant growth and development began and continues to this day.
To accommodate its rapidly growing student population, Marist built its first set of townhouses for upper-class students in 1982 and named them in honor of President Foy in 2003. Also in 1982, the former gymnasium was renovated to create a new residence called Marian Hall. Gartland Commons, a garden apartment complex for upper-class students overlooking the Hudson River at the north end of campus, was named for life trustee and benefactor John J. Gartland, Jr., and completed in 1985.
In 1984, Marist received $2.5 million in equipment and almost $2 million in software from the IBM Corporation to expand academic and administrative uses of computers on campus. Marist and IBM initiated a joint study in 1988 that has placed Marist among the most technologically advanced liberal arts colleges in the country. The study has given IBM an opportunity to test concepts and applications that IBM believes will be of value in business, education, and other fields. The joint study enabled Marist to put advanced computer and telecommunications technology to work in support of instructional, research, and administrative goals. Marist students actively take part in these research projects, giving them work experience and preparing them for the high-tech work force upon their graduation from Marist.
The Lowell Thomas Communications Center opened in 1987, allowing students to combine the disciplines of communications, math, and computer science in a state-of-the-art environment. The center is named for the legendary broadcast pioneer and explorer and Dutchess County neighbor who received an honorary doctorate from Marist in 1981. Displays of artifacts from the life and times of Lowell Thomas are on display, including rare photographs and mementos of a trip to Tibet made by Lowell Thomas and his son, Lowell, Jr., in 1949.
The opening of the Margaret M. and Charles H. Dyson Center in 1990 provided a home for the School of Management and the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, as well as the School of Global and Professional Programs and Graduate & Adult Enrollment.
In 1994, construction was completed on a $27 million project to create a new Student Center with an expansive bookstore, new dining facilities, and a Cabaret. The building also houses a dramatic rotunda and the Admissions Office. A mid-rise residence hall housing 382 students in suites, and new offices for Student Affairs and Student Government, were also included in the project. A new set of townhouses for 144 students opened that same year.
Greystone, built in 1858.
1995 to Present
In 1995, the campus theatre in the Student Center was renovated through the generosity of Frank Fusco and was renamed the Nelly Goletti Theatre in memory of Mr. Fusco's late wife, a noted performer in the United States and Europe. The campus green adjacent to the Student Center was also completed in 1995 and presents a magnificent venue for outdoor performances and other student activities overlooking the Hudson River. It is also the site of Commencement ceremonies each May and was the setting for the opening ceremonies of the 2005 Empire State Games.
The McCann Center was expanded and renovated in 1997, adding 20,000 square feet to the existing center to accommodate the growing Marist student population and interest in recreational, intramural, and intercollegiate athletics. The addition includes a multi-purpose gym, cardiovascular center, weight training facility, and locker rooms. A new office complex in the original structure houses team coaches, a conference room, and the sports information department. A Plaza of Champions graces the entrance to the McCann Center, which is also the home to the country's first online athletics Hall of Fame.
Two new sets of townhouses for nearly 500 upper-class students opened in 1997 and 2000 on West Cedar Street, a short walk from the Marist campus. Another new townhouse complex on Fulton Street opened in fall 2005, with each townhouse offering individual bedrooms for 250 students. The College also operates Talmadge Court, housing 37 students in apartments near the main campus.
In 2000, the 83,000-square-foot James A. Cannavino Library opened to national acclaim for its classic design and high-tech infrastructure. The library has more ports-per-student than any other academic library in the country, houses the College's archival collections and a multimedia presentation room, and hosts several student academic services offices, including the Center for Career Services, the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), the Office of International Education, and the Writing Center.
The College's newest academic facility, Fontaine Hall, replaced a building of the same name that had been located on the site of the Cannavino Library. Named for the founding president of modern-day Marist College, Fontaine Hall houses multimedia classrooms, a black box theatre, a conference room overlooking the Hudson River, the School of Liberal Arts, the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, and the Office of College Advancement, including the offices of Alumni Relations and Public Affairs. Historic photographs documenting the life of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt are displayed on the first floor of Fontaine Hall, reminding the Marist community and visitors of the close affiliation between the College and the FDR Presidential Library in neighboring Hyde Park.
Longview Park, a 12-acre parcel along the banks of the Hudson, will open to the general public in the fall of 2006. The park, which also houses two boathouses, was the site of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta, the national championships of rowing, from the late 19th century until 1949. The site, the home of the champion Marist men's and women's crew teams, still hosts intercollegiate and interscholastic crew meets and provides visitors with scenic vistas of the historic Hudson River Valley that have inspired presidents, painters, and poets.
Over the past century, Marist College has transformed itself from a training ground for future Marist Brothers to a nationally ranked academy preparing leaders in business, industry, professions, and community and public service. A new chapter in the history of the College was announced in 2006 - a master plan for the development of the campus. Marist has retained the services of the noted architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with the goal of taking advantage of the College's picturesque location on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, further transforming the campus into one of the most scenic institutions of higher education in America.
The East Campus Tennis Pavilion opened in 2006 and features eight lighted, regulation-sized courts, a center walkway, and a pergola-covered spectator area. Marist joins the United State Military Academy and the United States Tennis Center in Queens, New York, host site of the U.S. Open, as the only tennis venues in the area that can boast a Deco II playing surface.
The College's Longview Park was completed in 2007 with a bike/walk path along the Hudson's shore, a fishing pier, the renovation of the historic Cornell boathouse, and better access to scenic vistas, particularly from the gazebo built on a promontory in the center of the park.
Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field, named for Marist Trustee Tim Tenney, whose leadership gift led to the construction of the facility, opened in October 2007, featuring a new grandstand with a large media facility and reception area, concession stand, rest rooms and team rooms, plus state-of-the-art field turf, a new scoreboard, and amphitheater-style seating on the west side of the field for lawn chairs and blankets.
New student townhouses opened in 2008 as a result of the demolition of two smaller residence halls, Benoit and Gregory. In their place will rise the Hancock Center, named for Marist Trustee Ellen Hancock, who provided the lead gift for the facility. Roadways will be reconfigured and new green spaces will be created.