Mission, History and Religious Affiliation
Admissions, Expenses and Financial Aid
The Academic Program
Student Support Services
Scholarships and Special Endowed Funds
Catalog Statement and Policies
The Founder’s Vision. Macalester
College was founded in 1874 with a commitment to making it one of the
finest colleges in the country. Its founder, the Rev. Edward Duffield
Neill, served as a chaplain in the Civil War and held positions in three
U.S. presidential administrations. Journeying to the Minnesota Territory in
1849 to do missionary work, he founded two churches and served as the
state’s first superintendent of public education and first chancellor
of the University of Minnesota.
Having shaped the education of the Northwest’s
citizens, Neill turned to the education of its leaders. He believed that
only a private college could offer both the academic quality and the values
needed to prepare for leadership. He planned a college that would be equal
in academic strength to the best colleges in the East. It would be
Presbyterian-affiliated but nonsectarian, making it inclusive by the
standards of his day.
Charles Macalester, a prominent Philadelphia
businessman and philanthropist, made the establishing gift by donating the
Winslow House, a noted summer hotel in Minneapolis. With additional funding
from the Presbyterian Church and from the new College’s trustees,
Macalester opened in 1885 with five professors, six freshmen, and 52
Defining Excellence. In
1887, a young classical scholar named James Wallace joined the faculty—and forever changed the future—of Macalester College. Over the next
50 years, as faculty member, president, fund-raiser, donor, and role model,
James Wallace helped the College define its special values and its
standards of excellence.
Wallace quickly established himself as a fine and
demanding teacher, and he earned a national reputation for scholarship when
he published two Greek textbooks that were widely used across the country.
When he took on added duties as dean of the College and then as president,
he dedicated himself to creating the strongest possible academic experience
for Macalester students. He recruited excellent faculty members and
carefully added new areas of study to the curriculum.
In spite of academic success, James Wallace’s
early years at Macalester were financially difficult. Gradually, his
unceasing efforts built up a group of donors whose support, together with
tuition from a growing student body, put the college on steady footing. By
the time he rejoined the faculty in 1906, Wallace had enabled the college
to pay off its debt, maintain a balanced budget, and begin to establish an
endowment to offer some protection against hard times.
Until shortly before his death in 1939, James Wallace
taught religion, Greek, and political science. He inspired students to set
high aspirations, strive for the best, and serve humanity on a global
basis. His interest in world affairs intensified throughout his lifetime,
and just before his 90th birthday he published a third book, this one on
international peace and justice.
Distinguishing Values. In
the 1940s and 1950s President Charles J. Turck gave new emphasis to the
College’s internationalism by recruiting foreign students, creating
overseas study opportunities, and hiring faculty from diverse backgrounds.
As a symbol of commitment to international harmony, he raised the United
Nations flag on campus in 1950, and it has flown every day since then, just
below the United States flag. Under his leadership, the College also
broadened its base of community service and intensified its continuing
interest in civic and national affairs. President Turck wrote a regular
column in the student newspaper, often discussing social justice at home
Macalester engaged in a remarkable period of
advancement throughout the 1960s. Under the leadership of President Harvey
M. Rice, the College strengthened the academic credentials of its faculty,
enhanced the academic program, and increased its visibility, attracting
students from across the nation and around the world. A major building
campaign resulted in a fine arts center and new science facilities which
were among the best in the United States. All of this was made possible by
the generous gifts of many friends, led by DeWitt and Lila Wallace,
founders of the Reader’s Digest and major benefactors of Macalester. Mr. Wallace, who
died in 1981, was the son of President James Wallace and a member of the
College’s class of 1911.
Along the way, Macalester committed itself to a
liberal arts curriculum and asserted five traditional and distinguishing
values: involvement of students with faculty in the pursuit of learning;
creation of a diverse campus community; incorporation of an international
perspective in the curriculum and campus life; involvement of the College
in the life of the metropolitan area; and espousal of service as a way of
The stories of four alumni provide evidence of the
historic nature of those values:
Catharine Deaver Lealtad became Macalester’s
first African American graduate in 1915; as a physician she spent a long
career treating children affected by poverty, war, and famine around the
Esther Torii Suzuki was admitted to Macalester in
1942, freeing her from the internment camp where her Japanese American
family was placed during World War II; she became a social worker and human
Walter Mondale, who grew up in southern Minnesota, was
part of the Class of 1950; he went on to become vice president of the
United States, a U.S. senator, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
Kofi Annan came to Macalester from Ghana; after his
1961 graduation he began a career with the United Nations culminating in
his election to the post of U.N. Secretary General and his receipt of the
2001 Nobel Peace Prize.
Unprecedented Strength. The
1990s were another period of significant advancement for Macalester. In
1991, the College’s endowment became significantly stronger than it
had been, enabling Macalester to pursue its high ideals with renewed vision
and confidence. The College increased the number of faculty positions,
adding new depth and more broadly diverse perspectives to the educational
program. The improved student-faculty ratio also made possible more
flexible and personalized teaching approaches, including significant
enhancement of an already strong emphasis on faculty-student collaborative
research and writing. The College also increased international study
opportunities for students and faculty and strengthened co-curricular
programs from athletics to residential life to community service.
Through a comprehensive campus improvement program,
virtually every academic and residential building on campus was renovated,
as were the athletic facilities. Extensive renovation of the science
facilities, which merged two buildings into the Olin-Rice Science Center,
was completed in 1997. George Draper Dayton residence hall opened in 1998,
the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center in 2001, and the renovated Kagin
Commons student services building in 2002. A comprehensive fund-raising
campaign completed in 2000 raised $55.3 million to help support some of
those building projects as well as scholarship funds, student-faculty
research stipends, academic programs, and annual operations.
The College entered the 21st century with a planning
process that reaffirmed its core values and key strengths. In Fall 2005,
President Brian C. Rosenberg issued a vision statement which calls upon
Macalester to respond to the world’s complex challenges with renewed
academic strength and with a commitment to global citizenship on the part
of the College and its graduates. Global citizenship begins with responsible and reflective local engagement that
transcends parochial concerns and regards all human beings as fellow
citizens. Macalester’s Institute for Global Citizenship, created in
2005, serves as a catalyst for strengthening programs by which students
connect academic study with off-campus applications through internships and
service-learning opportunities both in the United States and abroad, and
programs by which students explore ways to engage some of the world’s
most challenging issues through their chosen professions.
In fall 2008 Macalester publicly launched a $150
million campaign, raising funds for scholarships, faculty support, program
enhancement, operating support, and new facilities. As the campaign went
public, alumni and friends had already contributed more than $100 million.
A new athletic and wellness complex, the Leonard Center, opened in August
2008 housing programs aimed at creating a healthier and more cohesive
campus community. In 2009, construction was completed on Markim Hall, a new
home for the Institute for Global Citizenship. Plans called for the
building to qualify for Platinum certification under the Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, a building rating system
devised by the U.S. Green Building Council that evaluates the
sustainability and environmental impact of structures across the nation.
Meanwhile, the College unveiled plans to renovate and expand the
college’s fine and performing arts facilities in coming years.
With the help of financial support from its alumni and
friends, Macalester continues the traditions begun by its founders and
carried forward throughout its history: providing an education of
uncompromising academic quality to talented students from a wide range of
social and cultural backgrounds and preparing them to make a significant
and positive difference in the world.