The largest incoming class in the history of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College occurred this year! The total enrollment broke the all-time College record for the campus program! These are statements that are true for us in 2021 and were also true in 1965 and 1966, respectively. I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the momentum that has been created and is growing at SMWC in recent years; I am also mindful of the lessons from our own history.
The excitement that accompanied the opening of Les Bois (French for The Woods and pronounced “lay bwa”), our new residence hall, and Barbara Doherty Dining Center were heightened by welcoming the largest class in the school’s history this year.
My heart is filled with a deep gratitude to God and to all of those who have worked so diligently to make this happen. At the same time, however, I am mindful that the upward trend in enrollment which has blessed the College from its beginning through 1966 had not been attained again until very recent years. The diligent efforts and prayers of those who came before us are part of our successes today.
I recently read the annual report of the College from the 1982-83 academic year. It celebrated the accomplishments of Jeanne Knoerle, SP, ’49, Ph.D., as she ended her long reign as president. She states, “We had two crisis points in the 70’s when we almost had to call it quits.” She goes on to explain that the creation of the Women’s External Degree Program and the English Language Institute allowed the College to remain open. New revenue streams kept the College open and now we have a new record number of students in the traditional campus program.
Adding to my enthusiasm is the growth among all of our programs: the campus program broke the all-time record, Woods Online is enrolling more students than in recent history and graduate programs are strong, being joined this fall by the first doctoral program in the history of the College.
The new numbers are certainly worth celebrating. They represent a large group of students, who along with generations of Woodsies, will benefit from a world-class Woods education – set on a path to go out and make change in the world. They will be equipped with the blessings of “Virtus cum Scientia” or virtue with knowledge united. We are reminded by Barbara Doherty, SP, ’53, Ph.D., that we know how to blend virtue and knowledge and that “this marvelous combination of personal strength and knowledge undergirds our success.”
The experience of all Woods students is uniquely a reflection of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the multitude of Sisters of Providence who followed her footsteps as educators and mentors.
My message to you is one of joy, gratitude and intentionality. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is an exceptional institution that has weathered many seasons and changes. Together, we must be determined to remain strategically innovative so that we ensure future generations will continue to be blessed with a remarkable education in this sacred place. This is my prayer!