Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College embodies a spirit of student-centered academic innovation, faith and leadership to transform ourselves, our communities and our world.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College empowers students to think critically, engage in lifelong leadership and effect positive change in a spirit of service and social responsibility.
We follow in the footsteps of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin in all that we do as we work to live out our Catholic values.
- Social Justice: We believe we are called to stand for others and to strive for learning that puts faith into action.
- Spirituality: We provide opportunities for individual discovery of meaning and purpose at the intersection of faith and reason for the development and growth of the whole person.
- Sustainability: We are committed to being leaders in environmental sustainability and in implementing environmentally sustainable practices, curricula and programs. We model best-practices and educate our community, helping individuals to become responsible citizens contributing to the well-being of our campus and the health of the planet.
- Gender Equality: We believe that individuals have the same rights, privileges, opportunities and responsibilities to participate as productive citizens in society regardless of gender or gender identity as we embrace our legacy as a historic Women’s College.
Identity and Legacy of SMWC
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Indiana’s oldest Catholic college, was founded in 1840 by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and five other Sisters of Providence who journeyed from Ruille-sur-Loir, France, to the wilderness of Indiana to establish an academy for women. In 1846, the College was granted the first charter for the higher education of women in the state of Indiana. In 1928, the Academy was incorporated as Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Through the years, SMWC has helped shape the fabric of both women’s education and early Catholic education in America. During a period of limited opportunities for women and widespread discrimination against Catholics, The Woods’ founding was precipitated by a commitment to helping students Aspire Higher.
In 1973, the College was the second in the nation to establish a distance education program with the launch of the Women’s External Degree Program. Ten years later, coeducational master’s degree programs were added. In 2005, the College expanded access to its undergraduate distance program to men. Today, students earn degrees in a wide variety of majors through the Woods Online program. In 2015, the mission was expanded further to be inclusive of men in all programs, while maintaining a strong commitment to embrace its rich history as a women’s college. In 2021, the College’s academic footprint will widen yet again with the launch of its first doctoral program.
Before women fought for equal pay, before women secured the right to vote, before the women’s rights movement even began, there was Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. For generations, The Woods has been empowering students to make a difference in their lives and in their world, and it all started with a holy woman’s faith in Divine Providence.
The Sisters of Providence have been the sponsoring order of the College from its inception.
The Latin, “Virtus cum Scientia,” translated as “Virtue with Knowledge United,” appears on the SMWC seal and coat of arms. Chosen by SMWC foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, this motto embodies this liberal arts institution’s faithfulness to Catholic values and excellence in academics.
As a matter of institutional priority, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College strives to be an inclusive environment in which faculty members, staff, students and the greater community are respected and embraced regardless of variations in thoughts, experiences, values and traditions. As an academic institution, we foster a dynamic learning and working environment that encourages multiple perspectives and the free exchange of ideas. Founded as a Roman Catholic institution and able to draw on the Greek root of the word catholic meaning “universal,” we cultivate this heritage to develop a strong, respectful and trusting environment for students, faculty and staff. Recognizing the sacredness of humanity, we revere the beauty in all gifts and talents.
We believe that diversity, as a multifaceted and a naturally valuable asset, aims to broaden and deepen both the educational experience and the scholarly environment, as students and faculty learn to interact effectively with each other, preparing them to engage as active citizens in an increasingly complex, multicultural and pluralistic society. We believe that diversity encompasses the awareness and celebration of the many identities that make up our community including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, religious or spiritual affinity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic class, age, cultural background, language, differing abilities and region of origin. We acknowledge, respect and celebrate our differences.
In a world where the pursuit of safety and well-being are central, we foster a commitment to social justice and confrontation of discrimination and ultimately uphold human dignity for all. We intentionally work toward understanding, respecting and appreciating diversity by increasing our awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions. In doing so, we move beyond tolerance to understanding, accepting and celebrating our differences.
We aspire to create respect for and appreciation of all persons as key characteristics of our campus community and beliefs, to increase the diversity of all parts of our College community through commitment to diversity in our recruitment and retention efforts and to foster a spirit of openness to active engagement among all members of our campus community. Our commitment to these principles is an integral part of our mission, values and daily activities.