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 challenges students to think critically, become leaders and effect change through knowledge and virtue rooted in our Catholic foundation.
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 Equity: We believe that individuals are entitled to the same rights, privileges, opportunities and responsibilities to participate as productive citizens in society regardless of gender expression.
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 widened 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. Today, the College maintains a proud legacy as a historic women’s college.
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.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College strives to be an inclusive community in which all faculty, staff and students are valued for variations in thought, ability, experience and tradition. Founded as a Roman Catholic institution, we recognize the sacredness of humanity and are guided by this heritage to promote respect and opportunity for all.
We believe that diversity, as a multifaceted and valuable quality, broadens and deepens the educational experience. Toward this end, we encourage dialogue and engagement as citizens in an increasingly complex, multicultural and pluralistic society. Living out our commitment to social justice, we intentionally increase our awareness, knowledge and understanding of the many ways in which individuals interact within systems, institutions and daily activities. In doing so, we actively uphold human dignity.