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University Mission and History
Founded in 1901 at St. Clara College in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, home of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, the university began as a women's college under the fundamental values that continue to guide the university today—rigorous education, encouraging diversity of thought, a commitment to social justice, and close mentoring of students to enable them to make a positive difference in the world.
The school became known as Rosary College upon moving to River Forest, Illinois, in 1922 and rapidly grew its enrollment and programs over the next decades, including adding graduate programs and becoming co-educational. To reflect its stature as a respected, comprehensive and modern university, the school was re-named Dominican University in 1997, reflecting its Catholic Dominican heritage.
Dominican is now viewed as a premier Catholic university and repeatedly is named among the top master's-level universities in the Midwest for academic excellence and its continuing commitment to social justice. While maintaining its core Catholic identity, the university enrolls and mentors students of all faith backgrounds. Living out the ideals of our founding sisters and those of Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, founding father of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, the university is committed to giving compassionate service and to participating in the creation of a more just and humane world.
As an early partner of the Interfaith Youth Core, new ministry initiatives have focused on promoting interfaith learning and understanding with a particular strength in building interfaith cooperation through dialogue and service.
Dominican University aspires to be a premier, Catholic, comprehensive, teaching university with an enrollment of 4,000 students.
As a Sinsinawa Dominican-sponsored institution, Dominican University prepares students to pursue truth, to give compassionate service and to participate in the creation of a more just and humane world.
Dominican University is a distinctively relationship-centered educational community rooted in the liberal arts and sciences. It is known for its rigorous and engaging academic programs, the care and respect with which it mentors students, its enduring commitment to social justice; and the enriching diversity of its students, faculty and staff. Integral to Dominican’s success and distinction is the ongoing exploration, clear expression and shared experience of its Catholic Dominican identity.
Dominican University was founded as St. Clara College in Sinsinawa, WI in 1901 by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary. In 1922, under the leadership of Mother Samuel Coughlin, the sisters relocated the institution to its current location in River Forest, IL, where it was renamed Rosary College. The new college began immediately instituting new programs and improving its curriculum, establishing one of the first study abroad programs in the country in 1925 and offering courses in library science leading to the university's first master's degree in 1949. Recognizing its responsibility to all students, Rosary College became coeducational in 1970. In May 1997, in the context of an aggressive strategic plan, the school name changed to Dominican University, communicating the increasingly comprehensive nature of the university's programs and, at the same time, its continued commitment to its Catholic Dominican mission.
November 4, 2006 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP, founder of the community of Dominican sisters of Sinsinawa, WI and of St. Clara Academy, the school that grew into Dominican University. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, we prepared a brief history of our community’s first leader.
Dominican University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association as a baccalaureate and master’s degree granting institution. The Master of Library and Information Science program is accredited by the American Library Association. The accounting and business administration programs in the School of Business are accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs. The Graduate School of Social Work is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education. The university is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Department of Registration and Education, and the State Approving Agency for Veterans Affairs. The program in nutrition and dietetics has development accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education.