Heritage + History More than 150 years ago, in the Canadian province of Quebec, a woman named Esther Blondin, struggled to fulfill a longtime dream "...to empower people – especially the poor illiterate children of the Quebec countryside by teaching them religion, reading, writing, and arithmetic." With great passion and audacity, Esther Blondin, now called Mother Marie Anne, pursued this vision, turning it into the exceptional teaching mission of the congregation she founded – the Sisters of Saint Anne.
Inspired by Mother Marie Anne, the Sisters of Saint Anne founded Anna Maria College in 1946 to provide a quality education to those less fortunate. Their goal at the time was "...to make higher education available to women of modest means." In 1952, the College was moved to its current location in Paxton, MA. Today, Anna Maria College is dedicated to providing a quality, affordable education to both men and women pursuing their dreams of a higher education.
Anna Maria College Through the Years 1940s: Planting the Seed
In 1945, with the approbation of Archbishop Richard J. Cushing, the Sisters of Saint Anne, led by Sister Marie Anne Eva Mondor, petitioned the Board of Collegiate Authority of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to amend their 1887 Charter, which allowed them to operate elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth, so that they could grant advanced degrees. Under the guidance of the Secretary General of Catholic University of America, all the necessary requirements were met and Anna Maria College opened its doors on September 17, 1946, to its first freshmen class of dynamic and talented women.
1950s + 1960s: Establishing Roots The fifties became a decade of rapid expansion for Anna Maria College starting with its move to the then 293-acre campus in Paxton, Massachusetts in 1951. From 1953 to 1959, five new buildings were completed and in 1955 the College became accredited by The New England Association of Schools and Colleges. A teacher training program joined the already robust music program and AMC became recognized by several National Honor Societies. Sister Irene Socquet continued to be at the helm as the College entered the 1960s. Campus growth continued, and with the Class of 1964, Anna Maria College reached a milestone by graduating more than one hundred young women. Not immune to the upheavals of this period, an Ad Hoc committee was set up in 1967 to address academic freedom and student governance with AMC counted among the first to endorse the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students.
1970s + 1980s: Growth Years The early 1970s at Anna Maria were no different than at any other college campus with students participating in programs and rallies to express their views regarding the nation's military involvements. This time was marked by the physical expansion of the College and the expansion of the curriculum and the co-curricular programs. The most dramatic change to occur in the 1970s was the move to coeducation in 1973 followed a year later by the opening of the graduate division.
The 1980s began with a major change in the corporate structure of Anna Maria College when the Sisters of Saint Anne relinquished to the College its existing charter and degree-granting authority. On April 13, 1980, a newly formed Board of Trustees met with the incumbent Board and the independent corporation was begun. The campus continued to expand with the construction of the Mondor-Eagen Library and the Fuller Activities Center. The College also celebrated its 40th anniversary and continued to move forward and complete successful accreditation reviews with NEASC.
1990s + Early 2000s: Branching Out
The 1990s began with the opening of Zecco Performing Arts Center, which helped Anna Maria College celebrate both its 45th and 50th anniversaries. Beyond bricks and mortar, the College needed to address the various changes occurring in the marketplace during this decade. AMC entered into a partnership with IBM, which helped to jump start its efforts to purchase, wire and install state-of-the-art computer technology that would provide efficiencies in operations and in the classroom and keep AMC on the forefront of change.
In the early 2000s, the College hosted a re-dedication of its newly designed chapel in recognition of Sr. Bernadette Madore, AMC's fourth president and celebrated its heroes at a 60th anniversary gala. With its rich tradition and solid roots in quality Catholic education, Anna Maria College continued to see its hard work over the years come to fruition.
2007 to Today: Extending its Branches In 2007, led by visionary board members and administrators, the College developed a Strategic Plan: Excellence at Anna Maria College, which continues to guide the growth of the institution. In five short years, AMC opened up three new residence halls, enrolled a record-setting class of 494 students, launched a football team, installed an all-purpose athletic field and completed another successful NEASC review. The College's 65th anniversary was celebrated as the campus' growth and expansion continued with new academic and co-curricular programs. In 2010, the College launched its first online programs to address the changing needs of adult students.
Trinity Hall, one of the first buildings to house AMC students, was also rehabbed and reconfigured to accommodate academic advising and student support services so that the AMC community can continue to effectively touch the lives of more students with its exceptional career-oriented programs that prepare society's future leaders who understand their role in providing for the common good.
Today, Anna Maria College continues to grow structurally and programmatically, offering 32 undergraduate majors and a dozen graduate studies on-ground and online to its diverse student population of 1,500 learners. True to its heritage, the College continues to offer a highly personalized, liberal arts education that prepares students to ultimately work and serve in their chosen communities across the nation and around the world.
On the cusp of celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding, the College this semester welcomed 320 new students—an enrollment representing a nearly 45 percent increase from the year prior.
Aiming to educate the whole student, Anna Maria College now offers 13 Division III NCAA athletic programs, more than 25 student-led clubs and organization and numerous organized community service opportunities.
The College’s current board, administrators and faculty continue to move forward the traditions set by the College’s foundresses to strengthen and expand Anna Maria College. Such improvements aim to meet the evolving needs the College’s growing student population and its increasing relevance and impact in the greater Worcester community.