Category Archives: Institutional Advancement

Ursuline College takes first steps to rebuild campus


Ursuline College has taken the first steps to transforming the campus with a ceremonial demolition Tuesday (March 25) morning. The symbolic demonstration ushers in the beginning of the College’s largest construction project in over 40 years.

The College recently reached a $5.3 million settlement with the College’s insurance provider after the O’Brien Athletic Center was destroyed by a tornado that struck the campus last July. A new $10 million facility constructed to accommodate the needs of Ursuline’s 1,500 students and College community will replace the original athletic center, constructed as a recreational facility for a then student population of 400.

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Ursuline College reaches settlement with insurance company after tornado, launches largest project in over 40 Years


Ursuline College has reached a $5.3 million settlement with the College’s insurance provider after the O’Brien Athletic Center was destroyed by a tornado that struck the campus last July. A new $10 million facility constructed to accommodate the needs of Ursuline’s 1,500 students and College community will replace the original athletic center, constructed as a recreational facility for a then student population of 400.

The new facility will host Ursuline’s 11 athletic programs, which had been accepted to NCAA Division II two weeks before the tornado. To supplement the cost of the new athletic center, a campaign to raise an additional $5 million is underway.

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Ursuline Kicks off Rebuilding Campaign with $1 Million Gift

Ursuline College recently received a gift of $1 million dollars from an anonymous donor for the College’s athletic center rebuilding fund. The fund was set up after an EF1 tornado struck the campus on July 20, which caused the collapse of the west wall of the athletic center, the uprooting of 167 trees, along with roof, window and water damage to other campus facilities.Since that time, Ursuline has been working with the College’s insurance provider to determine a settlement for the athletic center. In addition to the amount the College will receive from the insurance company, efforts are underway to raise $5 million to build a new athletic facility suitable for the College’s new NCAA Division II status.

“We are grateful for this generous donation that will make a significant impact on the future of Ursuline College,” said Sister Diana Stano, Ursuline College President. “This has been a challenging year for the College, especially for our student athletes. I hope this gift will be the catalyst for additional support from generous donors.”

Currently, modular units on Ursuline’s campus house athletic offices, locker rooms and training facilities. Without the use of a gym on campus, student athletes spend an average of 14 hours a week traveling off campus for practice and competition. For that reason, the College established an aggressive timeline for fundraising and plans to break ground for the new athletic center in spring 2014.

“The schedule was really tough and took a toll on all of us,” Maureen Kelly, a Senior Volleyball player, said. “We did not get back until about eight o’clock at night after practices. Then there was school work.”The College has formed a committee consisting of area business leaders and Ursuline alumnae to spearhead the fundraising efforts. For more information or to contribute to the rebuilding fund, visit


Visionaries, Leaders, Builders: Sr. Mary Gonzaga Haessly, O.S.U

From the time of Mother Mary of the Annunciation Beaumont until the election of Mother Annunciata Witz in 1966, the General Superior of the Ursulines of Cleveland served as ex officio  president of Ursuline College.  As the size of the Ursuline Community grew and as leading a college became more complex, the superiors began to name as Ursuline sister the Dean of the College.  The daily running of the College fell to the Dean who consulted regularly with the general superior. In 1932 Sister Gonzaga Haessly was named Dean and served in that capacity for the next 34 years!

Born in 1878, Mary Haessly was educated by the Ursulines at St. Patrick’s Grade School and later at Ursuline Academy, which at that time was located at 55th Street and Scovill Avenue. She entered the Ursuline Community in 1898 at the age of 20.  Her first assignments involved teaching and administrating Ursuline grade schools and was then assigned to Ursuline Academy of the Sacred Heart where she also taught and served as principal.

Her field of study was classical languages (Lain and Greek).  In 1921, she earned her master’s in this field from the Catholic University of America, and ten years later she completed her studies for her doctorate at the same university.

All of her years as Dean were served on the Cedar Hill Campus of Ursuline College.  In her first year she saw to the accreditation of Ursuline by The National Catholic Education Association and the Association of American Colleges.  This involved increasing the number of books in the library and of ensuring that the curriculum was in line with the College’s mission.  Early on she manifested the Ursuline chrism of motherliness as she decreased tuition from $125 per semester to $100 during the difficult years of the Depression.  In 1945 she broke a long lasting tradition of not allowing married women to attend a Catholic college.  A certain Patricia McCarty married a Navy man home on leave and requested of Sister Gonzaga that she be allowed to continue her education.  She was the first, but by no means the last woman, to graduate from Ursuline as a married woman.

As enrollment at the College continue to grow, more room was needed, and the Sisters purchased the Sherwin property adjacent to the college buildings which was remodeled into a student dorm and named it Amadeus Hall. The first floor of the two story building behind Amadeus Hall became the art department and, as enrollment continued to increase, the second floor of this building, named Brescia Hall, was converted to dormitory space.

During her many years as Dean, Sister Gonzaga developed an excellent faculty of Ursulines, many who went on the serve the college for over 30 years.  They included: Sr. Killian (art), Sr. Celine (music), Sr. Genevieve (math), Sr. Felicia (science), Sr. Michael Francis (English), Sr. Miriam (sociology and social work), Sr. Stanislaus (Latin), Sr. Annunciata (education), Sr. Ann Gertrude (chemistry), Sr. Margaret Mary , later Sr. Catharine Gilbride (history). Sr. James Therese, later Sr. Ann Kelley (philosophy) and Sr. Rose Angela (education).  She also hired Mary Pat Daley who was a long time drama teacher and made Ursuline renowned for its dramatic productions.  Monsignor Joseph Mullen, even after having been named rector of the diocesan seminary, continued teaching psychology.  Sister Gonzaga also brought on board as faculty members Father William Bachman (religion and sociology), Rev. Michael Murphy (ethics) and Rev. Joseph Spitzig (religion).

As Sister brought on board a well-prepared and enthusiastic faculty, new clubs and activities were created. The Quill (a student literary magazine and newsletter) was resurrected  as was the first yearbook since 1931, The Overlook, was published in 1948 with Carolyn McKalen serving as its editor.  Students participated in local, state and national contests in music, debate, writing and science.  The campus was alive with student life.  Other firsts in the Sister Gonzaga years was the Saint Catherine of Alexandria medal, Founder’s Day (1947), Dean’s List  (1948), an accelerated college program during the war years to allow students to graduate in three years; a BSN program in 1939 which allowed registered nurses to earn a BSN degree after completing 68 credits  of liberal arts courses; summer school and the Ursula Lauris Award (1958).

It was clear that soon Ursuline College would out grow its present facilities and so Mother Marie Sands, the General Superior of the Ursulines in 1949, purchased 62.5 acres of land in Pepper Pike. This land was adjacent to the 50 acres that Mother Mercedes had purchased in 1928.  Mother Marie had a vision of moving the Motherhouse located at Villa Angela and Ursuline College to this new location.  She met with the Ursuline Alumnae Association and asked them to begin raising funds for new college buildings.  Mother Marie brought Jim Conway on as a development director to raise capital funds for both the motherhouse and the college.  She selected an advisory board for the college chaired by Ralph Besse.

On March 25, 1965 ground was broken for the first college buildings: The Mullen Academic Building, The Dauby Science Center, Grace Residence Hall and the Fritzche Student Center.

In May of 1966 Sister Gonzaga presided over the last Cedar Hill Campus graduation.  Two major changes in office occurred at this time.  Sr. Annunciata Witz was elected general superior and she named Sr. Rose Angela Johnson as the college president.  Sister Gonzaga asked to be relieved of her duties and Sister James Therese (Sr. Ann Kelly) was named Academic Dean.  After 34 years at the helm of the college, Sister Gonzaga retired to the motherhouse.  She died in May of 1969.

In many ways, Sister Gonzaga could be called the “Second Founder” of Ursuline College since the College was advanced in many areas during her over three decades of leadership.

Patrick Riley, D.Min is the Director of Development at Ursuline College.

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Visionaries, Leaders and Builders: Mother Mary of the Annunciation Beaumont, O.S.U.

Mother Mary of the Annunciation Beaumont is the “founder” we celebrate each year on Founder’s Day. Mary Beaumont was born in Wales in 1818 and later moved with her family to Lancashire in England. Lancashire was a center for Catholic recusants, those who remained Catholic in England after Catholicism was banned after the English Reformation. They lived their Catholicism in a rather secret fashion, celebrating Mass whenever a priest could sneak past the “priest hunters.”

Since Catholic schools were banned in England, many Catholics sent their sons and daughters to Catholic schools on the Continent. When Mary was 14, she was sent to the Ursuline school at Bologne-sur-Mer in France. The Ursulines already had an excellent reputation for the education of young women and central to their educational model was their “motherliness.”

Mary Beaumont very much enjoyed her years with the Ursulines, and while she returned home to England once her education was completed, a few years later at age 25 she decided to return to Boulonge-sur-Mer to enter the Ursuline Congregation.

Father Amadeus Rappe was chaplain to the Ursuline Sisters for the years that Mary Beaumont was a student and Mary had great respect and admiration for him. Responding to the call for missionary priests in Ohio, Father Rappe left the Ursulines in 1840 and ministered to the Catholics in the Toledo area for a number of years until in 1847 he was made bishop of Cleveland (which at the time included the whole north half of the state of Ohio—the western reserve). One of his major concerns was Catholic education and so he immediately begged the Ursulines to send him some sisters to start a school. A number of issues prevented the Ursulines from coming, but in 1850 four Ursuline Sisters volunteered to leave home and travel to Cleveland to open the first Catholic school in Bishop Rappe’s new diocese.

At the age of 32, Mother Mary of the Annunciation Beaumont was named superior of this new venture. Along with the four sisters, a lay woman named Arabella Seymour, who had conducted a school of her own, joined the group. Leaving Boulogne-sur-Mer on July 16, 1850, they, were accompanied by Bishop Rappe and a few priests and seminarians that the bishop had “collected” on his journey to France. The ship landed in New York harbor on August 6 and two days later the nuns were in Cleveland at the house that had been purchased for them on Euclid Ave, just east of Public Square.

Under the leadership of Mother Mary Beaumont, the sisters set to work preparing the convent and the school. They advertised that they would be opening a school for girls on September 6, less than a month after their arrival! On the opening day of school, with everything prepared, 300 girls of varying ages showed up. The school was an instant success and the Ursuline “motherliness” endeared the sisters to the girls and their parents.

In 1854, Mother Mary of the Annunciation, having seen governments confiscate church property in France, sought to incorporate her school. She did incorporate “The Ursuline Academy of Cleveland” with the state of Ohio. It was only the second corporation in Cleveland.

An example of the motherliness of the Ursulines was their concern for the students who were coming all the way from the west side in all kinds of weather to attend the Academy. The Ursulines’ rule made them contemplatives which meant that they could not leave their monastery. In France and in Cleveland, the sisters remained in the monastery and the students came to them. Reflecting on Saint Angela Merici’s counsel to adapt to the needs of the time, Mother Mary of the Annunciation and the other sisters decided in 1853 to respond to the call of Saint Patrick’s parish on the near west side for a school. Each morning three sisters would get into a coach with all the curtains drawn to go to the west side to teach young girls and return each evening to their convent. Other parishes continued to beg the Ursulines to open a school in their parishes and they did. In 1858 the sisters began schools at Saint Mary’s and Saint Bridget’s, and in 1860 they expanded again to Immaculate Conception and Saint Malachi’s parishes.

Mother Mary Beaumont was a woman of great energy and vision, but her life was not without sorrow and the pain of loss. In 1861 two young novices died and that same year Mother St. Charles, who was one of the four Ursuline to come from France, died at the age of 41. Two other founding sisters: Mother des Seraphines and Mother St. Benoit returned to France. That left Mother Mary Beaumont and Mother St. Austin, the former Arabella Seymour, as the only two surviving pioneers.

Recognizing the need for higher education for Catholic women, Mother made a rather bold request of the State of Ohio and sought a charter to open a women’s college in Cleveland. She fulfilled all the necessary requirements, and on November 17, 1871, Ursuline College became the first college for women in Ohio and among the very first Catholic colleges for women in the United States. It was located in the same building at Ursuline Academy and focused on a liberal arts education.

By 1878 the original Euclid Avenue building was too small to encompass Ursuline Academy, Ursuline College and the growing number of sisters. By 1875 the community had grown to 86 members. Mother Mary Beaumont and her advisors found a new property in Nottingham along Lake Erie. They bought the property and immediately went to work on a building that would serve as a high school, as a branch of Ursuline College (1879-1896), allow for boarding students and house some of the growing number of sisters. It was called the Ursuline Academy of Villa Angela. It opened its doors in September of 1878.
In 1880 Mother Mary Beaumont fell ill and suffered for a number of months. She went home to the Lord she had served so faithfully on March 9, 1881 at the age of 63. She left behind her a true testament to the value of the Catholic education of women. Having arrived in Cleveland with four companions and the dream to serve Bishop Rappe and the poor people of his diocese, she left this world with Ursuline sisters operating a college, a high school and a number of parish grade schools in Cleveland. Under her leadership the number of young women who became Ursuline was large enough to expand their reach to Toledo (1854), Tiffen (1863) and Youngstown (1874).

Her obituary in the March 17th issue of the Plain Dealer speaks to the esteem in which she was held:

The Ursulines of Cleveland have good cause to weep
for the loss of their dead and much loved superior,
and the many who have been educated under her
care have cause to remember her in kindness and
prayer for the lessons of virtue and example of
Christian devotion she gave them in her long
Career of usefulness and steady fidelity.

This is the woman we celebrate each year on Founder’s Day.

Patrick Riley, D.Min. is the Director of Development at Ursuline College. 

Ursuline Under-construction: A History of Building the College

construction_timelineUrsuline College is celebrating 142-years of educating women and we, the Ursuline community, have much to be grateful for despite what mother nature delivered campus this past July. Let’s take a look back at our legacy from the beginning.

The College was founded in downtown Cleveland, Ohio near East 6th and Euclid Avenue in 1871. Now in at its fifth location, Lander Road in Pepper Pike, the College has grown in community and space as well as changed scenery from an urban to suburban landscape.

A portion of the property for the Pepper Pike campus was purchased in 1929 while additional land was bought in 1949.  The College has approxiamtely 78 acres and adjoins property owned by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland.

Many of the early buildings, including The Mullen Academic Building, the Fritzsche Center, the Dauby Science Center and Grace Hall, were designed by local architect, Peter Van Dyke. Several other buildings were built over time including Murphy Hall, Wasmer Gallery Besse Library, Pilla Student Learning Center and Smith Hall. The serenity of the campus is reflected in the architecture of the buildings and the beautiful lake that shines in the middle of the campus.

The O’Brien Athletic Center was completed in 1974 and it included a recreational gymnasium and swimming pool, classrooms, locker room and a lounge. When the College started an athletic program in 2000, a training room and another locker room were added along with the renovation of space for a fitness center and offices for coaches.

Ursuline entered a new athletic era as a member of NCAA Division II in July 2013 – a status the College held for six days until a tornado swept through campus July 20. Thankfully there was no human injury or loss of life. The gymnasium was the storm’s victim, as it collapsed the entire West wall of the building and tore off much of the roof.  There was also significant damage to the fitness center, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, and the swimming pool and the pool roof.

Undaunted, the College continues to move forward. Athletes arrived on campus in mid-August and the entire student body arrived shortly after to begin the Fall 2013 semester. Upon returning to campus, students were able to eat in the newly renovated Pilla Dining Center.

The months of August and September have been remarkably upbeat in the midst of very unusual conditions. Temporarily scattered in many gymnasiums and work out facilities in the area, coaches and athletes are excited for the future as their dreams of a brand new athletic facility begin to take shape. The future looks bright for Ursuline College and its athletic program.

There is much work to be done. Once the settlement is known from the insurance company, the College will decide what to build and how much money must be raised.

For more information, please keep up with the blog. To find out how to help or to donate to the Ursuline College Rebuilding Fund, visit

Kevin Gladstone is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Ursuline College.