In 1957, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC), the religious order founded by Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, secures the charter for Cabrini College. Led by the College’s first president, Sister Ursula Infante, MSC, Cabrini is the first and only institution of higher learning founded by the order.
The College adopts Saint Frances Cabrini’s philosophy of providing students with an “education of the heart,” integrating intellectual competence with moral and social responsibility. In the fall of that year, 43 women arrive on campus as the first students of Cabrini College. Sister Ursula Infante, MSC, is founding president.
With the Woodcrest Estate Mansion serving as centerpiece of the campus, the College makes plans to expand. By 1965, Cabrini earns full accreditation from Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; and Grace Hall, Sacred Heart Hall (now Founder’s Hall), the Bruckmann Memorial Chapel, and the Holy Spirit Library are built.
In 1970, after the Board of Trustees amends the charter, the first male students enroll. A year later, the Evening Division opens, attracting non-traditional students to campus. During this decade, the College offers more major fields of study, several of which will remain among the most popular majors for decades, such as secondary education, business administration, and communications. Many student activities are implemented, including the Black Student Union, International Club, Athletic Association, and Project Outreach, which begins as a voluntary missionary experience.
As the College celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 1982, expansion continues. The Widener Campus Center opens, a new communications lab is established, and Cabrini announces plans to offer master’s degree programs. The following years see the creation of more residence halls to accommodate the growing number of students living on campus, as well as the creation of more academic majors.
The next 25 years are monumental for Cabrini, as the Dixon Center, a 64,000-square-foot athletic facility, the Hamilton Family Foundation Communications Wing, and an $18.5 million Center for Science, Education and Technology (now the Iadarola Center) are completed. The facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art amenities and technology, providing students with the resources they need to succeed in the 21st century. In 2001, Cabrini and Drexel University make history with a partnership that results in Drexel overseeing the College’s computer technology, the first such collaboration in the country between collegiate institutions.
During these years, enrollment reaches 1,000 students for the first time, and Cabrini counts more than 10,000 alumni. The College helps form the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (now the Colonial States Athletic Conference), and offers majors and programs that reflect 21st century education, including biotechnology, an online certificate program in web system design, and a master of science in organizational leadership. Also, the Wolfington Center, an office dedicated to promoting service opportunities through an enhanced understanding of Catholic Social Teaching, opens.
Throughout its history, Cabrini has been at the forefront of social justice learning among colleges and universities. Nationally, the College is among the first in higher education to implement community service into its curriculum, and is the first in Pennsylvania to require community service of all undergraduates. In 2005, Cabrini is the first college to officially sign an agreement with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to support the organization’s global outreach program. Through partnerships with CRS, the MSCs, and the municipality of Norristown, Cabrini offers students service opportunities in such places as Africa, South and Central America, and West Virginia.
In November 2008, Dr. Marie Angelella George is inaugurated as the College’s seventh president in a ceremony that includes Cardinal Justin Rigali. Dr. George promises to educate students for engaged citizenship in a global society, providing them the personal and professional skills necessary to succeed, while instilling in them a clear sense of the transformative vision for social justice.
Dr. George makes the College’s groundbreaking new core curriculum, Justice Matters, a priority of her presidency. In fall 2009, each incoming student at Cabrini is enrolled in Justice Matters. The curriculum is designed so that all Cabrini students become involved in increasingly sophisticated real-world, community-based problem solving that recognizes the needs and assets of global and local communities. Justice Matters includes a sequence of developmentally linked courses taken in the first, second and third years, with a capstone project in the student’s major in the fourth year.
Cabrini currently boasts an enrollment of 3,260, including 2,025 graduate students. Graduate Studies expands to include 15 off-site locations, reaching as far as Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania, and Cabrini has students from 20 states and from 18 countries.