Original Saint Francis College building from 1890


From its earliest days as a teacher-training school to its current status as a degree-granting liberal arts institution, the University of Saint Francis has remained true to its core mission while always evolving with the times.

See USF Through the Years…


USF is founded (as Saint Francis Normal School) by the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Lafayette, Indiana.

Saint Francis Normal School and College in Lafayette, Indiana


The college’s Education program was accredited by the state of Indiana. The college was able to approve students for state licensing for teaching.


A new charter leads to expanded programs, including four-year bachelor degrees in Education, Nursing, Science, Art, and Music.

Enrollment opens to laywomen. All households in the region receive a letter from Sister M. Bernarda stating, “Now, to keep our school and get it accredited by the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges, we need a larger enrollment.”


Home, Sweet Home! The college relocates to Fort Wayne after the Sisters purchase part of the Bass estate and 65 acres for $65,000 ($918,000 in 2018 terms).

The College is formally dedicated on October 1, with Bishop John F. Noll in attendance.

Sisters at St. Francis College 1940


The first Fort Wayne Commencement is held in June. Five lay students and 11 Sisters receive degrees.


A downtown site, including an office, large classroom, lavatory and storage room, was utilized for English, philosophy, music and education classes in addition to classes held on the main campus.


Trinity Hall opens after construction was delayed five years due to war time complications.


Sister M. Evodine becomes the first resident president of the college.


The first male students register (as part-time); by 1959, the college is co-ed.


Sister Rosanna Peters becomes President, serving 12 years.


Students participating in a “school raising” of a new science hall were featured in a two-page photo in The Saturday Evening Post.


Bonzel and Bonaventure Halls open

The first group of graduate students earn their master degrees.

Programs in Business Administration and Business Education are added.


The college hosts its first athletics-related Homecoming event.

The baseball and basketball teams play their first games.


New programs in the Social Services are added and the college joins the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Mid-Central Conference.


Achatz Hall of Science opens with an observatory, greenhouse, planetarium and more.

Bosco Hall opens, the first residence hall built for male students.


Sister M. JoEllen Scheetz becomes President, leading the institution for 23 years.


The college changes its mascot from the Troubadours to the Cougars.


The men’s golf team wins the college’s first NAIA championship title.

The college establishes a cooperative relationship with Saint Joseph School of Nursing.


Happy 100th Birthday!

The Hutzell Athletic Center opens.


Sister M. Elise Kriss, O.S.F., is inaugurated as President.


Sister Elise announces plans for a football program.

Coach Kevin Donley is named inaugural coach the following year.


Professor Sufi Ahmad sculpts the Saint Francis statue.


The college acquired Lutheran College of Health Professions.

University Bound! Saint Francis College Becomes the University of Saint Francis.


USF experiences an era of growth as the following facilities open to accommodate a growing student body and expanded programming:

  • 1999: Campus Ministry Center
  • 2000: Doermer Family Center for Health Science Education & the Ian and Mimi Rolland Center
  • 2004: Padua Hall
  • 2005: Classes in Crown Point begin at St. Anthony’s Medical Center
  • 2006: Bonaventure Hall expands to include the Pope John Paul II Center and the Lee and Jim Vann Library
  • 2008: North Campus
  • 2009: Clare Hall
  • 2010: Renovations of Brookside are completed
  • 2011: Crown Point opens its own facility


Plans for a USF Downtown take hold with the purchase of the historic Scottish Rite Center and Chamber of Commerce building in Fort Wayne.


The USF Performing Arts Center opens in the Scottish Rite Center, which also houses the Music Technology and Media Entrepreneurship Training in the Arts (META) programs. The Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership opens in the restored Chamber of Commerce building.


St. Elizabeth School of Nursing (Lafayette, Ind.) officials signed an education partnership agreement with USF. With the agreement, graduates receive a diploma in nursing from the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from USF.


The new St. Francis Chapel opens.


Achatz Hall of Science and Research Center is expanded and renovated.

A new Welcome Center opens on North Campus.