History | University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana
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.


The school is accredited by the State of Indiana.


A new charter leads to expanded programs, including 4-year bachelor degrees in Education, Nursing, Science, Art, Music, and state licensing for elementary education.

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.


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


Because there’s no public transportation to campus, the Sisters establish the first downtown campus in a building on the corner of East Columbia and Lafayette Streets. They offered classes in English, philosophy, music, and education


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


Sister M. Evodine is appointed first President of the residential college.


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


Sister Rosanna Peters becomes President, serving 12 years.


The Saturday Evening Post features the College’s post-war construction in its “Face of America” column.


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 Homecoming.

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 USF’s first NAIA Championship title.

Saint Joseph School of Nursing joins Saint Francis College.


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.


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. Francis Chapel is built