History of Benedictine University
Aerial view of St. Procopius College

 "Aerial view of St. Procopius College," c. 1968 

Collections & Exhibits

Visit our Digital Collections page for online collections and exhibits featuring Benedictine University's rich history.

Timeline

1887 - St. Procopius College is founded at St. Procopius Parish at 18th and Allport streets in the heart of Chicago's Slav community. The educational work began March 2, 1887 when Rev. Procopius Neuzil taught the first class to two students in two small rooms of a house in the rear of 704 Allport Street.

1890 - The college is incorporated and chartered by the state of Illinois.

1896 - The Abbey purchases the 104 acre Morris Neff farm near Lisle, Illinois.

1900 - Groundbreaking for Benedictine Hall is undertaken in Lisle. The ceremony took place on April 19 and was attended by Abbot Jaeger.

1901 - Benedictine Hall is dedicated on July 1. The dedication is presided over by Bishop Peter Muldoon of the Chicago Diocese. The school was transferred to Lisle in September. At this point the school had 6 faculty and 11 students.

1904 - The first four year high school program is offered at St. Procopius College. The first lay teacher, a piano instructor, is hired. First student clubs are formed, including the St. Procopius Athletic Association which organized intramural baseball and football.

1905 - First Field Day activities held in connection with May Day. Field day would become a beloved annual event at the college.

1908 - The first student publication, Studenske Listy (Student Life), is published. A west wing is added to Benedictine Hall.

1909 - Tuition is raised from $500 for five months to $100 per semester. The first upper level college courses are taught. They are Philosophy, French, and Spanish. In spring, the first varsity baseball games are played. The first public drama performance takes place. The performance was of the play Richelieu.

1914 - The Abbey receives permission from Rome to relocate to Lisle.

1916 - For the first time, the college's catalog is published in English rather than Czech. The south wing of Benedictine Hall is dedicated. The Abbey begins relocating to Lisle. The seminary opens with an enrollment of four seminarians who were not Abbey members.

1917 - Enrollment reaches 205 students.

1919 - Rev. Valentine Kohlbeck becomes the second Abbot of St. Procopius Abbey and thus the second president of St. Procopius College.

1921 - The first varsity football team is formed.

1925 - Construction begins on the gymnasium, the school's second building.

1926 - Construction is finished on the gymnasium and the power house. The first varsity basketball team is formed. The St. Procopius Alumni Association is formed.

1930 - Combined enrollment of the College and Academy drops to 140 students.

1934 - St. Procopius College is recognized by the state of Illinois for teacher certification.

1942 - The new 3 story science hall is dedicated on July 4. The building was designed and hand-constructed by the monks. The construction took three years to complete.

1947 - The Butler Quonset hut is erected.

1948 - Alumni Memorial Field is dedicated to alumni who died in World War II.

1950 - Enrollment is 343, including 201 college students. This was the first college enrollment of more than 200.

1951 - Students move into Jaeger Hall, the first dormitory building.

1952 - The observatory is constructed.

1954 - The Physical Sciences Laboratory is organized under the direction of Dr. Francis Shonka, former faculty member and senior physicist at Argonne National Laboratory.

1955 - Fr. Adolph Hrdlicka becomes President of the College after serving as librarian for several years.

1956 - A Lay Advisory Board of 13 members is established. The first floor of Benedictine Hall was remodeled to convert classrooms into administrative offices.

1957 - St. Procopius Academy begins operations on its new campus on the site of the former St. Joseph's Orphanage.

1958 - St. Procopius College receives accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools on March 28.

1959 - The first adult education and evening courses are conducted. The Board of Trustees, formed from the Lay Advisory Board, holds its first meeting. Father Daniel Kucera, former Dean of Studies, is appointed President of St. Procopius College.

1960 - Construction of Kohlbeck Hall, the campus' second residence hall, begins. Enrollment reaches the 500 mark for the first time.

1961 - Kohlbeck Hall is dedicated. Summer sessions are introduced for the first time.

1962 - Construction of Lownik Library begins.

1963 - The first Trustee's Dinner is held at the Drak-Oakbrook Hotel.

1964 - Lownik Library is dedicated.

1965 - Fr. Roman S. Galiardi, former Dean of Academic Affairs, is installed as President of St. Procopius College.

1966 - The first Educare Ball is held at the Cress Creek Country Club.

1967 - Seminary suspends operations. Construction begins on the Science Learning Center. Ground is broken for the new St. Procopius Abbey across College Road from the campus.

1968 - Construction of Neuzil residence Hall begins. The Benedictine Community votes for the Board of Trustees to assume control of the College. St. Procopius College becomes coeducational with the enrollment of 44 full-time women students.

1969 - Construction of a women's residence hall, Ondrak Hall, begins.

1970 - Construction of St. Procopius Abbey and Ondrak Hall is completed. Abbey members vote to accept the recommendation of the Board of Trustees to change the name of the institution to Illinois Benedictine College.

1971 - College enrollment hits 1,000 students for the first time.

1975 - Faculty consists of 50 full time lay teachers, 13 religious teachers, and a number of part time teachers.

Timeline in progress.

A Short History of Benedictine University

The narrative history linked below was compiled and edited by the Communications Office and published by the Development Office in June 1975.

Chronological Development of St. Procopius College/Illinois Benedictine College (PDF)

A Short History of St. Procopius Abbey

St. Procopius Abbey and Benedictine University share a long history. Learn more about the Abbey in the video below.

Archives

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