Saint Louis University Timeline
200 Years of Seeking Truth and Transforming Lives.
SLU becomes the first institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River when Saint Louis Academy (later known as Saint Louis College) is founded in a private residence near the Mississippi River at the request of the Rev. Louis William DuBourg, Catholic Bishop of Louisiana.
The history of SLU's College of Arts and Sciences dates back to the original Saint Louis Academy.1818
DuBourg Hall opens on July 31, the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. Though now home to SLU's administration, the building at its opening contained the whole of the University's operations, including classrooms, laboratories, a museum and library, and dormitories for both students and the Jesuit faculty.1888
The Saint Louis University School of Law admits five female students -- the first women to attend Saint Louis University.
The Billiken, Saint Louis University's mascot, is created by American art teacher and illustrator Florence Pretz. Learn more about the Billiken's unique history.1908
Inez Specking becomes the first female faculty member in Arts and Sciences.1923
Parks Air College, later to become SLU's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, is founded at Lambert Field in St. Louis by Oliver "Lafe" Parks. He gives the college to Saint Louis University in 1946. In 2022, Parks College becomes part of SLU's School of Science and Engineering. It is the oldest federally certified school of aviation west of the Mississippi River.1927
Nancy McNeir Ring becomes SLU's first dean of women. SLU's highest award for teaching has been named after her since 1966.1943
Father Claude Heithaus, S.J., delivers a sermon at College Church decrying racial prejudice in America, ultimately leading to the integration of Saint Louis University. That summer, five African-American students are admitted to SLU — two undergraduates and three graduate students — making SLU the first university in any of the 14 former slave states to establish an official policy of integration.1944
The College of Arts and Sciences becomes co-educational. While women had been allowed to attend graduate and select programs since 1908, undergraduate men and women were not allowed to register and attend classes together until this time.
Jesuits from Saint Louis University perform the religious rite that becomes the basis of "The Exorcist" book and movie.1949
Anita Lyons Bond becomes the first Black undergraduate student to graduate from Saint Louis University with honors. SLU awarded Bonds, who became a noted civil rights activist, an honorary doctorate of humanities in 2015.1950
The University's Pius XII Memorial Library, honoring His Holiness Pope Pius XII, opens. The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library is established there, becoming the first repository of its kind outside of the Vatican itself.
Saint Louis University launches the 1-8-1-8 Plan, now called the 1818 Advanced College Credit Program, offering high school students the chance to earn college credit for certain high school courses. SLU's program is the oldest dual credit program in the nation.1959
SLU becomes the first major Catholic university to give lay and clergy people combined legal responsibility for institutional policy on its board of trustees.
SLU establishes a campus in Madrid, Spain. Originally intended as a study-abroad program for U.S. college students, SLU-Madrid is now a free-standing campus of Saint Louis University where students from more than 65 countries take undergraduate and graduate courses.1967
Cecilia "Kitty" Cummings becomes SLU's first female Black undergraduate and the first sophomore to be elected Student Government Association President. In 2022, junior Aric Hamilton becomes the first Black male elected to the post.1977
SLU founds the Center for Vaccine Development. The Center has been instrumental in developing numerous vaccines that protect public health, including the FluMist nasal spray influenza vaccine and vaccines against smallpox and other potential biological weapons following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.1989
The first late-night Sunday student Mass is celebrated at St. Francis Xavier College Church. Now a SLU tradition, particularly for undergraduates, the Mass is celebrated each Sunday SLU is in session during the academic year.
Robert R. Hermann Stadium, home to SLU's men's and women's soccer teams, is christened.1990
The Joseph G. Lipic Clock Tower Plaza is added to campus, the culmination of a project that closed West Pine Boulevard between Spring and Vandeventer avenues to create a large pedestrian mall.
Saint Louis University's Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) opens. It is the world's first interfaith museum of contemporary art that engages religious and spiritual themes.1993
The Saint Louis University School of Law moves to downtown St. Louis. Located in Scott Hall, which is also home to the Saint Louis University Law Library and SLU's legal clinics, the law school is situated near the city's Civil Courts Building, criminal courts, City Hall, the U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The University opens its Center for Global Citizenship in what was once the West Pine Gym.
SLU grants the world's first Doctor of Philosophy degree in aviation.2013
In March, SLU moves classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes are back in person that September and Saint Louis University becomes a COVID-19 vaccine research site. More than 13,600 people went on to receive COVID-19 vaccinations through SLU by 2022.2020
Saint Louis University formally recognizes Juneteenth, commemorating the day in 1865 when more than a quarter-million enslaved people living in the former Confederate state of Texas learned from arriving Union troops that they were free by presidential decree.
SLU’s first dean of students and trailblazer for women’s rights at SLU Mary Bruemmer dies at the age of 101. As an undergraduate, Bruemmer was the first female editor of the student newspaper and yearbook. During her 34 years as a University administrator and 26 years as a SLU volunteer, she founded the Women's Commission and was named SLU’s first Woman of the Year.2021