Enrollment was 77 students when classes started on October 1, 1956, at the College's new location on Sebago Lake. At that time, much of the campus had recently been a golf course for the wealthy owner of a summer home that is now Xavier Hall. A grove of trees occupied what are now modern residence halls. Mercy Hall, the sole new building on campus, contained dorm rooms, the cafeteria, the library, the bookstore, administrative offices - and classrooms.
The school was all-female, "monks" did not refer to sports teams, the Sisters of Mercy wore long habits and "distance education" referred to the 15 miles commuter students traveled from Portland. Students could major in just eight subject areas, including Latin and Secretarial Science. Faculty and staff were primarily Sisters. Sometimes after a long day, the nuns would pile into the old Ford pickup left behind by the previous owner and drive down to the lake to relax.
Outdoor banners on the lampposts and indoor banners throughout the campus will highlight the theme of the anniversary, "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Small Steps, Great Strides."
• events honoring the 50th Anniversary will be held throughout the year:
• homecoming on Sept. 16.
• Fall premiere of film about the College's history over the last 50 years.
• 1956 day on Oct. 2 to commemorate the first day of classes held on the new campus.
• dedication Mass and campus-wide barbecue on Oct. 18 will celebrate the dedication of the campus 50 years ago.
• historical exhibits will appear in Mercy Hall and Wellehan Library; 50th year mementos will be given to 2006 graduates.
• send in your memories of Saint Joseph's. Think back to your days as a student - whether it was 50 years ago or 5 months ago - and send us your anecdotes and fond memories. We will use them throughout our anniversary year. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or Office of Alumni Relations, Attn: 50th Anniversary Committee, 278 Whites Bridge Road, Standish, Maine 04084.
Much has changed since the campus moved from Portland, where it was founded in 1912. The Sisters of Mercy who decided to expand the College to Standish took a huge risk. This year, to mark the 50th Anniversary of their profound decision, we celebrate their vision, faith and courage. And we pay tribute to how much Saint Joseph's has accomplished and to all those - presidents, faculty and staff - who nourished its growth along the way.