Spring Hill College

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Spring Hill College
Latin: Collegium Fons Collis
Motto In Colle Exaltatus Fons Sapientae (Latin)
Motto in English
A spring of wisdom is he who was lifted up on the hill
Established 1830
Type Private Nonprofit
Coeducational Liberal Arts
Affiliation Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Endowment US $19.1 million[1]
President Dr. Christopher Puto
Academic staff
79 full-time
Students 1,439
Undergraduates 1,257
Postgraduates 182
Location Mobile, Alabama, USA
Campus Urban - 400 acres (161.9 ha)
32 buildings 18-hole golf course
Colors Purple      and      White
Sports 19 varsity sports teams[2]
(8 men's and 11 women's)
Nickname Badgers
Mascot Badger
Affiliations AJCU
Website www.shc.edu

Spring Hill College is a private, Roman Catholic Jesuit liberal arts college in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama, United States. It was founded in 1830 by Most Rev. Michael Portier, Bishop of Mobile. It was the first Catholic college in the South, fifth oldest Catholic college in the United States, and third oldest of the 28 member Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. It is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 2010, U.S. News & World Report reported that Spring Hill College ranked 14th among the top colleges in the South offering both bachelor's and master's level degrees[3]

The Spring Hill academic calendar is divided into two semesters, a fall semester of 15 weeks beginning at the end of August and ending before Christmas, and a spring semester of 15 weeks beginning in early January and ending in early May. There are May and June mini-sessions, and summer school during June and July.


Cardinal Joseph Fesch, an early benefactor of the College.

Spring Hill College was founded by the first bishop of Mobile, Michael Portier. After purchasing a site for the College on a hill near Mobile, Bishop Portier went to France to find teachers and funds for the new college. Portier recruited two priests and four seminarians from France to staff the school. A friend of Portier, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, Archbishop of Lyons, was a major benefactor to the fledgling College, donating his philosophical and theological library and various works of art. Pauline Jaricot, founder of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, also donated within three years 38,000 francs, an enormous sum in those days . The bishop himself taught theology to the ecclesiastical students, who numbered six the first year. Upon his return he rented a hotel next to the college grounds and started the first semester on May 1, 1830, with an enrollment of thirty students, making Spring Hill the oldest institution of higher education in Alabama. On July 4 of the same year the bishop laid the cornerstone of the first permanent building. It stood on the site of the present Administration Building and opened for classes in November 1831. Spring Hill thus takes its place among the oldest colleges in the South. It is the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States.[4][5]

The original main building, built in 1831.

In 1836 the governor of Alabama, Clement C. Clay, signed a legislative act which chartered the College and gave it "full power to grant or confer such degree or degrees in the arts and sciences, or in any art or science as are usually granted or conferred by other seminaries of learning in the United States." This power was used in the following year, 1837, when four graduates received their degrees. The first two presidents of the College were called away to be bishops, one to Dubuque, Iowa (Bishop Mathias Loras), the other to Vincennes, Indiana (Bishop John Stephen Bazin), and the third, Father Mauvernay, died after a brief term of office. Bishop Portier then found it necessary to transfer the College, first to the French Fathers of Mercy, and next to the Society of Jesus and Mary, both of whom lacked teaching and administrative experience. He then persuaded the Fathers of the Lyonnais Province of the Society of Jesus to take possession of the College.[6] The new regime was inaugurated with Father Francis Gautrelet, S.J., as president in September 1847. Since that time the institution has continued under Jesuit direction.[4]

Many boys were sent to Spring Hill during the American Civil War as they neared the draft age. However, there was considerable unrest among students who wanted to be part of the war effort. The college did eventually form two military companies. Some of Spring Hill's Jesuit Fathers became chaplains for the Confederacy. A recruiter tried to conscript all forty of the Jesuit brothers at the college into the Confederate Army. However, the College President Gautrelet dispatched an urgent message to the assistant secretary of war in Richmond, who granted a temporary reprieve of the brothers' conscription.[6]

The second main building, now the Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, S.J. Administration Center, built in 1869.

During the Reconstruction era the College recruited students from among the sons of Central American and Cuban leaders. Following student complaints that Spanish was challenging the dominance of English on the campus, the Jesuits organized a Spanish–American league.[6] In 1869 a fire destroyed the main building and required the removal of students and faculty to St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Bishop John Quinlan and other benefactors assisted in rebuilding the College, which reopened at Spring Hill before the year's end. As the enrollment increased, Quinlan Hall, St. Joseph's Chapel, the Thomas Byrne Memorial Library, and Mobile Hall were erected. In 1935, the high school, which had been a unit distinct from the College since 1923, was discontinued. In the space vacated by the high school, the Jesuit House of Studies was opened in 1937, and the Scholasticate of the Sacred Heart opened on a site adjoining the College a few years later.[4]

St. Joseph Chapel, built in 1910.

After World War II, a great influx of veterans taxed the facilities of the College, requiring the erection of a number of temporary buildings on the campus. At the request of Archbishop Thomas Joseph Toolen of Mobile, the College became co-educational in 1952. African American students were accepted into all departments of the College for the first time in 1954, before desegregation was mandated by the United States government. Mrs. Fannie E. Motley was the first black graduate from the institution in 1956.[4] Spring Hill College was a leading institution in Alabama to press for racial equality, which received praise from civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who mentions Spring Hill in his 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail," citing the College as one of the first Southern schools to integrate. Spring Hill also received hostility and threats by those opposing integration as exemplified by the KKK incident at the College.[4]

On the night of January 21, 1957, a dozen or more darkened cars eased down the main avenue of the college. Several members of the KKK attempted to set up a kerosene-soaked cross outside Mobile Hall, a dormitory. The Klan made a tactical blunder, however, in visiting the campus during finals week. Most of the white, male residents were still awake, studying for exams, and several heard the hammering. Once alerted, students streamed from both ends of the building carrying whatever items were handy—golf clubs, tennis rackets, bricks, a softball bat—and put the panicked Klansmen to flight. To save face, the KKK returned the next night and succeeded in burning a cross at the gate of the College before students reacted. The following day, however, a group of students—male and female—hanged a Klansman in effigy at the College gate, with a sign reading, "KKKers ARE CHICKEN."[7]

Following Hurricane Katrina's widespread destruction along the central Gulf Coast in 2005, Spring Hill accepted 117 students, the majority of them from Loyola University in New Orleans, a brother Jesuit institution, for the remainder of the year.[8]

Student body

More than 1400 students study at Spring Hill College each year of which over 70% are from outside Alabama. Student statistics is 38% are male and 62% are female. 90% of the freshman class and 75% of the total student body live on campus. The student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and the average class size is 17. Of faculty members, 87% hold doctorates or the highest degrees in their fields. More than one-third of graduating students continue their education at graduate or professional school.


Spring Hill College academics offer undergraduate students bachelor's degrees through a variety of majors. The available departments include the Division of Business, the Communications/Arts Division, International Studies, Interdivisional Studies, Language and Literature Division, Nursing, Philosophy and Theology, Sciences Division, Social Sciences Division, Teacher Education Division, and lastly, the Pre-Professional Programs. Each of these divisions offers a variety of concentrations that students can choose majors and minors from.[9]

Spring Hill has an academic center in Bologna, Italy that accepts study abroad students from other colleges and universities as well.[citation needed]

Areas of concentration in graduate programs include Master of Business Administration, Teacher Education, Master of Liberal Arts, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Pastoral Studies, and Master of Arts in Theology. Certificate programs are offered in theology and ministry. Theological programs are offered at the main campus as well as at off–campus locations in Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; and Jackson, Mississippi. An online master's degree program for a Master of Science in Nursing is offered that combines online and offline nursing experience.[10] There is also a program for students through the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad consortium that provides study abroad programs and internships in England, France, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Mexico.[9][11]


Stewartfield and the Avenue of the Oaks

The Spring Hill College campus is located in the Spring Hill neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama. The college has remained on the same campus that Bishop Portier purchased in 1830. It has a number of structures that are on the National Register of Historic Places. They include the Sodality Chapel (built 1850); the Spring Hill College Quadrangle, comprising the Administration Building (1869), St. Joseph's Chapel (1910), and four other structures; and Stewartfield (1849).[12]

Other notable features of the campus are the Avenue of the Oaks, where graduation traditionally occurs, and an 18 hole golf course. A renovation of the historic Administration Building was completed in 2008. It was renamed "The Gregory F. Lucey, S.J. Administration Center", after Spring Hill College's 38th President.[13]

Student life

Clubs and Organizations

There are over fifty student-run clubs and organizations at Spring Hill College. There are community service clubs, ministry organizations, athletic and academic clubs.

Academic Athletic Ministry/Service Other
Alpha Sigma Nu Club (Jesuit Honor Society) Rugby Club Knights of Columbus Delta Alpha Chi
Theta Alpha Kappa Club (Honor Society of Religious Studies and Theology) Men's Volleyball Club Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary Anime Club
Sigma Tau Delta Club (English Honor Society) TAG3 Badger Book Club
Pi Sigma Alpha Club (Political Science Honor Society) Ultimate Frisbee Club SHAPe Community
Math Club Habitat for Humanity
Philosophy Club
English Club
Delta Mu Delta (Business Honor Society)
History Club
Psi Chi (Psychology Honor Society)
Phi Sigma Tau (Philosophy Honors Society)

Greek life

There are seven national Greek organizations on campus.

The Greek organizations participate in a "deferred recruitment" process, meaning that the formal recruiting activities occur at the beginning of the spring semester, as opposed to the more largely followed practice of recruitment at the beginning of the fall semester.

Intramural sports

Spring Hill College has a student-run intramural program. The following sports are offered:


Official athletics logo.

The school is part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II, and primarily competes in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, bowling (2013), cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, and track and field. Women's sports include basketball, bowling (2013), cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, competitive cheer & dance and volleyball.[2] The mascot is the badger.

The Spring Hill football team played its first game in 1900, but was disbanded in 1941.

Spring Hill College has maintained a baseball team since its first intercollegiate play in 1889.[14] Currently, the Spring Hill College baseball team plays its home games at Stan Galle Field ("The Pit"), the oldest continually used college baseball field in the country.[15] Notable baseball alumni include Blake Stein (former pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals) and Jim Hendry former general manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Spring Hill has moved its college rugby program under the athletic department to provide more resources and to help boost admissions to the school. The rugby program is fully funded, overseen by the athletic department, and provides scholarships for men and women.[16] Spring Hill rugby competes in the small college division.

The school formerly competed in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC).

On July 12, 2013, Spring Hill was accepted by the NCAA to begin its process towards joining the NCAA Division II.[17] Spring Hill will join the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference beginning in Fall 2014 becoming the first non-HBCU to join the conference.[18]

On August 11, 2014, the Gulf South Conference announced that Spring Hill would join the conference as an affiliate member competing in men's and women's soccer and women's golf. Spring Hill will compete in full schedules starting in 2014 but will not be eligible for post season play until the 2015-16 school year.[19]


Spring Hill was involved in controversy when on July 27, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald spoke at Spring Hill about life in the Soviet Union, just months before assassinating President John F. Kennedy.[20]




  • Edward Troye, a mid-19th century artist. He taught French and drawing at the college from 1849 to 1855.[26]
  • Magda B. Arnold, an American Psychologist and the first contemporary theorist to develop the appraisal theory of emotions, which moved the direction of psychology away from "feeling" theories and "behaviorist" theories and toward the cognitive approaches which dominate today. She was at the college from the early 1970s until she retired in 1975.[citation needed]
Sodality Chapel, built in 1850.
Marnie & John Burke Memorial Library
Azalea Trail Maids in front of Byrne Memorial Hall, formerly the Thomas Byrne Memorial Library.

College presidents have included Bishop Michael Portier, D.D., first bishop of Mobile, founded Spring Hill College on May 1, 1830; Bishop Mathias Loras, D.D. 1830-1832; and Bishop John Stephen Bazin, D.D. 1832-1836.

Former Alabama State Senator Ann Bedsole of Mobile is a former Spring Hill College trustee.[27]


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External links

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