Edgewood College at 90:

Looking Back, Looking Forward

By: Sarah Naughton, O.P.
'Beyond Mountains ar...
'Beyond Mountains are Mountains'
Olivia Bunz '16
Looking Beyond Tomor...
Looking Beyond Tomorrow
Armaad Jamaal Eubanks MA ’16

Sarah Naughton, O.P. was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After graduation from high school she entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary and made her religious profession as a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa in 1966. She graduated with a B.A. from Rosary College, and has earned two advanced degrees in Education and Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.

Through her career Sr. Sarah served in both classroom and administrative roles in River Forest, Illinois and Dallas, Texas. She held administrative positions with the Dominican Sisters for fourteen years. She has held several positions at Edgewood College, including chair of the Board of Trustees. She currently serves as the College Archivist.

During this Fall Semester at Edgewood College, the academic programs move ahead guided daily by the COR Program with its offerings and requirements in Cor I, Cor II and Cor III. One might say that the College motto has become ‘Heart speaks to Heart speaks to Heart.’ The colorful and complex graphic on Edgewood Engaged illustrates the connectedness of an Edgewood Education in the liberal Arts and Sciences and the Professional Programs in Education, Nursing, and Business. As I accepted this invitation to reflect on the past and the present of Edgewood College, I see three thirty year sections that have established the current mid-sized Dominican Catholic college located in Madison, Wisconsin.

The First Thirty: 1927 to 1957

From the Convent Academy of 1927 beginning the pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Teacher Education in the midst of “Roaring Twenties Madison.”

The Second Thirty: 1957 to 1987

To the Dominican Catholic Edgewood College awarding its second Honorary Degree to a Jewish Rabbi in the early 1970’s.

The Third Thirty: 1987 to 2017

To the First Cohort of Students pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership beginning their work together in the Spring Semester of 2002 as the World and the College strive to become more Diverse and Inclusive.

In these images, Sister Marie Aileen Klein poses with Helen Hayes, her former student, in 1942. Sister Marie Stephen Reges adjusts the hood on her colleague Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky in 1973. The final image of International Students in Wingra Grill shows that by the twenty-first century the Dominican Catholic values were clearly leading the Edgewood College community around the world. This educational institution was moving toward our present time of being pulled forward through a cycle of Continuously Conscious Evolutionary Development on the 55 acres named ‘Edgewood.’

In 1881 when former Governor Washburn was needing to transfer his ownership of the property, it was considered too far out in the country to attract the University of Wisconsin. The Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, preferring rural spaces for their schools, invested. By 1927, the city limits of Madison began to move west. In the early 1950’s the post-World War II annexation of the Midvale Addition created the demand for a larger Edgewood High School and a junior college for women.

In the 1940’s, Sister Nona McGreal and Sister Joan Smith were commissioned by the Sinsinawa Congregation leadership to study and develop curricula for the many Catholic schools that were opening all around the United States. Their work was a part of the National American Citizenship Program. The result was a three volume text for Catholic educators titled Guiding Growth in Christian Social Living. In 1950 Sisters Nona and Joan brought that program to Edgewood College. This text was widely used to prepare teachers for Catholic schools.

By 1965, professional opportunities for women were expanding. Well educated, well prepared and mission-oriented women and men were available and eager to join the community of Dominican Sisters at Edgewood College. As the documents published by the recently completed Second Vatican Council took root around the United States, especially those on the People of God, Religious Life and the Laity, the culture of Catholic colleges and universities began to shift.

In 1987, the Edgewood College Board of Trustees established a Presidential Search process. A Catholic layman, Dr. James Ebben, was selected from a large group of applicants to be the College’s next leader.

The selection of the renovation of the 1965-built Edgedome as his first College construction project raised concerns among some in the Edgewood College community. However, it provided the space needed for expanded athletic programs and substantially increased enrollment. In 1989 members of the Board of Trustees travelled to southeast Asia with admissions materials. Connections between Edgewood College and selected Southeast Asian schools were established. Soon the number of international students began to grow. In the years following the community began to experience steady growth of student enrollment, college programs and facilities to meet educational needs.

In 2017 the administration, faculty and staff continue the Dominican tradition of seeking to address the new Needs of Our Times with increased investments in new educational models and technology programs. A newly articulated College Vision expresses this hope: Edgewood College will be an inclusive model of learning, teaching and scholarship. Our students, alumni, faculty and staff will be recognized for their pursuit of purposeful lives, vibrant and sustainable communities and a just world.

What has changed for Edgewood College since 1927? The realities or signs or needs of the times.

What has not changed? The Dominican Catholic Mission in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2017 the Edgewood College Community, guided by the words and spirit of our vision, participates with the nineteen other American Dominican Colleges and Universities, offering the opportunity for the same learning and teaching that inspired the friars of Fanjeaux and the nuns of Prouille, France more than 800 years ago. We continue the Search for Truth, Justice, Partnership, Community and Compassion.