Fordham, a History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003

By Thomas J. Shelley | Go to book overview

5
UNEASY NEIGHBORS
Jesuit College and Diocesan Seminary

St. John’s College: Enrollment and Pedagogy

There were 145 students at St. John’s College in 1845, the last year the college was under diocesan administration. By 1850 there were 212 students, but the numbers varied widely thereafter from year to year for reasons that are not always easy to explain. Enrollment dipped to 164 students in 1854, shot up to 203 in 1856, declined again with the outbreak of the Civil War to 152 in 1861 and sank to a low of 110 in 1862, but then almost tripled the next year to 306 students, leading the Jesuits to discuss whether to erect a new building, “since there is scarcely space now for students.” Because of the war they deferred a decision until the following year, when they engaged Patrick Keely to be the architect.1

Unfortunately the carefully recorded enrollment statistics are of limited value because they do not distinguish the college students from the high school or grammar school students until the 1880s. It is clear, however, that, as at St. Mary’s College in Kentucky, few students stayed for the full seven years of high school and college. In 1857, for example, there were 203 students at Rose Hill, but only four received the A.B. degree and another ten received the M.A. degree. This remained the norm until the early twentieth century. Only a few students who completed the undergraduate requirements remained for an additional year or two to qualify for the master’s degree. In 1857 for the first time St. John’s College awarded an A.B. degree to a graduate of New York’s other Jesuit college, the College of St. Francis Xavier.2 He was Henry Brann, later the pastor of St. Agnes Church in Manhattan. In 1867 there were 567 students at the College of St. Francis Xavier, but at graduation only ten students received the A.B. degree and seven received the M.A. degree. The following year at Rose Hill 12 students received the A.B. degree and seven received the M.A. degree. Only

1. FUA, Acta Consultorum, June 15, 1863, March 8, 1864. The statistics on enrollment are taken from the annual Catalogue of the Officers and Students of St. John’s College.

2. See Chapter 6 for a fuller treatment of the College of St. Francis Xavier.

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