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The College of Saint Mary Magdalen


The College of Saint Mary Magdalen

The College of Saint Mary Magdalen
Motto Gaudium et spes (Joy and hope)
Established 1973
Type Private
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
President Dr. George A. Harne[1]
Dean Dr. Mary Mumbach [1]
Leo Bond (Dean of Students)[1]
Chaplain Fr. Roger Boucher[2][3]
Students 68
Location Warner, NH, USA
Former names Magdalen College[4]

Coordinates: 43°18′49″N 71°50′1″W / 43.31361°N 71.83361°W / 43.31361; -71.83361 The College of Saint Mary Magdalen, in Warner, New Hampshire, is a four-year coeducational Roman Catholic liberal arts college offering a curriculum based on the classic texts of Western civilization. The college is one of 28[5] colleges in the United States to be listed in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.[6]

The college was established by Catholic laymen as Magdalen College in 1973.[7] From 1974 to 1991 the college operated at its original campus in Bedford, New Hampshire; in 1991, it moved to its current site in rural Warner.[8]

As of 2010, enrollment was reported to be 68 students.[9]


Catholic laymen Francis Boucher, John Meehan and Peter Sampo[10] founded Magdalen College in 1973, responding to the Second Vatican Council's call for the education of lay Catholic leaders, and with the encouragement of the Bishop of Manchester, Ernest John Primeau.[11] The college was chartered by the State of New Hampshire August 22, 1973, and enrolled its first students in September 1974.[8]

From 1974 to 1991, the college operated at its original campus, a former motel building in Bedford, New Hampshire. In 1979, there were 70 students and 20 alumni.[12]

Under the presidency of co-founder John Meehan, the college followed a policy of standing in loco parentis and closely supervised students' dress, manners, and behavior in order to maintain a moral atmosphere.[13]

In 1988, there were 39 students. New Hampshire state education officials questioned the college's financial stability. A benefactor's support enabled the college to continue operation.[14] Within three years, Magdalen College had purchased and developed a new campus property.[15]

The college relocated to its current site in Warner, New Hampshire, in 1991.[11]

From 2007 to 2011, the college owned the Durward's Glen retreat house in Baraboo, Wisconsin, formerly a novitiate for the Order of St. Camillus, and operated it as a site for retreats, religious events, and educational programs.[16][17][18][19]

From 2008-2010, Magdalen College discussed a merger or "unification" with Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire. The merger was cancelled, but both institutions incorporated elements of the other's program into their own.[20]

From 2008-10 the college underwent a process of reform to shed its image of severity; the student handbook was revised[21][22][23] and the college's policy on dating was reversed[24] (it had previously prohibited dating).[25]

In October 2010, the college was renamed The College of Saint Mary Magdalen. It modified its curriculum to include studies of ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and post-Modern culture, and a four-year cycle of music and art courses.[26][27]

In 2011, the students and faculty of the Erasmus Institute of Liberal Arts, founded by Magdalen's first president Peter V. Sampo, joined the college, bringing with them the institute's four-year liberal arts curriculum inspired by educators Donald and Louise Cowan.[28] However, by the end of the first semester of having two programs, the Great Books and the Cowan, it became clear that the dual program approach "would not work".[29] The Cowan Program faculty and parts of the program itself would be merged with the Great Books Program, and the remaining Cowan students would be grandfathered in and allowed to continue according to the Cowan Program.[29] The curriculum merger lead to the introduction of concentrations and the optional study of Greek into the Great Books Program.[30]

Presidents of the college

  1. Dr. Peter V. Sampo, 1974-1978
  2. John Meehan, 1978-1998
  3. Jeffrey Karls, 1998-2011[31][32]
  4. Dr. George Harne, 2011—[33]


The college offers curricula based on close reading of the "Great Books" of Western civilization. The Great Books Program follows a Socratic pedagogy of questioning and discussion. Courses of study are based upon the classical trivium and quadrivium. Students may also receive a Vatican-approved Apostolic Catechetical Diploma.[33] The college offers concentrations in Theology, Philosophy, Literature, and Political Philosophy.[34] Students spend the spring semester of their sophomore year in Rome.[35]

With the exception of two concentration courses per semester in the junior and senior years, all students follow the same Great Books curriculum. The course of studies includes a four-year philosophy and humanities sequence of seminars, studies in Rome, three years of theology leading to an Apostolic Catechetical Diploma, four years of music and art, two years of Greek or Latin, three years of science, and courses in logic, geometry, grammar, rhetoric, and non-Western cultures. Students complete a junior project based in their concentration and as seniors complete comprehensive exams and write a senior thesis.[35]


Students may obtain an Associate of Liberal Arts,[36] a Bachelor of Liberal Arts[36] and, on completion of the Bachelor's degree and six semesters of theology and catechesis,[33] the Apostolic Catechetical Diploma awarded by the Roman Curia's Congregation for the Clergy.[15]


The College of Saint Mary Magdalen is an accredited member of the American Academy for Liberal Education.[37]

In 2009, the college reported the start of a "self-study" process for possible regional accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.[38] The college is actively pursuing accreditation from the New England Association.[39]

Student organizations

Student organizations include:

There are also intramural sports. Sporting events take place between student teams from both Magdalen and the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in football, soccer and basketball. There are also sporting events between faculty/staff and student teams.[45]

Student Life hosts a "student organization night" in the fall semester. Each organization has a booth to promote its activities.[41]


Sources consulted

Comprehensive Self-Study for The New England Association of Schools and Colleges by The College of Saint Mary Magdalen, Student Edition (Warner, NH: The College of Saint Mary Magdalen, 28 February 2013), herein referenced as "Self-Study, pg.___"

External links

  • The College of Saint Mary Magdalen official website
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