The College of Saint Mary Magdalen

The College of Saint Mary Magdalen
The College of Saint Mary Magdalen
Motto Gaudium et spes
Established 1973
Type Private
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
President George Harne
Students 68
Location Warner, NH, USA

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 was established by Catholic laymen as Magdalen College in 1973. 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.[1]

As of 2010, enrollment was reported as 68 students.[2]



Catholic laymen Francis Boucher, John Meehan and Peter Sampo[3] 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.[4] The college was chartered by the State of New Hampshire August 22, 1973, and enrolled its first students in September 1974.[1]

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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7] Within three years, Magdalen College had purchased and developed a new campus property.[citation needed]

The college relocated to its current site in Warner, New Hampshire, in 1991.[4]

In 2008-10 the college underwent a process of reform to shed its image of severity; the Student Handbook was revised and the college's policy on dating was reversed.[8] [9][10]

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.[11]

In 2011, the Erasmus Institute of Liberal Arts, founded by Magdalen's first president Peter V. Sampo, was merged into the College as a program with its own four-year liberal arts curriculum inspired by educators Donald and Louise Cowan.[12]

Presidents of the college

  1. Peter V. Sampo, 1974-1978
  2. John Meehan, 1978-1998
  3. Jeffrey Karls, 1998-2011
  4. George Harne, 2011-


The college offers two curricula, both based on close reading of the "Great Books" of Western civilization. One program--the Great Books Program--follows a Socratic pedagogy of questioning and discussion, while the other--the Cowan Program--relies upon lecture. In the Great Books Program, students may receive an Apostolic Catechetical Diploma and follow a course of study based upon the classical trivium and quadrivium. In the Cowan Program, students may concentrate in Literature, Political Science, or Philosophy in their junior and senior years. Students in both curricula spend a semester in Rome.[13]


Students may obtain an Associate of Liberal Arts, a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and, on completion of the Bachelor's degree, the Apostolic Catechetical Diploma awarded by the Roman Curia's Congregation for the Clergy.


The College of Saint Mary Magdalen is an accredited member of the American Academy for Liberal Education.[14]

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.[15]

Student life

Students assist on campus in a variety of ways for two to three hours per week: these hours of campus service might include maintaining the college's website, tutoring other students, working in the kitchen, serving as a resident assistant, maintaining the grounds, serving as sacristan, maintaining the buildings, or working in the library.[citation needed]

Student visits to opposite-sex dormitories are not permitted.[citation needed]

Retreat house

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]


  1. ^ a b "Our History: Responding to the Call for Spiritual Renewal". The College of Saint Mary Magdalen. Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  2. ^ Magdalen College - At a Glance, College Board College Search website, accessed March 26, 2010
  3. ^ "Magdalen College celebrates 30th anniversary". Catholic Exchange. December 11, 2003. 
  4. ^ a b "The Newman Guide: Magdalen College". Cardinal Newman Society. 
  5. ^ Adolphe V. Bernotas (November 24, 1979). "A backward step: tiny Magdalen College operates without frills". Milwaukee Sentinel (AP story).,2301919. 
  6. ^ Mary Jo Weaver (1995). Being right: conservative Catholics in America. Indiana University Press. p. 318. 
  7. ^ Adolphe V. Bernotas (March 10, 1988). "Tiny Magdalen College is determined to grow stronger". Nashua Telegraph (AP story).,3587831. 
  8. ^ Student Handbook. Warner, NH: Magdalen College. 1992. 
  9. ^ Student Handbook. Warner, NH: Magdalen College. 2009. 
  10. ^ Patti Maguire Armstrong (August 1, 2011). "Re-branding the College of St. Mary Magdalen". Catholic Lane. 
  11. ^ "Catholic college gains new name and renewed purpose". Spero News. October 18, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Erasmus Institute Joins the College of Saint Mary Magdalen (press release)". College of Saint Mary Magdalen. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Academics: Sequence of Readings". 
  14. ^ Accredited and Certified Members, AALE website (accessed October 26, 2010).
  15. ^ "Community News". Magdalen College. February 10, 2009. 
  16. ^ Mesely Luis (June 11, 2007). "Celebrating Corpus Christi at Durward's Glen". Catholic Online. 
  17. ^ Kathleen Bushman (May 3, 2007). "Durward's Glen: Purchased by a Catholic college". Madison Catholic Herald. 
  18. ^ "A peaceful place, an uncertain time". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. January 21, 2007. 
  19. ^ Mary C. Uhler (May 26, 2011). "Celebrating the purchase of Durward's Glen". Catholic Herald (Madison, Wisconsin). 

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