Marian University (formerly College) opened on September 8, 1936, with eight faculty members and 17 full-time and 25 part-time students. Sponsored and staffed by the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, a teaching order founded by Father Caspar Rehrl, the Sisters were inspired to found their own university when the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction barred religious attire from public schools. Founding sisters Aloysia Leickem and Vera Naber became the first president and first academic dean, respectively.

The Marian legacy moved further forward in 1941, when the school received accreditation to grant bachelor’s degrees in elementary education. Its first eight CSA degrees were awarded in that same year, with the first lay-graduates awarded degrees in 1942. By 1950, the women’s college housed in a convent next to St. Agnes Hospital had grown to 86 full-time and 145 part-time students in day, evening and summer classes. Marian’s first male student was Hal F. Hornby, who attended art and music classes with his wife in 1940. Male students were officially admitted in 1970. This change came just three years after another growth, when Marian absorbed students from the St. Agnes School of Nursing program after its closing.

Due to these increasing numbers of students and staff, in the mid-1960s the campus was moved to its current 78-acre location bounded by South National Avenue and East Division Street.

Marian began its affiliation with The Catholic University of America  in 1947 and was also recognized by the National Catholic Educational Association in 1949. In 1960, Marian earned accreditation for teacher education from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). In 1987, the NCA approved Marian’s Master of Arts degree in Education, with the first 12 master’s candidates receiving degrees in 1989. Graduates in the Master of Science in Quality, Values and Leadership followed in 1994, with Administration of Justice Leadership, Grief and Bereavement Leadership and Organization Leadership following in 2008. The Master of Science in Nursing program graduated its first class in 2004, and Marian’s first doctorate program-Educational Administration and Leadership-awarded its first degrees in 2008.

Marian’s campus has undergone a number of vital enhancements to meet student needs over the years. To accommodate growing housing demand, the Marian Courtyards were built in 1993, followed by the purchase and conversion of nearby Cedar Creek Apartments in 2010. Students past and present also benefitted from the Todd Wehr Alumni Center and Common Grounds Coffeehouse, completed in 1999. The Stayer Center for Technology & Executive Learning, completed in 2001, is the home of Marian’s Information Technology program. Marian also purchased a former medical clinic located west of campus in 2006, which was renovated to serve as the nursing resource and practice facility and renamed The Agnes Center. The Smith Fields athletic and intramural complex opened in 2002, and in 2008, the first pitch was thrown at the Sabre’s baseball stadium, Herr-Baker Field. In 2011, Marian athletics benefitted from both the Lenz Field House, a state-of-the-art indoor recreation facility, and the 2,000-square-foot women’s hockey locker room at the Blue Line Family Ice Center. In 2013, Marian purchased and remodeled a house adjacent to campus into the Samuel and Sarah Mackey Campus Ministry Center and Counseling Center, a resource and retreat space for all members of the campus community.

Marian sponsors NCAA Division III men’s basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, hockey, soccer and tennis and women’s basketball, cross country, golf, hockey, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. Marian teams have won 25 conference regular season titles and 15 conference tournament titles in recent years, and have gone to 12 NCAA Division III tournaments in the university’s first eight years in Division III.

Today Marian is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (30 N. LaSalle St. Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, (312) 263-0456,, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Council on Social Work Education and International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. Marian’s curriculum has received approvals from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin State Board of Nursing, and Marian’s curriculum has been certified by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Law Enforcement Standards Board Training and Standards Bureau.

Marian currently offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and minors in traditional liberal arts and pre-professional programs for both traditional and adult undergraduates. The academic schools – Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Nursing and Health Professions – offer programs of study designed to meet a full range of professional and pre-professional academic needs for its students. The faculty consists of exceptional professionals who are committed to the students and to the university. Over half have earned or are candidates for a doctoral degree, and most faculty members in professional programs hold certification and are members of their respective professional associations. The student-faculty ratio is among the lowest of Wisconsin’s private colleges.

At the start of the 2013-14 academic year, Marian had an enrollment of 2,180 students among the university’s undergraduate and graduate programs. Besides the Fond du Lac campus, Marian students attend classes in our Appleton and West Allis centers and in several other outreach sites, including Green Bay, Madison, Watertown, Wausau and other locations.

On May 1, 2008, Marian College was officially recognized by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools as Marian University.