Time Line of the University's History: 1950's

On December 12, 2002, Holy Family College received approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for a change of status to University. Even though many of the events listed in the time line occurred prior to that date, the term “University” is used in most entries.



In 1952, Sister M. Neomisia Rutkowska, CSFN, Provincial Superior of the Immaculate Conception Province of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, took initiatives to attain approval of congregational, archdiocesan, and state authorities to found a women's college in the Torresdale section of Northeast Philadelphia. That year she received the approval of congregational leaders and Philadelphia’s Archbishop John Cardinal O’Hara, CSC, for the undertaking. Subsequently, in October 1953, she obtained from the Pennsylvania State Council on Education the endorsement of the name “Holy Family College” and, on February 11, 1954, the legal charter that gave the university its corporate existence, establishing it as a four year college for women, empowered to award the bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences. In March, groundbreaking took place for Holy Family Hall.
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Holy Family University commenced its first academic year on September 2, 1954. The initial governance of the university consisted of the Board of Trustees, supported by an advisory board and an administrative team of college officials. Enrollment in the inaugural year consisted of seventeen young women who attended classes temporarily in the mezzanine of Nazareth Academy High School. By November, the first student government was established and, on December 17, the first Christmas Rose program premiered. As the spring semester approached, the first Holy Family Symposium was established on January 9, 1955. In February, the freshman class participated in "capping day” as Holy Family prepared to celebrate its first Charter Day anniversary on February 11. By the end of the month, the cornerstone for Holy Family Hall had been laid. As the pioneer year drew to a close, students published the first issue of Tri-Lite on May 31, 1955.
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In the fall, John Cardinal O’Hara, CSC, dedicated Holy Family Hall on November 21, 1955. During the spring semester the glee club, to which all students belonged, held its first performance during the Easter season, a tradition that continued for many years. The Pennsylvania Council of Education approved the secondary education program in April. The following month, two long-standing traditions debuted - Regina Night processions and Genesiennes productions - the first being “The Barretts.”
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Holy Family commenced its non-credit program for adults in October. During the spring semester the first intercollegiate sport was organized, and the “Hi-Fi’s” - forerunner of the University’s current athletics teams - competed in their first basketball season.
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As the first class of seniors began their final year, the parents association - later known as “Parents and Friends of Holy Family University” - and the alumni association were established. Other firsts included the establishment of Albertans, the science club; the first honors convocation on November 21, 1957; production of the first edition of Familogue in May and, on June 2, 1958, Holy Family’s first Commencement. During the spring semester, the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association approved the medical technology program in March.
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Holy Family initiated its first expansion program in November with groundbreaking for its original student residence building, the original Lourdes Hall. Folio published its first edition in the spring semester.
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In August, Sister Aloysius Sabacinska succeeded Sister Neomisia Rutkowska as second president of Holy Family University. In November, residents occupied the newly completed (and original) Lourdes Hall, which was renamed St. Joseph Hall in the 1980s. Bishop Joseph McShea presided over its dedication on February 11, 1960. Lambda Iota Tau, national honor society for literature, and Logos, the philosophy club, were established.
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