Ursuline College is unique in the US, as it was founded and continuously led by women over the past 151 years. In celebration of the sesquicentennial milestone, the event that was originally scheduled for April 2021 was postponed due to Covid, but was held last month in the always-gorgeous atrium of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Four-hundred guests enjoyed cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres before sitting down at tables draped in royal blue satin with hydrangea and white rose centerpieces. Between courses, speakers referred to the college’s history, starting with the six French Ursulines who came to Cleveland in 1871, obtaining a charter from the State of Ohio for the first Catholic college for women in the United States. Guests were
thrilled when Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb brought a city proclamation to the event, and even more thrilled to learn the mayor’s mother, Charlene Nichols is an Ursuline alum.
Today, Ursuline has about 1100 students and is well-known for its nursing program, as well as its counseling, art therapy, and social work course studies. In 2020, Forbes cited a national study in which modest Ursuline College was the number one private college in the country with its success rate of putting its students on a path of financial security and upward mobility. It was clear the guests, who represented a wide range of ages, were in attendance not only to enjoy the camaraderie but to support the college’s scholarship fund.
While the Ursuline tradition in the US is 151 years old, the Ursuline tradition, founded by St. Angela Merici in northern Italy is over 500 years old. “A loose translation of one of St. Angela’s counsels is to ‘be ready for big surprises,’” says Sr. Christine De Vinne, the 17th and current president of Ursuline College. “Angela was always looking forward, and today, while we celebrate the past, we are looking forward as well.” The college indicates it raised more than $200,000 for student scholarships at the event. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER