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Holy Cross starts 4-year degree

Teresa Fralish | Friday, August 29, 2003

While new Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s freshmen have been settling into college life, a new group of students prepares to make its mark at Holy Cross College.

For the first time in the school’s history, four-year students have enrolled at Holy Cross, marking a transition from a junior college to a full-fledged academic institution.

“This is the realization of almost three years of work by our faculty and students,” said William Mangan, vice president for academic affairs at the College. “We’re thrilled to begin our journey with our students.”

The baccalaureate program debuted this August with an inaugural class of 15 students, according to Justin Watson, the program’s director. Watson said he believes the program will eventually expand to include several hundred students.

The new program has also created a new spirit of enthusiasm among faculty, administrators, alumni and students, said Mangan. “We notice a widespread awareness in the student body about our baccalaureate program,” he said.

The creation of the baccalaureate program represents only one aspect of recent expansions in the College. “Just nine years ago there were no dorms, no student dining facility, no Vincent Atrium and no four-year students. Now there are several hundred resident students, a series of beautiful new buildings and the start of a four-year program,” Watson said.

Rather than choosing a specific major, the new program’s emphasis will be on a broad liberal arts education that will allow students to enter a variety of fields after graduation. Students will take classes in a broad range of disciplines.

“The most immediate need that the College has for the support [of] our program is to expand our career development efforts. We believe that the long-term success of our program will depend on the success of our students at getting jobs or going to graduate school,” Mangan said. Specifically, Holy Cross has worked to develop a wide range of internship opportunities for its baccalaureate students and requires that each student complete an internship.

Along with the mandatory internship, students must also complete a study-abroad requirement. During the program’s development, the College worked with the Congregation and Brothers of the Holy Cross to establish opportunities for the four-year students.

“This past summer, seven of our baccalaureate students traveled to Ghana to live and learn from the Brothers of [the] Holy Cross there,” Mangan said.

According to Michael Mancini, the College’s director of development, students can also complete fellowship projects in an area of personal interest as part of the baccalaureate program. “One student, Megan Craney, is working on projects that would bring together students, faculty, staff and alumni to further enhance this personal experience,” said Mancini, who is working with Craney on the fellowship.

“There’s just a really good relationship between students and faculty,” said Craney in a previous interview.

Holy Cross began development of the program after students and alumni expressed an interest in spending their entire four years of college at Holy Cross. Additionally, the College wanted to bring increased leadership to campus with junior and senior students.