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Founded by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, whose members desired to put their resources to use for the good of society through education, Regis College was incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on February 12, 1927. Through its charter, the College was empowered from the beginning to grant all the degrees ordinarily conferred by colleges in the Commonwealth, including the doctorate.
When the College opened in September 1927, it began meeting the urgent need of a Catholic college for women offering the facilities and advantages of higher education to both resident and nonresident students. Morrison House with its distinctive Norman tower and garden was residence and classroom for students and faculty alike until the massive and elegant College Hall was built in the next few years. As the College grew, so did the buildings on campus and the reputation of Regis as a superb liberal arts college in the Catholic intellectual tradition. The College was guided by a faculty of Sisters and lay professionals who were routinely doctorally educated. St. Joseph Hall became the Sisters’ residence, and separate residence halls (Maria, Domitilla, Angela) were built for students, as well as the library and science building.
During the 1970s, when Catholic men’s colleges in the region became co-educational, Regis began re-positioning itself under the leadership of its president, Sister Therese Higgins, '47, CSJ, PhD, in the higher education rich environment of greater Boston by offering graduate degrees. As religious life underwent an aggiornamento, a broadened sense of community on campus was deliberately cultivated. Dedicated lay faculty increased at the College, and students asked for greater participation in creating and implementing “the Regis College community.” The administration built up the endowment during the 1980s and constructed new athletic facilities and the Fine Arts Center by the early 1990s, also connecting campus infrastructure to systems in the larger community.
A new imagination was needed, however, for a new century, both fiscally and academically. With the leadership of President Mary Jane England, ’59, M.D., the Board of Trustees collected the environmental data on which to stabilize its financial base and secure its contemporary and future position. In order to survive and prevail, Regis College had to grow. Faculty and staff had already developed an excellent student-centered approach in the classroom and, in addition to traditional graduate and undergraduate programs had begun cultivating an intergenerational campus through the Heritage Program continuing education for returning adult students, the Children’s Center, the Academy at Regis, a kindergarten, and the Lifelong Learning Program at Regis College (LLARC) for retired seniors.
Eighty years of a strong tradition brought the College to an historical moment in August 2006 as the Regis Board affirmed a “case for growth” that established a two-school model (School of Liberal Arts, Education and Social Sciences and School of Nursing, Science, and Health Professions), developed co-education at the undergraduate level, expanded and emphasized the College’s graduate programs and their health care orientation, and promoted curricula to serve the needs of different populations of students of the 21st century.
In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Regis College has walked a path of transformation. In January 2007, Regis began offering its first doctoral program (the DNP or Doctorate of Nursing Practice), complementing a panoply of master's programs. In September 2007, Regis College officially and seamlessly made the co-ed transition and opened its doors to men as well as women undergraduates. In 2008, the Regis faculty strengthened the core curriculum at Regis through a major revamping. For 2008-2011, Regis was the first in New England to be named a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League of Nursing and has received the award again for 2011-2015. In 2009-2010, the College built aesthetically pleasing, state-of-the-art athletic fields on its north side. And, academically, in 2010 the College began implementing ten interdisciplinary Pathways of Achievement to guide all who study here – graduate and undergraduate students alike – through various arts and sciences to the realization of their academic and professional goals. In 2011, Antoinette M. Hays, PhD, RN, became the tenth president of Regis. She immediately began developing a new strategic plan and cultivating higher education partnerships and global outreach. By 2012 Regis was deeply involved in major master planning.
Graduate student and undergraduates can bring their purpose and find their paths at Regis. In the spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a vibrant and inclusive college community meets each person as our neighbor on the way and prepares all students for life and work.