Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.
The History and Heritage of St. Olaf
A group of pioneer pastors, farmers and businessmen in Rice, Dakota and Goodhue counties, under the leadership of the Rev. Bernt Julius Muus, the Rev. N.A. Quammen and Harald Thorson, laid the groundwork for the college's founding in 1874. The purpose of the school, then as now, was to offer a program of liberal studies to students preparing for careers in business, politics, the clergy and other professions.
In choosing a name for the institution, the founders responded to strong Norwegian national as well as religious symbolism; it grew out of a celebration in the Norwegian immigrant community of the splendor of the Nordic middle ages as a means of defining ethnic merits and identity. They named the school for Olav II Haraldsson (spelled Olaf in the 19th century), king of Norway from 1016 until 1030. His martyrdom on July 29, 1030, at the Battle of Stiklestad, close to Pastor Muus's own place of birth, made him Norway's patron saint and eternal king and secured a national monarchy and the position of the Christian church in that country.
St. Olaf's School was operated as an academy until 1886, when a college department was added. The name was changed to St. Olaf College in 1889. The first college class graduated in 1890. The academy was discontinued in 1917.
Affiliated with the Lutheran Church throughout its history, St. Olaf is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 1900 the college department of the United Church Seminary was consolidated with St. Olaf, and in 1917 the college department of Red Wing Seminary was merged with St. Olaf.
Many influences have combined to make St. Olaf what it is today. Dedicated faculty members have contributed to its academic reputation. Originating in the Norwegian immigrant desire for higher learning, the college has made a significant contribution to American liberal arts education while maintaining an academic center with a strong program for the study of Scandinavian culture. The rich St. Olaf tradition in music has gained worldwide renown for the college through its choirs and instrumental organizations.
Since 1874 the college has had ten presidents: the Rev. Thorbjorn N. Mohn, who was first the principal of St. Olaf's School and then the president of St. Olaf College until 1899; John N. Kildahl, 1899-1914; Lauritz A. Vigness, 1914-1918; Lars W. Boe, 1918-1942; Clemens M. Granskou, 1943-1963; Sidney A. Rand, 1963-1980; Harlan F. Foss, 1980-1985; Melvin D. George, 1985-1994; Mark U. Edwards, Jr., 1994 to 2000; Christopher M. Thomforde, 2001-2006; and David R. Anderson, 2006 — present.
Phi Beta Kappa
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
American Council on Education
Associated Colleges of the Midwest
Association of American Colleges
Lutheran Educational Council of North America
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Minnesota Association of Colleges of Nursing
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division III
Minnesota Private College Council
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
American Chemical Society
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Council on Social Work Education
National Association of Schools of Dance
National Association of Schools of Music
National Association of Schools of Theatre
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission
North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
National Honorary and Service Organizations
Phi Beta Kappa (Scholarship)
Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology)
Beta Beta Beta (Biology)
The Blue Key (Leadership)
Epsilon Alpha Sigma (Asian Studies)
Eta Sigma Phi (Classics)
Omicron Delta Epsilon (Economics)
Phi Alpha Theta (History)
Pi Delta Phi (French)
Pi Kappa Delta (Forensics)
Pi Kappa Lambda (Music)
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science)
Psi Chi (Psychology)
Senior Women's Honor (Leadership)
Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics)
Sigma Theta Tau (Nursing)
Theta Alpha Kappa (Religion)
Theta Alpha Phi (Theater)
Alpha Phi Omega
Sigma Kappa Tau