St. Ambrose University was founded as St. Ambrose Seminary in 1882 by the Most Reverend John McMullen, first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. He named the school after St. Ambrose, the fourth-century Bishop of Milan, Doctor of the Church, lawyer, Roman governor, and advisor to several Roman emperors. St. Ambrose was a renowned orator, thinker and administrator, but he is most well-known as the person responsible for the conversion of St. Augustine to Christianity.
Located along a bluff of the great Mississippi River, St. Ambrose University has come a long way since it began as a seminary and school of commerce for young men in 1882. According to the Seminary's 1883 catalog, its purpose was "to impart to students a thorough mental culture so as to enable them to fulfill any chosen position in life." To accomplish this, there were, from the beginning, curricula in the humanities and the arts and sciences, as well as professional studies such as pre-law, pre-medicine and business.
From its inception, St. Ambrose welcomed students from all religious faiths, ethnic backgrounds, and economic circumstances-an openness unusual for Catholic schools at that time. This emphasis on programs of career preparation taught in the context of Catholic and liberal arts traditions has remained central to the institution to the present day. Throughout time, traditions like the close connections between faculty and students and personal attention to student goals, safety, commitment to service and Catholic identity took root and live on today. The campus has grown remarkably in recent decades, and with it we have the services and support to ensure our students, faculty and staff have the best environment in which to learn, live and work. Our work and commitment to excellence in education is on-going.
Over more than a century, countless students destined to influence the world have walked across our campus. For over 125 years St. Ambrose students have arrived on campus every fall seeking great opportunity and vast experiences. Anchored in Davenport, Iowa, St. Ambrose University thrives as a quiet, secluded campus in a diverse and vibrant urban setting. While there is great opportunity for students to engage in the many living and learning opportunities on campus, they are part of a diverse and economically growing Quad Cities region located in the heart of the Midwest and home to a variety of health science and manufacturing industries. While grounded in the work ethic and vision of the Midwest, St. Ambrose University is a university with relationships across the world. Faculty work diligently to prepare our students with the knowledge, skills, and disposition necessary for a future that is global and well beyond the doorsteps of campus.
At St. Ambrose University, our Mission, Vision, and Core Values are the very ideals guiding our decision-making. As a campus community, we are committed to serving students. Through the construct of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, we are dedicated to helping them to develop into not only future professionals or graduate students, but also holistically (intellectually, spiritually, ethically, socially, artistically and physically) so they may enrich the lives of others. Our Core Values (Catholicity, integrity, the liberal arts, life-long learning and diversity) remind us what matters, and guide our work day-in and day-out as a Diocesan university.
But, as a University, we don't stop there. Our Vision calls us to be a leading institution; an institution committed to academic excellence, grounded in the liberal arts, and dedicated to social justice and service.