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 the bluffs 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 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 ongoing.
Over more than a century, countless students destined to influence the world have walked across our campus. St. Ambrose students have arrived on campus every year seeking great opportunities 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 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 ideals guiding our decision-making. These require that we be committed to the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, which means learning from founding sources in the natural and social sciences, the arts, philosophy and theology in order to engage conversation between faith and reason. Our intent to help our students develop holistically (intellectually, spiritually, ethically, socially, artistically and physically) as life-long learners so they may be enriched as they strive to enrich the lives of others. Our Core Values (Catholicity, integrity, the liberal arts, life-long learning and diversity) guide our daily efforts as a Diocesan university. Our Vision calls us to be a leading institution; an institution committed to academic excellence, grounded in the liberal arts, and dedicated to faith development, social justice, and service. All of this is an expression of how we fulfill our Mission.
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.