The College of Saint Teresa, a Catholic college of the liberal arts and the professions, was founded in 1907 as a residential college for women by the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rochester, Minnesota.
In March 1894, Sisters Leo Tracy and Dominic Mahl, Rochester Franciscans, journeyed to Winona, Minnesota, to begin the venture. They arrived with meager monetary means, just $4.28 between them, but with a strong faith and dedication to their mission; they took possession of a building previously used as a hospital. The Congregation had obtained the property earlier in the year from Bishop Joseph B. Cotter for a cash payment of $1,000 plus a $29,000 mortgage. Immediately, the Sisters began plans for renovation of the building and the opening of the Winona Seminary for Young Ladies.
In the first class that fall fifty-nine students were enrolled. The initial faculty included six Sisters and four lay persons. The curriculum – in addition to secondary academic subjects – consisted of the following offerings: piano, mandolin, guitar, violin, voice, elocution, business, art, Latin, and gymnastics. Father John Cummiskey of the Winona Diocese was the first chaplain.
Dr. Mary A. Molloy, a Cornell graduate, began college level courses under the tutorial system in 1907. In 1912 the college was fully established and the name changed to the College of Saint Teresa. The faith and dedication of the Franciscan Sisters had resulted in the fulfillment of a dream. The College of Saint Teresa became the teaching-learning-living community envisioned by its early leaders.
From one building, Saint Mary’s Hall, the campus expanded to eleven buildings spread across seventy acres. Aware that environment exerts a strong influence on both cognitive and affective learning, those in charge provided surroundings conducive to the ideals established years before.
From its founding, the College of Saint Teresa was committed to the education of young women in two specific areas, academic excellence and service. These goals were achieved throughout the entire life of the College through adherence to strict academic standards as well as to the development of the spiritual and personal dimensions of the individual.