The College of Saint Teresa, a Catholic college of the liberal arts and the professions, was founded in 1907 as a resident 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, in a horse-drawn surrey. They arrived with meager monetary means, the sum total of $4.28 between them, but with a strong faith and dedication to their mission. They took possession of a property purchased earlier in the year by the Sisters, property which had previously been used as a hospital. The purchase of the property was authorized for the sum of $29,000 taken as a mortgage plus a cash payment of $1,000, a gift of Bishop Joseph B. Cotter. Immediately, the Sisters began plans for the opening of the Winona Seminary for Young Ladies.
Forty-nine students were enrolled in the first class. The first faculty included six Sisters and four laywomen and men. The curriculum 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.
College level courses were begun 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 beginning of a dream. The College of Saint Teresa became the teaching-learning-living community envisioned by its founders.
From one building, Saint Mary Hall, the campus expanded to eleven buildings over 70 acres of land. The College was aware that environment exerted a strong influence on both cognitive and affective learning. It sought, therefore, to provide a physical environment conducive to the ideals of the teaching-learning-living experience sought by the founders.
Since its beginning, the College of Saint Teresa committed itself to the education of the young women in two specific areas, academic excellence and service. These goals, achieved through dedication to academic excellence and the development of the spiritual and personal dimensions of the individual, were established at its founding and existed throughout the life of the College.
Throughout its history, the College of Saint Teresa has been a “contemporary” college responding to the needs of each new generation of students without compromising those values that give purpose and strength to the institution…the entire collegiate life at the College is built upon the nature and dignity of the human person.
~ Mission and Identity of the College of Saint Teresa
The College of Saint Teresa closed in 1989. The Alumnae Association carries on Teresan traditions and values by fostering friendship and communication among the alumnae, assisting in the establishment of alumnae chapters, and promoting the cause of higher education.