Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ladycliff College

Ladycliff College
Ladycliff College

Location: Highland Falls, New York, USA

Opened: 1933

Closed:  Men admitted for class of 1978; closed 1980

Many small Catholic liberal arts colleges for women have been lost over the last few decades. Ladycliff is one of them. Notice that once again, a last ditch effort to save the college by admitting men was ineffective.

Adapted from the History of Ladycliff College:

The former Cranston's Hotel
On January 1, 1900, the Franciscan Sisters of Peekskill acquired Cranston’s Hotel, a summer retreat perched on the cliffs along the west bank of the Hudson on property adjacent to the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Sisters named this majestic, dramatic parcel “Lady Cliff”; it would house their School—the Academy of Our Lady of Angels, founded in 1870 and located in Peekskill, New York. Dedication of the buildings and grounds took place on September 9, 1900, and the Sisters set out to modernize and renovate the properties.  While doing so, they changed their School’s name to Ladycliff Academy.  Ladycliff Academy and Ladycliff College co-existed on the property until the 1960s when the Academy relocated to Mohegan in order to accommodate expansion of the College.

Ladycliff College opened its doors in 1933, having received its charter from the Board of Regents of the University of New York.  Materials promoting the College to interested young women and their families highlighted the Sisters’ goals for students:  “You will find here what your mind desires, ideal location, a liberal education, social activities, religious activities—all of which are directed to the development of a noble and useful life.”  The Sisters of St. Francis aimed “to extend through the medium of higher education its full development of young women . . . to be efficient members and leaders of society.”  The curriculum offered students cultural background, it prepared them to teach, and it emphasized both religion and philosophy.  As well, the curriculum incorporated art, music, and physical conditioning.  A philosophy for the education of women was established; it would remain the foundation for academic studies and personal development for the life of the College. 

In 1940, the Board of Regents granted Ladycliff College a permanent charter empowering it to award both the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science degrees.

 In 1960, Ladycliff received accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and thus became part of a whole new arena in Catholic Higher Education.

Aerial view, Ladycliff College
In 1961, Ladycliff matched the graduation rate of 1950 (46 women), and in 1969, 115 women graduated from the College.  Aims for students remained intact through this time, an honors programs was introduced, honor societies followed, a foundation curriculum was in place, and a variety of concentrations were available to students. 

Anyone reviewing archival data about the College from the early 1970s would conclude that it held great promise for the decade and beyond.  Socioeconomic and institutional indicators all suggested further growth in all aspects of life and work on campus.  New opportunities for study had emerged in studio art, business management, anthropology, sociology, political science, psychology.

With the close of the decade came the admittance of men as matriculated students in all programs available at the College. The class of 1978 included 7 men.

Sadly, though, the 1970s was the last decade for Ladycliff College. A commitment to affordability made it impossible to sustain the College financially.  In 1980, despite its great successes, Ladycliff College closed. 

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