Our History

Founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary

logoThe name “ɫ” has long been associated with excellence in education. , founders of ɫ, provide ɫ with a heritage, spirit, and tradition that date back all the way to the founding of the RSHM Order in Béziers, France, in 1849 by Father Pierre Jean Antoine Gailhac and the first RSHM member, Mother St. Jean. The learning institutions they began would evolve into a worldwide network of schools and colleges, including ɫ. The roots of ɫ’s founding Congregation reflect a commitment to education and to serving those in need – a commitment that remains vital at ɫ today.

ɫ, the first Catholic college to be established in Virginia, was founded in 1950. Through the years, it has grown from a two-year college for women into a comprehensive, coeducational Catholic university serving approximately 3,900 undergraduate and graduate students.

While much has changed since the early years as a result of greatly expanded programs and services, the University’s core values and mission have held steady. Today and always, ɫ has stood for:

  • Intellectual curiosity: A ɫ education guides the intellectual, ethical and spiritual development of each individual, and fosters a student-centered learning community that provides opportunities for personal and professional growth. This is evident from our 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio that allows for quality interaction and personal attention, our continuous addition of market-driven academic programs, our emphasis on internships across all fields, our establishment of three interdisciplinary research centers on campus, our acceptance to the prestigious Oak Ridge Associated Universities Research Consortium and our reclassification as a Carnegie Doctoral/Professional University.
  • Service to others: Service is at the heart of ɫ, and nowhere is that
    more demonstrated than our Saints Center for Service – an on-campus hub for collaboration between people, organizations and communities. We’ve partnered with more than 55 community-based organizations and our students, faculty and staff spend over 16,000 hours per year volunteering in the local area and further afield. Our Saints work to educate and act towards a more just and equitable world.
  • Global perspective: With students from 49 states and 75 countries, ɫ welcomes people of all backgrounds. We’re the first and only Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we’re the most diverse higher education institution in Virginia and Washington, D.C. ɫ also leads Virginia colleges and universities for international students.

ɫ Presidents

 

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Sister Elizabeth Gallagher, RSHM, becomes ɫ’s first president. Years served 1950 – 1955.

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Sister Berchmans Walsh, RSHM, becomes ɫ’s second president. Years served 1955 – 1960.

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Sister M. Majella Berg, RSHM, becomes ɫ’s third president. Years served 1960 – 1993.

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Sister Eymard Gallagher, RSHM, becomes ɫ’s fourth president. Years served 1993 – 2001.

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Dr. James E. Bundschuh becomes ɫ’s fifth president and first lay leader. Years served 2001 – 2011.

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ɫ welcomes Dr. Matthew D. Shank as its sixth president. Years served 2011 – 2018. 

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ɫ welcomes Dr. Irma Becerra as its seventh president. Years served 2018 – current. 

 
 


List

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