Salve Regina's story reaches back in time almost 200 years, to an Irish Catholic laywoman named Catherine McAuley. Deeply aware of the pressing social, economic and religious challenges facing her community, McAuley used her unexpected inheritance to build a house of mercy in Dublin, where those in need could find shelter, welcome, an education and community.
Soon joined by other companions, McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in 1831 to continue this work through a new, active form of religious life where sisters take a vow of service to the poor, the sick and the uneducated. The vocational commitments and the charism of the Sisters of Mercy continue to form the mission of Salve Regina today.
For nearly two centuries, the Sisters of Mercy have maintained a presence throughout the world, and have been deeply involved in education, health care, pastoral ministry and social services. Spanning the United States is a network of universities and secondary and elementary schools sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, who are assisted in their ministry by well-qualified lay faculty, staff and administrators.
Outstanding among these institutions is Salve Regina. In 1934, the state of Rhode Island granted a charter to the Sisters of Mercy of Providence for a corporation named Salve Regina College. Beyond noting that Salve Regina was to exist "to promote virtue, and piety and learning," there were no specific directives. The charter left all educational options to the sisters.
In 1947, following more than a dozen years of careful preparation, the turn-of-the-century Newport mansion Ochre Court was gifted to the college corporation, enabling Salve Regina to welcome its first class of 58 students that fall. Salve Regina became coeducational in 1973 and achieved university status in 1991, at which time the school's charter was amended to change the name of the corporation to Salve Regina University.
Salve Regina's story continues today with faculty and administration preparing students for active roles within a global society. The rigorous course of study integrates responsible citizenship and public service, while the interconnection of academic programs forms a stable foundation for students to reflect and learn within the context of mercy values.
As Salve Regina grows, it remains firmly rooted in the heritage of its rich past. The vision which energized the Sisters of Mercy at the University's founding remains the same today: Salve Regina, a Catholic university of distinction, will graduate men and women who positively impact the intellectual, spiritual and cultural life of their respective communities and work for a world that is harmonious, just and merciful.