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St. Norbert College Celebrates 125th Anniversary

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From St. Norbert College, October 17, 2023
by Hannah O'Brien,, 920-403-3153

St. Norbert College, a leading Catholic institution of higher education known for its rich history, academic excellence, winning athletic tradition and strong ties to the local community, celebrates its 125th anniversary this October.

Since its inception, St. Norbert College has evolved to meet the changing needs of students and the community. In October 1898, the Rev. Bernard Pennings, a Dutch immigrant priest, founded the college to train young men for the priesthood. Pennings soon discovered a need for higher education in northeastern Wisconsin and started a commerce program for lay students; the college became co-educational in 1952. Today it enrolls about 1,900 students in its 80-plus undergraduate programs and three graduate programs.

St. Norbert College President Laurie Joyner says the 125th anniversary is not only a celebration of the college’s history but also a time to reflect on the college’s steadfast commitment to its Catholic identity, academic excellence and student success, which is reflected in the lives of its responsible, compassionate and ethical graduates.

“St. Norbert College has a remarkable history, and we are incredibly proud to celebrate 125 years of transformative education,” Joyner said. “Our mission, rooted in the 900-year-
old Norbertine tradition, has always been to empower our students with the knowledge and values they need to make a positive impact in the world. Our longevity is a testament to our enduring commitment to this mission and to the dedicated individuals who have contributed to our success over the years.”

The college has planned a series of events and initiatives to mark this historic milestone. Highlights include a miniseries that explores campus areas featuring the college’s heritage, including Old St. Joseph Church, the Shrine of St. Joseph and statues at Birder Hall; special Homecoming celebrations; and a lecture titled “Laying Down Roots: The Norbertines and SNC 1893-1925,” presented by St. Norbert College 2018 alumnus Alex Gruber.

The college also is in the midst of the Support What Matters campaign, a $125 million fundraising initiative timed to align with the college’s 125th anniversary. The campaign focuses on preserving, enhancing and amplifying the things that make St. Norbert College unique -- and uniquely important in a complex and ever-changing world.

For more information about St. Norbert College’s mission and heritage, go to

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