Located in Cattaraugus County in western New York, the university was established by the Franciscan Brothers in 1858. The school is the flagship Franciscan-affiliated school in the English-speaking world and a center of study for the Franciscan movement.
The current president is Sister Margaret Carney OSF, the 20th president and the first religious sister to hold the position full time.
Its sports teams, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (formerly nicknamed the "Brown Indians"), play NCAA Division I sports in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The basketball teams play in the 6,000-seat Reilly Center Arena. The raucous crowd is famous in college basketball, and ESPN has called the Reilly Center one of the "Worst Places To Play" in the country.
Students and alumni refer to the university with an affectionate nickname—"Bona's"—which originates from the school's original name, St. Bonaventure's College. The college became a university in 1950.
Sometimes called the "Notre Dame of the East," St. Bonaventure is known widely for the affection its alumni have for the school, the friendly and social attitude on campus, and its role as a great Mid-Atlantic teaching college.
The college was founded by Utica financier Nicholas Devereux, one of the first to gain land grants in newly surveyed Cattaraugus County from the Holland Land Company. Devereux founded the town of Allegany on the grant, hoping to build a new city. A great city needed religious instruction, so Devereux approached John Timon, the bishop of Buffalo, for assistance. The two invited the Franciscan order to Western New York, and a small group under Father Pamfilo da Magliano OFM arrived in 1856. This was the first group of Franciscan brothers to settle in the United States. The school graduated its first class in 1858. St. Bonaventure's College was granted university status by New York State in 1950. The largest dormitory on campus, Devereux Hall, is named for the founder.
Once one of the nation's most prominent Catholic colleges, St. Bonaventure ran into financial difficulties in the early 1990s, and nearly declared bankruptcy in 1994. Since then, the school has been put on a more solid financial footing and has seen record growth and campus improvements in the past five years.
Thomas Merton, the famed 20th Century religious writer, taught English at St. Bonaventure for a year just at the start of World War II. It was at this school that Merton finally gave into his vocation and decided to join the Trappists. He entered the monastery in Kentucky in 1941. An unusual botanical phenomenon on a mountain in view of campus, where the trees have fallen and left a clearing in the shape of a heart, is linked to Merton in campus myth. Some students call it "Merton's Heart" and claim that Merton visited the place often.
Campus buildings are designed in red brick with Italianate roofs, to reflect the architecture of St. Francis' native Italy. The campus proper has several residence halls, townhouses/apartments and academic buildings. Its expansive front lawn has been cited as the largest front lawn in America.
The past couple of years has seen several campus improvements, including a new $6 million recreation center, a new Starbucks-product coffee café, and a completely renovated freshman dining hall. The state-of-the-art William F. Walsh Science Center is another recent addition.
The University is a large landowner in the Allegany area, as part of the original Deveraux grant, and offers much to appreciators of nature. The south edge of campus lies on the Allegheny River. A small portion of the campus is wooded. Across the street from campus, the university owns a cemetery, 9-hole golf course, and restaurant.
About from the main campus, the university also owns a plot of land on an Allegheny Mountain foothill in West Clarksville, New York called Mount Irenaeus. "The Mountain," as it is referred to by students, faculty and alumni, provides a retreat for students.
St. Bonaventure also has a second campus located in Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo, on the campus of Hilbert College. Some of the graduate classes are taught there, set up on a night and weekend schedule. The Hilbert College library, bookstore, cafeteria, athletic facilities and computer lab are available to St. Bonaventure graduate students during the week, including evenings, and on weekends. A computer lab directly linked to the St. Bonaventure network is located at Hilbert College.
St. Bonaventure University has its own U.S. Post Office. Mail may be addressed to St. Bonaventure, NY 14778.
The school is the largest Franciscan-affiliated institution of undergraduate higher education in the English-speaking world. The friars at the St. Bonaventure Friary belong to the Holy Name Province, OFM. Franciscan brothers at the school are members of the Order of Friars Minor, one of the orders of Franciscan brothers.
The Bonaventure friars are involved in a number of activities in the greater Olean community, besides ministry on campus. They administer St. Bonaventure's Parish in Allegany, called "Little Bona's". There is a strong Franciscan presence at Olean General Hospital, and the university operates the Warming House, an area soup kitchen believed to be the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the United States. Also adjacent to campus is the Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, a group of Franciscan religious sisters.
St. Bonaventure himself (1221-74), born John of Fidenza, was a cardinal and Doctor of the Church. A theologian and contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas at the university in Paris, he became head of the Franciscan order and did much to institutionalize that order. His most famous work is Itinerarium mentis in deum, or The Soul's Journey to God. Bonaventure was canonized in 1482 by Sixtus IV.
The university is also home to the world-renowned Franciscan Institute. Founded in 1939 by Fr. Thomas Plassmann, O.F.M., then president of St. Bonaventure College, and led by its first Director, Fr. Philotheus Boehner, O.F.M., the Franciscan Institute stands as the preeminent center in North America of teaching, research and publication on the history, spirituality and intellectual life of the Franciscan movement.
New dual-degree programs, enabling students to be accepted into medical, dental, physical therapy or pharmacy schools as freshmen, have helped the university attract talented students from across the country. The university has more than 50 academic programs, including new ones in gerontology, theater arts and art history.
The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is one of the premier art facilities in the state, boasting several art galleries and a 321-seat theater.
St. Bonaventure is home to the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Its campus newspaper, The Bona Venture, has been published continuously since 1926. The school is also home to The Laurel, the nation's oldest continuously published college literary magazine. The school's student radio station, WSBU 88.3 The Buzz, is ranked No. 2 nationally by The Princeton Review.
The school has a unique organization known as SFM (Students for the Mountain). SFM holds retreats for students at the Franciscan Mountain Retreat Centre at Mount Irenaeus, and prides itself on several renowned service organizations, most notably BonaResponds — which sent nearly 300 people to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and continues to perform relief work at home and across the county wherever needed — and SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), which has established successful business and education programs in the Bahamas.
St. Bonaventure is strongly identified with the Western New York region. A notable proportion of the student body are from the Buffalo and Rochester metro areas, and references to Buffalo and Rochester—and their Catholic high schools—are common even among students not from those areas. However, the university has students from 34 states and nearly a dozen countries. Bonaventure literally means "good journey."
St. Bonaventure has been long known for a successful men's basketball program that plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Nearly every member of the spirited student body attends home games, leading ESPN to call St. Bonaventure one of the top-five "worst places to play" in the country, along with Duke and Michigan. The team has struggled lately, but had success in the recent past. St. Bonaventure most recently appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2000, falling in the first round to Kentucky 85-80 in triple-overtime.
Bob Lanier played at St. Bonaventure, leading them to the Final Four in 1970, as did Tom and Sam Stith. In addition to these and other NBA players, several St. Bonaventure alums have played in top European leagues. The last St. Bonaventure player to reach the NBA was J.R. Bremer, who played for the Boston Celtics in 2002 and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. Bremer currently plays with the Russian League club Triumph Lyubertsy.
The men's and women's basketball teams play on Bob Lanier Court in the Reilly Center. The court was named in honor of Lanier during a dedication ceremony on October 12, 2007. A new floor and scoreboards were installed, including Lanier's signature in two places on the court. Lanier, with his mother, sister and daughter, was in attendance at the ceremony. The Arena seats 6,012 and is often sold out during basketball season. Many people from the Olean area have been season-ticket holders for years.
2003 Basketball Scandal St. Bonaventure's basketball program was marred in 2003 due to an academic scandal involving a junior college transfer that effectively admitted a basketball player lacking the appropriate credentials into the school. The scandal took a toll on the program. Dismissed in the aftermath of the scandal were: University president Robert J. Wickenheiser, head basketball coach Jan van Breda Kolff, assistant basketball coach and son of the president Kort Wickenheiser, and athletic director Gothard Lane. Lane was later absolved by the NCAA of culpability in the situation. In the most unfortunate event following the scandal, University trustee Bill Swan committed suicide on August 20, 2003, following sharp criticism from media and internet bloggers. He was criticized for not interceding earlier to prevent the scandal.
St. Bonaventure hired Robert Morris University's head basketball coach, Mark Schmidt, on April 10, 2007 to replace former head coach Anthony Solomon. Solomon was hired in May 2003, and was fired after a four-season record of 24-88 (10-54 in the Atlantic 10). The current women's basketball coach is Jim Crowley.
Division I Sports Offered:
Club Sport Offerings:
Undergraduate Programs of Study:
Undergraduate Minor Course Offerings:
In addition to being able to obtain minors in all of the subjects listed above, other minors are available in these programs of study:
Dual Admissions Program:
These programs are available for outstanding high school students that are looking for careers in health care. They provide exciting new opportunities for these students. Students save time, money and, in one case, get guaranteed placement in medical school without taking the Medical College Admission Test. To get admitted to these programs, students must have outstanding credentials and are expected to continuously keep an outstanding academic record while at SBU.
Graduate Course Offerings:
Four Members of the United States Congress also attended St. Bonaventure.