Macalester College

Macalester College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was founded in 1874 as a Presbyterian-affiliated but nonsectarian college. Its first class entered September 15, 1885. The college is located on a 53 acre (21.4 ha) campus in a historic residential neighborhood and includes seven academic buildings, ten residences, a library, and a technology center. Notable alumni include Kofi Annan, Walter Mondale, DeWitt Wallace, Alexander Wendt, Ari Emanuel, Peter Berg, Tim O'Brien and Charles Baxter. Macalester enrolls approximately 1,850 undergraduate students. The school is known for its large international enrollment and has one of the highest percentages of foreign students in the United States.


Macalester had its beginnings in the mid-to-late 1800s due to the efforts of the Rev. Dr. Edward Duffield Neill, who had founded two schools in Saint Paul and nearby Minneapolis which were named after M.W. Baldwin, a locomotive builder and friend of Neill's. With the intention of turning his Saint Paul Baldwin School into a college, Neill turned to Charles Macalester, a businessman from Philadelphia, for sponsorship. Macalester donated a building near Saint Anthony Falls, and the college was chartered in 1874. The college moved to its present location in 1885 after building an endowment and seeking the help of the Presbyterian Church. The College first admitted women in 1893, and despite being affiliated with a religious institution, remained open to students of other faiths.

Macalester was largely carried through financial hardship and brought to prominence by Dr. James Wallace, father of DeWitt Wallace. Wallace was acting president of the college from 1894 to 1900, president from 1900 to 1906, and professor until just before his death in 1939. After World War II, the college developed a reputation for internationalism under the presidency of Charles Turck (later the namesake of Turck Hall), who recruited overseas and created a more diverse student body. Macalester's positive reputation grew during the 1960s, when it consistently drew many National Merit Scholars, enough to come in at the country's top ten; during this time the college also benefitted heavily from DeWitt Wallace's success with Reader's Digest. Macalester continued to develop into the '90s, building its endowment and adding new facilities and equipment.

Macalester's reputation has grown within the last 20 years with the addition of newer facilities, such as the DeWitt Wallace Library, and the growth of the endowment to among the largest among liberal arts colleges in the United States. The college has also extensively developed its ties to the Twin Cities, with an extensive focus on community service and involvement. Recent years have brought much new development as well as controversy. Many buildings have been extensively renovated and a new athletic facility (The Leonard Center) opened in the fall of 2008. In addition, Macalester has recently created the Institute for Global Citizenship. The Institute and other administrative decisions, however, such as the college's highly charged decision to cease need-blind admissions to the college, have led to some level of student protest and anger on campus. In addition, a recent student party with a politically incorrect theme drew much controversy, as well as coverage in the national media. These events have played a part in the continuing evolution of the college's status and image.


Macalester's stated mission is to be a preeminent liberal arts college with high standards for scholarship, and with special emphasis on internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.

In the past 10 years, Macalester students have earned honors including Rhodes Scholarships, British Marshall Scholarships, Fulbright Scholarships, Foreign Government Grants, National Science Foundation Fellowships, Truman Scholarships, Watson Fellowships, Mellon Fellowships and Goldwater Scholarships.

Currently Macalester's admittance rate stands at 39% It is considered "Most Selective" by the US News and World Report Rankings. For the class of 2012, 5,040 applications resulted in one of the lowest acceptance rates ever for the college

Macalester is the primary donor for and sponsor of MITY, the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, which was founded in 1967 and has its main facilities in the Lampert Building, which sits across from Macalester's North Quad on Snelling Avenue. MITY provides three different Gifted Education programs during the summer months. Macalester also participates in Project Pericles.

As a member of CLIC (Cooperating Libraries in Consortium), the Macalester library provides students with academic resources outside of the College's library. Through the consortium, students have access to books, articles, and other media available from liberal arts colleges in the Twin Cities. Students also have access to the University of Minnesota libraries, and can obtain copies of papers and articles therefrom on campus. However, there is no guarantee as to when a student might actually gain access to these materials.

Student life

International students represent 90 different countries and comprise 14% of the student body. In 2005, 4% of students were dual citizens or permanent residents of foreign countries. U.S. students, 20% of whom are not Caucasian, come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The main campus newspaper is The Mac Weekly, a student-run operation. It has a circulation of up to 1,600 and was established in 1914. Almost all the newspaper staff works on a volunteer basis. The paper publishes twelve or thirteen volumes, ranging from 16 to 24 pages, each semester. A satirical section, The Mock Weekly, is added to the last issue of each semester. The paper has published a magazine three times, in April 2006, March 2007 and November 2007.

There are over 100 student clubs and organizations on campus, including college radio station WMCN, the Macalester Peace and Justice Committee, the Experimental College, Student Labor Action Coalition, African Music Ensemble, Macalester Gaming Society, Macalester Mock Trial, Mac Dems, Mac Greens, Bad Comedy, Fresh Concepts, The Trads and other a cappella groups, Cheeba, MacBike, Macalester Conservation and Renewable Energy Society (MacCARES), Macalester International Organization (MIO), MacPlayers, NARAL Pro-Choice Macalester, Queer Union, Macalester Young Artists for Revolutionary Needlework (MacYARN), and The Blue Monkey Super-Dope Crew (Ultimate Frisbee).


Macalester College is a member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). The college's team nickname is the Scots. The football team, after many years of poor performance in the MIAC, has competed independently since 2002. The college actually dissolved the football program in 1906, pronouncing, according to the Mac Weekly: "Thoroughly aroused to the evils, real or imaginary, of this game, the public is clamoring for the entire abolition or reform on this 'relic of barbarism.'" After reinstated the Macalester football team found itself in a record 50-game NCAA losing streak that lasted six years during the mid-1970s, attracting national media attention. The losing streak ended on September 5, 1980, with a 17-14 win over Mt. Senario College.

Soccer has always been a popular sport. Both men and women's teams remain competitive, appearing in multiple NCAA playoffs since 1995. The women's team won the NCAA championship in 1998.

The Cross Country Ski Team became a club team in 2004, when skiing was eliminated as an MIAC sanctioned sport. It was the first team to be dismantled since hockey was cut (and turned club) in the 1970s. A women's hockey team formed in 2000 and continues to play at the club level.

Macalester Athletics compete in a new athletic facility, the Leonard Center, which opened in August 2008. The $45 million dollar facility is the largest NCAA Division III athletic facility in the country. The Leonard Center also includes a health and wellness center for the college community. Materials from the former facility were disposed of in environmentally friendly ways, and some materials were incorporated into the new structure.



As at many small liberal arts colleges, students at Macalester are required to live on campus for their first two years.

Residence Halls

  • Dupre Hall, which houses first-year students and sophomores, is advertised as being able to withstand a hurricane. The building plans were supposedly bought for a discounted price from a Macalester graduate because they were originally designed for a coastal climate. Dupre is located on the corner of Summit and Snelling Avenues, and was built in 1962. Renovated in 1994, Dupre houses about 260 first-years and sophomores and is Macalester's largest residence hall.
  • Turck Hall was built in 1957 and most recently remodeled in 2004. It houses nearly 180 first-year students.
  • Doty Hall was built in 1964 and is one of two residence halls on campus to feature single-sex floors. Doty also houses only first year students.
  • Bigelow Hall is on the corner of Grand Avenue and Macalester Street. Built in 1947 and most recently remodeled in 1992, it is connected via tunnels to Wallace, Doty and 30 Macalester Street and features single-sex and co-ed floor arrangements. It is also connected to Turck via a skyway, and houses sophomores.
  • George Draper Dayton Hall (GDD) houses sophomores, juniors and seniors, typically in suites of four to six occupants.
  • 30 Macalester Street is one of the newest residence halls on campus, and is more handicap accessible than other residence halls and houses small amount of students.
  • Wallace Hall is the oldest residence hall on campus, built in 1907 and renovated in 2002. It houses mostly sophomores, though on its recently renovated top floor, it also houses juniors and seniors.
  • Kirk Hall houses upperclassmen and is located between the Campus Center and what will become the Macalester Athletic and Recreation Center.
  • There are three cottages on campus, which will soon be torn down, potentially to make room for a new bookstore.

Specialty housing

  • Veggie Co-op
  • Cultural House
  • Hebrew House (part of Kirk Hall)
  • All-gender housing (part of Kirk Hall)
  • Eco-House
  • Language Houses, where students are expected to speak the language of their particular house as much as possible. Currently there are six Language Houses, focusing on German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin.

All-gender housing

Recently, Macalester has made news by offering limited gender open housing options for juniors and seniors. George Draper Dayton Hall, the Grand-Cambridge Apartments, Kirk Hall, and the six cottages are all gender open. Gender-open housing options still do not provide the opportunity for students of opposite sexes to share a room without a door between. Hence, gender-open housing is only available in suites and cottage type living situations and has not been integrated into the main residence hall buildings. However, this does mean that students of different biological sex still cannot share a room together, without a locking door between them. There is no current concrete administrative plan in place for moving to a gender-open by room living situation. Student-led groups are working to increase these options and make gender-open bathrooms available, particularly for incoming first-year students. As of 2007 no first-year residence halls offer any gender-neutral bathroom options.

Food services

Food services on campus are provided by Bon Appétit, a national company. The cafeteria, located in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center, is named "Café Mac." There are three meal plans for students who live on campus (except those in theme houses or co-ops). The standard option (and the mandatory one for new students) is 19 all-you-can-eat meals per week. For the same price, 10 or 14 meal plans are available that offer additional flexible "dining dollars" for a la cart meals. Cafe Mac offers vegan options at all stations. For those students who live off-campus, there is a 75 meals per semester plan available for Café Mac.


  • The Rock on campus, which was moved around and painted by many students after first being rolled onto campus in 1908, was at one point stolen by students from Carleton College of Northfield and mailed back to Macalester COD, and is now cemented into the ground on the college's main quad.
  • Ringing the Bell outside the Weyerhaeuser building is a rite of passage for students who have freshly shed their on-campus virginity. When it is struck, there is often a general cheering response in the dorms. It is often incorrectly assumed that total virginity must be lost on campus to warrant ringing the bell. The bell was given to Edward Duffield Neill, the College's founder, by friends when he opened a boy's school called St. Paul College in 1856.
  • Traditional events include the Christmas Candlelight Service, the Founders' Day Gala celebrating the anniversary of the college's founding, an annual lamb roast on the day of the first snow of winter, and the all-day Springfest, an outdoor festival featuring bands, food, and other activities.
  • Near exam week, there is the Midnight Breakfast, in which faculty and staff members serve waffles and other breakfast food to the students. This tradition returned in the fall of 2005, but was held at an earlier time in the evening. In the past streaking at the Midnight Breakfast had been a longstanding tradition. This has been discouraged by the administration.
  • Also, in the past, the college has offered free massages to students during exam week to help relieve stress.

Awards and recognition

  • Ranked 16th (as of 2005) in the nation by Washington Monthly College Guide, based on criteria that "should be engines of social mobility, they should produce the academic minds and scientific research that advance knowledge and drive economic growth, and they should inculcate and encourage an ethic of service.
  • Named "America's Hottest Liberal Arts College" by the 2006 Kaplan/Newsweek "How to Get into College" Guide. According to the magazine, America's Hottest Colleges "have one attribute in common: they're creating buzz among students, school officials and longtime observers of the admissions process...each reflects a place that is preparing students well for a complex world.
  • At a fall 2005 school assembly, Macalester President Brian C. Rosenberg summarized these rankings and honors by saying Macalester students are "cheap smart hotties with a conscience." The phrase now appears on t-shirts worn by a number of students.
  • In 2007, Princeton Review rated the college "#1 best quality of life" and "#1 gay community accepted.
  • Macalester won the National Cross Examination Debate Association Debate Tournament in 1986 and 1987.

Notable alumni and faculty

Some of the notable alumni and faculty of Macalester college include architect Cass Gilbert, political figures Kofi Annan and Walter Mondale, businessman and philanthropist DeWitt Wallace, writers Tim O'Brien and Wang Ping, musician Will Sheff, and actors Peter Berg and Carl Lumbly. Among the past and present faculty have been people such as Hubert Humphrey and Jack Weatherford.


External links

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