Exploring the College Catalogs: 1865, 1919, and the Present

by NICOLE RODRIGUEZ, Asst. Production Editor

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A landscape depiction of Manhattan College found in the 1865 college catalog. NICOLE RODRIGUEZ / THE QUADRANGLE

Over the years, Manhattan College has not only evolved socially, politically and economically since its founding, but more importantly has expanded in terms of matriculation and academics.

The first college catalog stated the goals of the institution as being “to afford the youth of our country the means of acquiring the highest grade of education attained in the American universities.”

While these goals remain sought after, the approach taken in 1865 appeared to be vastly different in comparison to today.

The college’s course of studies were divided into classical, scientific and commercial. This would be equivalent to and the basis of the schools of liberal arts, science and business. The classical course of study placed an emphasis on the humanities with courses taught about natural philosophy, rhetoric, composition and classical literature at its core. The scientific course of study was more math-based offering courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus, in addition to sciences like chemistry, astronomy, geology, botany and mineralogy. The commercial course of study focused on courses like penmanship, arithmetic, bookkeeping and commercial law.

At this time, the classical languages were thoroughly studied, but prominence was given to higher mathematics and the natural sciences. As a result, the college believed to be, “combining the advantages of a first-class College and Polytechnic Institute.”

According to the 1865 college catalog, “Before receiving any degree, the classical student will be required, not only to be able to translate with facility any classic author, whether Greek or Latin, whose style he has studied; he must also be able to express his ideas orally as well as in writing; whereas the mathematical student, seeking similar distinction, must extend his scientific knowledge so as to embrace the differential and integral calculus.”

Dating back 100 years ago, the college underwent further advancements.

In 1919, the college offered two departments of study, the department of arts and the department of civil engineering. As opposed to only having courses of study to follow like in 1865, the college in 1919 appeared to have much more structure regarding their departments of instruction.

The departments of instruction at this time consisted of astronomy, biology, chemistry, civil engineering, drawing, English, French, geology, German, history, Italian, mechanics, pedagogy, philosophy, physics, public speaking, religion and Spanish.

  According to the 1919 college catalog, there was a place within the college for every study: “Special attention is given in both departments to the study of English. The importance of the natural and experimental sciences is emphasized in the courses given in biology, physics, chemistry, and geology. These courses are of special benefit to students preparing for medical school. Of no less advantage for the prospective law student are the courses in logic and political and social science. For students who intend to embrace the teaching profession, there are offered courses in pedagogy and in the history and psychology of education.”

Today the college is marked by its Lasallian tradition which has characterized and offered the same special educational experience.

According to the current college catalog, “The College continues to realize the objectives stated in its first catalog by maintaining a full range of programs in the liberal arts and sciences joined with professional programs in engineering, business, science and education.”

The college encourages students to pursue their passion with the extensive and varied set of undergraduate and graduate programs of study. There are more than 100 majors, minors, graduate programs, advanced certificates and online programs.

Since 1919 the college has branched out from its two departments of study into six schools of study which are the O’Malley School of Business, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the School of Education and Health, the School of Engineering, the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Science.

The O’Malley School of Business offers seven distinct majors, eight distinct minors, and an MBA program. The School of Education and Health offers undergraduate programs in education, kinesiology and health professions, as well as graduate programs in special education, counseling, school leadership and instructional design. The School of Engineering offers a varied and advanced engineering curriculum with departments in chemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, and mechanical engineering. The School of Liberal Arts offers 29 majors and minors through 16 departments and interdisciplinary programs spanning a wide range of liberal arts studies. The School of Science includes the departments of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics. The School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers degree programs designed specifically for adult learners with in-person classes and online lessons.

Over its long history, there is no denying that the college has evolved monumentally and continues to evolve. The college continues to add new programs with the addition of the Digital Arts and Humanities and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies minors in the school of arts for the fall of 2019. Students today enjoy a wide array of endless opportunities for their educational endeavors as the college continues to expand.