Happy Founders’ Day!
Today we celebrate the women — and men — who founded Trinity, and those who helped the school develop into the institution we know today.
Trinity was founded in 1897 by two determined nuns from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Inspired by their group’s educational ethos — and an increasing national interest in the education of women — Sister Julia McGroarty and Sister Mary Euphrasia proposed the establishment of a women’s college in the suburbs of Washington, DC.
With the permission and ongoing support of James Cardinal Gibbons (Archbishop of Baltimore and Chancellor of The Catholic University of America) Sister Julia and Sister Mary Euphrasia lobbied, planned, and arranged for Trinity’s founding. They were successful in their efforts: Trinity’s Brookland location was scouted on March 7, 1897 and the school opened two years later. The first class graduated in the spring of 1904.
Other key players in Trinity’s founding included the Rector and Vice-Rector of CUA as well as other members of the CUA faculty. The school was also heavily influenced by Sister Raphael, who as an early president of Trinity College — and a more than capable leader — paved the way for future growth.
Ultimately, the Sisters’ success hinged on Trinity’s sound pedagogical underpinning: Unlike the founders of other women’s schools at the time, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur had education backgrounds. Sisters attended academies in England and the Netherlands; both Sister Julia and Sister Mary Euphrasia were experienced teachers and understood the importance of strong curricula and consistent standards.
Because of their thoughtful, progressive approach to higher ed, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were a steady force in the education of women. Trinity was an ambitious undertaking, but the Sisters were up to the task.
Today, Trinity enrolls more than 2600 students — men and women — in four colleges with dozens of degree programs.
To learn more about Trinity’s history, stop by the library and take a look at our Founders’ Day display on the second floor.