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Learn the History of Avila and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

To understand the history of Avila University , you must travel down a path that originated in 17th Century France. Under the patronage of Saint Joseph, six women from LePuy dedicated themselves to the "… practice of all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which woman is capable and which will most benefit the … dear neighbor."

You can learn more about the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet by visiting www.csjsl.org.


View Past Presidents of Avila

The Journey

1836 Sisters on Boat from FranceThe first Sisters of Saint Joseph arrived in St. Louis from Lyons to open a school for the deaf. In 1837, it opened and still survives today as the internationally recognized Saint Joseph's Institute for the Deaf.
1850's Father Bernard Donnelly, pastor of a small Catholic community in Kansas City, built a church and school on ten acres of land that he owned.
1866 Mother Francis Joseph Ivory and five of her companions were sent to staff this school. The school was known as Saint Joseph's Academy until the following year when it was incorporated as Saint Teresa's Academy.
1910 The old Saint Teresa's Academy was abandoned due to districting and moved to its new location on Main Street with a faculty of 15 sisters.
1916 Saint Teresa College, a two-year college for women, began classes in September. The faculty outnumbered their first students.
1918 Margaret O'RiellyMargaret O'Rielly became the first graduate of the junior college.
1921 Saint Teresa College became accredited by the University of Missouri.
1930 Saint Joseph Hospital's School of Nursing became affiliated with Saint Teresa College, increasing enrollment from 36 to 206.
1935 The official college seal was designed by Mary Finney Black.
1940 The Sisters of Saint Joseph celebrated their 75th anniversary of their arrival in Kansas City. Saint Teresa College became a four-year College of Saint Teresa.
1946 The College of Saint Teresa was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
1960 Sister Mary Daniel Tammany announced that the college planned to move to a new location and that Sister Olive Louise Dallavis would be appointed the new dean. Later that year, they purchased the land. The $195,078 acquisition was made possible through the generosity of Margaret O'Rielly who, upon her death in 1952, bequeathed her estate to the college on the condition that it be used for capital improvements. Margaret O'Rielly was the first graduate of the junior college.
1963 Sister Olive Louise Dallavis, dean of the College of Saint Teresa, realized they needed more room to grow. Construction began on the new campus at 119th Street and Wornall Road with a portion of the historic Santa Fe Trail providing its southern border - creating a true intersection of pioneers. With a new location, came a new name, Avila College. Classes began in O'Rielly Hall in September even thought the building was only 70% complete.
1965 Blasco Hall and Marian Center was built. The sisters moved into the new residence hall, Carondelet Hall, on March 1.
1967 Foyle Hall was complete. It was also the new residence for the sisters. It was built to resemble the first convent for the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Carondelet.
Foyle Hall is based off the first convent
1969 Avila became fully coeducational.
1970 Ridgway Hall, the second residence hall, was completed.
1971 Former President Harry S. Truman gave formal approval to Avila College to offer a lecture series to the community in his name. Later that year, the first Harry S. Truman Lecture Series was delivered by David E. Bell, V.P. of the Ford Foundation and Truman's first administrative assistant.
1972 The lower level of Carondelet Hall was remodeled to become the Hodes Education Center. Avila alumni organized their first major Homecoming activity. Male students lived on campus for the first time.
1974 Avila's theatre program held its first season in the new Goppert Theatre. Borserine Nurse Education Centre was also completed. The college launched a men's basketball program.
1977 Sister Olive Louise Dallavis purchasing Jimmy CBob Boyle, Sister Olive Louise Dallavis and friends purchased Jimmie C., grand champion steer of the American Royal, for the first Avila College American Royal Steer Dinner and Auction, which raised $15,000. Men's soccer started and reached district playoffs.
1978 The new Hooley-Bundschu Library, Whitfield Continuing Education Center and Thornhill Art Gallery opened.
1979 The Mabee Foundation offered Avila a $500,000 challenge grant for construction of a new fieldhouse. Completed in 1980.
1983 Mrs. Martin Luther King spoke on campus.
1987 The Board of Trustees approved the mission, philosophy and value statements for Avila College.
1990 Women's softball and men's baseball were added to the athletic programs. The Avalanche mascot transforms into the Eagles.
1991 The Thomas R. Zarda Athletic Complex including a softball, soccer and baseball fields was dedicated.
1992 The Dallavis Center was added to Ridgway Hall.
1994 Women's soccer team is formed and reached district playoffs. Avila's volleyball team wins the first ever MCAC tournament.
2000 Cheer and Dance are added to the athletic programs.
2002 Avila College became Avila University. The Fieldhouse was expanded. The first intercollegiate football game took place.
2003 Women's Golf was added to the athletic programs.
2007 Jeanne Collins Thompson Hall, a suite-style residence hall, was built.
2008 Jeanne Hamilton Olofson Plaza was built - Avila's new front door.
2010 Men's Golf, Men and Women's Cross Country were added to the athletic programs.
2011 Coming later this year - The Pavilion, it will be next to the Fieldhouse and include another court for students to practice and play intramurals on.