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Updated : 28-Jun-2022


Saint Louis University and its Madrid Campus

Saint Louis University traces its history to the foundation of Saint Louis Academy on November 16, 1818, three years before Missouri became a state. Founded by the Right Reverend Louis DuBourg, the Academy was renamed Saint Louis College in 1820.

In 1823, Belgian Jesuits from Maryland arrived in Missouri at the urgent invitation of Bishop DuBourg and John C. Calhoun, U.S. Secretary of War. They settled at Florissant, near St. Louis, where they established a school for Native Americans. In 1828, they assumed direction of Saint Louis College, which had been administered for the first ten years of its existence by members of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians). On December 28, 1832, Saint Louis College received its charter as Saint Louis University by an act of the Missouri legislature. This was the first university charter granted by any state west of the Mississippi River. The University then assumed a significant role in educational, cultural and religious development not only of St. Louis and surrounding areas, but also of the vast regions of the western United States. From its earliest days, the University has welcomed persons of diverse faiths among its faculty, students and staff.

The University's campus in Madrid started as a study abroad program organized by Raymond L. Sullivant, S.J. in the 1960s. Its success led Father Sullivant to offer classes in conjunction with the University of Comillas and then to establish an independent, permanent program, with its administrative offices and classrooms located between Madrid's Complutense University and the city center in 1969. Shortly thereafter, a number of Spanish students, attracted to the University's liberal arts curriculum, enrolled in classes, and within a decade the university was home to hundreds of students. Its program expanded, providing a full range of courses and a library, which permitted Spanish and other European students to complete the first two years of their undergraduate studies in Madrid.

Its distinct position, as the American Jesuit University in Spain, prompted Saint Louis University to build a campus. In 1990, the University purchased what now stand as Padre Rubio and Padre Arrupe Halls. In 1996, "Saint Louis University in Spain" was the first U.S. university to receive official recognition from the Consejería de Educación y Cultura, Madrid's higher education authority. A further expansion took place in 2011 when the University purchased and renovated San Ignacio Hall, providing students with increased facilities, including a full-service dining hall, an auditorium, additional classrooms, offices and study spaces, and art, dance and music studios.

SLU-Madrid continues to host study abroad students. It also permits undergraduate and graduate students to complete their degree programs in their entirety in Spain. Today, the Madrid Campus is recognized as a center of international education, committed to the ideals of service and leadership that the University, its students, faculty and staff have upheld since 1818.