The history of Spring Hill College is deeply rooted in the early
French and Catholic culture of the Gulf Coast. Successful French colonization
efforts led to the development of trading centers on water routes that
attracted increasingly larger populations. Mobile soon became a focal point
for commercial activity as well as the seat of the Bishop of Mobile, whose
diocese extended throughout Alabama and to the east coast of Florida. Bishop
Michael Portier, recognizing the need for Catholic higher education in
the Southeast, founded Spring Hill College in 1830. In 1847, Bishop Portier
invited the Fathers of the Lyons Province of the Society of Jesus to take
possession of the College.
As the oldest college in Alabama, the first Catholic college in the
Southeast, and the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States, Spring
Hill’s heritage remains vital, its mission constant: to educate students
to become responsible leaders in service to others.
It comes to this mission from its Jesuit, Catholic philosophy of
learning; it realizes that the internal dynamic of the intellect is to
reach toward the fulfillment of Truth, God, while the internal dynamic
of faith is not only to accept “through grace” the essential otherness
of God, but to reach toward an ever-increasing understanding of its mysteries.
Such a conjunction of faith and reason, leading to a knowledge of God and
of creation, necessarily results in a desire to see that all men and women
share that vision, share in God’s love, and therefore share in the benefits
of creation. Thus we are enjoined, through the process of a personalized
education, to protect the rights of all and to work for that peace and
justice which is the intent of God’s kingdom.
A COMPREHENSIVE LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE
The tradition and identity of Spring Hill have thus been formed from
the strength of its Catholic heritage and its Jesuit spirituality and educational
philosophy. Indeed, the College derives its academic character from
its insistence on the primary importance of the liberal arts and sciences.
It offers a multi-dimensional education, providing students the humanistic
foundation for a life of continuous learning.
Through the Core Curriculum, adapted from the values-oriented program
of studies of the Jesuit tradition, students explore artistic, historical,
scientific, philosophical, and religious approaches to reality. Methods
and principles are stressed and an emphasis is placed on the quest for
understanding. These studies are designed to assist students in developing
breadth and variety of knowledge as well as skills in analysis, synthesis,
and judgment. Combined with specialized studies in major areas, which prepare
students directly for careers or for graduate school, the liberal arts
and sciences provide the context for both integration of knowledge and
clarification of values.
Through such knowledge and skills, the College aims at fostering
the intellectual growth of men and women who are free from ignorance, narrowness
of interest, and bigotry. True to its heritage, the College recognizes
its responsibility to transmit Christian values and to challenge students
to the highest ideals. The College also recognizes its responsibility
to carry its educational vision to the broader community by developing
programs, both graduate and undergraduate, which respond to the needs of
the growing number of non-traditional students in its local area and by
extending its theological resources to the service of the Catholic Southeast.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SPRING HILL COLLEGE
Spring Hill draws its inspiration from the religious, humanistic
vision of Ignatius Loyola who started his first schools in the middle of
the sixteenth century. He wanted to bring to the Renaissance world
of his time the knowledge that the world is charged with the grandeur of
God, as the nineteenth-century Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, would
write; and he hoped to lead people to a knowledge of that God. In this
desire to serve his world and his Church, he recognized that education
was a key element. He knew that a disciplined growth in the knowledge and
understanding of creation, grounded in faith, is indispensable for the
right ordering of society. Both Ignatius and his followers, to achieve
their vision, regarded certain characteristics essential to the identity
of their educational
institutions; they are expectations demanded of our students, they
are qualities that strengthen and perpetuate the education provided by
Spring Hill College.
Spring Hill College is committed to academic excellence. In an atmosphere
of open inquiry, students and teachers together experience the significance
of the intellectual life; they learn that it establishes a society’s cultural
values and is responsible for the communication of those values to future
generations. Thus the academic community pursues and shares knowledge through
serious scholarship in a desire to know the truth of creation, appreciate
its beauty, and serve it with humility.
To accomplish this, the College employs selective enrollment, and
it recruits faculty who have either already demonstrated excellence in
teaching or who exhibit a desire to excel; it further encourages the faculty’s
continuing academic development. These dedicated faculty carry on the Jesuit
tradition of vigorous intellectual discipline and an attention to detail
that are the foundation of learning. And though such learning takes
place primarily in the classroom, in the interaction between student and
teacher, and in hours of careful study, the wider ranges of campus life
are also meant to provide opportunities for intellectual stimulation.
Learning is the empowerment that makes authority and constructive
action possible. Campus life—both curricular and extra-curricular—involves
students in active learning experiences that are designed to help them
grow creatively, and the personal size of the student body ensures
effective participation by everyone. They are thus encouraged to take positions
of responsibility; and they often find themselves judged, formally or informally,
on their ability to lead. This nurturing environment fosters initiative
and determination, and helps students to become dynamic leaders whose dedication
and courage in serving others ennoble their community.
Every aspect of campus life has as its purpose the formation of
the balanced person who, through habits of reflection, through enriching
relationships with other students and with teachers, develops a mature
world-view. These opportunities are not limited to the academic; rather,
residence hall life, intercollegiate and intramural athletic competition,
liturgies, retreats, and campus social functions all serve to promote individual
development within the community. The College offers its students the joy
of learning and the excitement of personal discovery. Students thus
become self-disciplined, open to growth, and aware of the responsibilities
that true freedom demands.
The College attempts to create a genuine community based on the
pursuit, common to students and faculty, of intellectual growth and personal
development. Concern for the individual person—what Jesuits have
traditionally called cura personalis—is a fundamental characteristic of
the Spring Hill community. This personalized care, possible because of
the College’s comfortable size, allows each student to develop individually,
but also, and simultaneously, as a member of a community bonded by shared
ideals. Members of a community are galvanized by unity of purpose; they
appropriate the community’s ideals for themselves and have a stake in their
fulfillment; in advancing these ideals, they become leaders.
The College purposely seeks a diverse student body. Given the interdependence
of the global environment, diversity is a practical preparation for life,
but it is also a stimulation to a well-rounded education. Diversity is
richness. Thus the College welcomes students of varying nationalities,
geographic regions, ages, and religions, as well as diverse social and
economic backgrounds. The one common element the College seeks in all its
students is an openness to the values of a personalized, Jesuit, liberal
The Spring Hill experience, therefore, in all its dimensions, challenges
students to excel as informed and responsible leaders in service to others.
Recognizing and serving the needs of one another is an important facet
of campus life, and students are faced with this responsibility on a daily
basis. But that responsibility extends far beyond campus boundaries: the
call to serve has been made more urgent than ever in Jesuit institutions
by the commitment of the Society of Jesus to promote faith by seeking the
justice that the gospel demands.
This is a call to Christian love—the disposition to love others as
God loves us—which the College community believes should be the overriding
influence on its every action, its every decision. Students should, through
the education Spring Hill offers, be made aware of their special obligations
to the world of the disadvantaged and the impoverished. They are urged
to share with the College its responsibility to bring political, social,
and cultural benefit to the Mobile community and, ultimately, to society
Reflecting the Catholic, Jesuit philosophy of learning, that ultimately
faith, reason and justice are inextricably related to one another, the
goals of Spring Hill College seek to promote an integrated education of
the whole person, while respecting the value of diversity and the fundamental
importance of free inquiry. The educational and institutional goals
of the College are
For its students:
To develop students’ intellectual capacities for critical thinking,
coherent writing and articulate speaking, by building skills in analysis,
synthesis, and judgment and by cultivating the quest for understanding
and the desire for truth.
To provide a humanistic foundation for a life of continuous learning,
through a Core Curriculum which explores artistic, historical, scientific,
philosophical, and religious approaches to reality.
To develop depth of understanding in an area of specialization which
provides a foundation for a productive professional life.
To provide challenge and guidance to the process of moral development
and personal integration of values by deepening a sense of responsibility
and respect for the needs and rights of others, along with a mature self-respect
To promote the growth of social awareness and responsibility, especially
through an appreciation and understanding of cultural diversity and the
fundamental solidarity of the entire human community, and through cultivation
of a reflective sensitivity to human misery and exploitation, which recognizes
the continuing need for empowerment of the marginalized in society.
To develop students capacities and desires for leadership and service
as active participants in the life of church and society.
To awaken and deepen a mature sense of faith, a reflective and personal
integration of reason, faith, and justice.
To develop a sense of the interrelatedness of reality and the ultimate
integration of knowledge, rooted in the mystery of God and revealed in
the Incarnation of the Word, Jesus Christ.
For the institution:
To build a true community of learning by focusing all sectors of the
College on the common goal of personalized, holistic, student-centered
To direct faculty recruitment and faculty development towards promoting
quality teaching, active scholarship, and shared mission.
To strengthen the distinctive mission of the College by developing and
implementing strategies to build shared responsibility for Spring Hill’s
Jesuit tradition at all levels of the College community.
To engage in systematic planning through a broad-based, ongoing planning
and evaluation process in order to facilitate continued growth in institutional
To serve as an educational resource for the Catholic faith community
of the Southeast.
To serve as an educational and cultural resource for the Mobile community
and the metropolitan area.
Board of Trustees
Spring Hill College
October 15, 1993