Mary's College 1885-2003:
a historical overview
Rev. Joseph Dabrowski (1885-1903)
Rev. Witold Buhaczkowski (1903-1916)
The academic framework of the Polish Seminary in Detroit took shape
over a few years after its formal founding in 1885. By the turn
of the century, the seminary evolved into three divisions, indispensable
to one another: the classical training in the high school; a two-year
philosophy program leading to lay professions in law, medicine and
the like; and a four-year theology program for the preparation of
priests. Increasingly, the schools found themselves juggling increasingly
crowded neighborhoods and the pressure of 300 boarding and day students
and 20 resident faculty. The solution came in a bold stroke with
the purchase of the grounds and buildings of the former Michigan
Military Academy, and the move to the beautiful lakeside property
25 miles northwest of Detroit in July 1909.
Msgr. Michael J. Grupa (1917-1932)
Msgr. Anthony A. Klowo (1932-1937)
Msgr. Ladislaus Krzyzosiak (1938-1943)
Under the European system, the college lacked any identity. In 1927,
the schools were organized formally into three four-year departments:
SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, St. Mary's College and St. Mary's
High School. Between 1930 and 1941, the reorganization of the College
entailed curriculum reforms. Courses were offered leading to bachelor's
degrees in arts, sciences and philosophy. On Feb. 24, 1941, the
schools were officially incorporated by the State of Michigan and
granted a new charter. The collective name was changed to "SS.
Cyril and Methodius Seminary, St. Mary's College, St. Mary's High
School." Ownership of the schools was transferred to the newly
Msgr. Edward J. Szumal (1943-1956)
Msgr. Wallace J. Filipowicz (1956-1967)
Rev. Walter J. Ziemba (1967-1977)
During the decades of the 1940s-1950s-1960s, at the urging of Cardinal
Edward Mooney, Archbishop of Detroit, the College admitted only
candidates for the priesthood. When he opened St. John's Theological
Seminary in Plymouth, he allowed seminarians of Polish background
to study at the College before going on to St. John's, thus assuring
the College of a stable enrollment of 90-110 through the 1960s.
In the fall of 1969, a policy was initiated of admitting non-divinity
students to the College. One year later, the first women, part-time
commuters majoring in theology and Polish, were admitted to college
classes; three years after that, college women were residents on
campus. By 1976, the number of students oriented to lay vocations
outnumbered those in priestly formation. Altered student bodies
required expanded curricula and services. To majors in traditional
areas (Polish, theology, communication arts, philosophy), a Religious
Education major was added in 1976, and majors followed in science,
business administration, social science, human services, computer
science and psychology. In 1971, the institution's overall governance
was changed with the establishment of a Board of Regents for the
Orchard Lake Schools and a separate Board of Trustees for each school.
In 1976, the College was accredited by North Central Association.
Rev. Leonard F. Chrobot (1977-1987)
Frank J. Anthonis (1987-1988)
Dr. Edward Meyer (1988-1994)
In July 1977, each academic unit of the Orchard Lake Schools was
given more autonomy. A new post of Chancellor of the Orchard Lake
Schools was established, and each school had its own appointed academic
head. Rev. Leonard F. Chrobot was named College president. In 1978,
the College inaugurated an ambitious basketball program, recruiting
players and playing a more competitive schedule through membership
in several small college conferences and athletic associations.
In 1987, the college was granted continuing accreditation by North
Central. In 1990, a $20,000 grant from the McGregor Fund provided
partial funding for the College's new Learning Laboratory to provide
computer and video work stations and learning materials.
Dr. Thaddeus C. Radzilowski (1994-2000)
In 1996, Dr. Radzilowski returned from a two-week, 18,000-mile trip
to Poland and Albania to initiate an aggressive recruitment program
of international students. In 1997, the College and Specs Howard
School of Broadcasting Arts in Southfield signed an articulation
agreement that allowed students from both institutions to take courses
on each other's campus. The College was rated No. 1 with the
highest percentage of small classes (92 percent) in a survey of
423 Midwestern colleges conducted by U. S. News & World Report.
In 1998, the College received a 10-year re-accreditation, a first
for the College.
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE OF
AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY
Dr. Thaddeus C. Radzilowski (2000-2002)
Dr. Damian Fedoryka (2003)
Effective July 1, 2000, the Orchard Lake Schools Board of Regents
created an educational joint venture with Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti
responsible for the overall policies and business operations of
St. Mary's College. In the fall, the College and Madonna University
became partners in offering a master's degree in Business Administration
at Orchard Lake. A year later, the College and Madonna University
signed an agreement to offer a teacher certification program in
secondary and elementary education. In October 2001, the College
sponsored a critically acclaimed nine-month exhibit, "The Polish
Experience in Detroit: 1870-1950," at the Detroit Historical
Museum. In 2002, fueled by a $75,000 grant from the Fides et Ratio
Foundation, the College embarked on a Catholic Integrated Core Curriculum
based on Pope John Paul II's encyclicals calling for an integration
of knowledge, based on faith and reason, from a theological perspective
throughout the college's course offerings. In December 2002, Dr.
Radzilowski was granted a six-month sabbatical; Dr. Damian Fedoryka
was named interim president. On May 3, 2003, the College awarded
diplomas to 80 graduates, the largest class in the college's history.
Orchard Lake Center (2003- )
Sr. Rose Marie Kujawa, CSSF (2001- )
July 1, 2003: Madonna University in Livonia and St. Mary's College
agree that St. Mary's will become a part of Madonna University.
The College will no longer be an autonomous institution, but will
operate under the charter and approvals of Madonna University. The
take-over was prompted by Ave Maria University's decision to end
its three-year affiliation with the St. Mary's College.